Annulet’s Year in Reading: 2022

Recommendations from contributors and contributing editors, including C.T. Salazar, Kelly Krumrie, Valerie Hsiung, Kylan Rice, Willa Smart, Sarah Sgro, Emily Barton Altman, Toby Altman, Caroline Rayner, and Jonathan Gharraie, that highlight selections from Annulet’s three issues this past calendar year, alongside books published, read, or found remarkable over these past twelve months of reading.

C.T. Salazar

I’m thinking of the year in context to the poems I’ve read—the frames I’ve found myself in, and the perspectives and languages poets invite us into; the beauty of inhabiting someone’s space and the task of really listening so as to experience what I hope is the point of poetry—to be transformed. The poetry collections I’m including here make me feel like I was an earlier draft of myself before reading them. They invite me to participate in the act of understanding my life in context to the larger world responsible for me having the ability to understand anything to begin with. They’re inexplicably tied to self-made contexts. When Daniel Sarah Karasik writes “poetry about silence wins prizes / as long as it’s silent about Palestine” I think about the fact that I picked up their collection in a bookstore in Mississippi. That even here in Mississippi, Palestinians are my neighbors and every day is the best day to denounce the systems that harm my neighbors. And when Jacqueline Allen Trimble begins the poem “Motherhood” with “Let’s not use a little word like love. / Let’s call it Leviathan” I think about all the people I love enough to be angry for, and the ways poets work to expand language so it fits our needs.

For every list there’s a larger shadowlist of what’s not included. One downfall I can think of with this one is that I know there’s books published this year that would be included if I had read them already. One beautiful thing about 2022 is that so many poets I love published books, and I’m still reading. I’m not really interested in conversations around “the best books” of the year, but I am interested in knowing, and articulating in return, the collections that widened my idea of what’s possible on the page and in the world.  

  1. White Bull by Elizabeth Hughey (Sarabande Books)
  2. Golden Ax by Rio Cortez (Penguin Poets)
  3. Doll Apollo by Melissa Ginsburg (LSU Press)
  4. Year Of The Unicorn Kidz by Jason B. Crawford (Sundress Publications)
  5. Best Barbarian by Roger Reeves (W. W. Norton & Co.)
  6. Always A Relic Never A Reliquary by Kim Sousa (Black Lawrence Press)
  7. Fighting Is Like A Wife by Eloisa Amezcua (Coffee House Press)
  8. Dear God. Dear Bones. Dear Yellow. by Noor Hindi (Haymarket Books)
  9. Swan Hammer: An Instructor’s Guide To Mirrors by Maggie Graber (Michigan State University Press)
  10. Sweetbitter by Stacey Balkun (Sundress Publications)
  11. Still Life by Jay Hopler (McSweeney’s)
  12. a Year & Other Poems by Jos Charles (Milkweed Editions)
  13. No Farther Than The End Of The Street by Benjamin Niespodziany (Okay Donkey Press)
  14. Dream Of The Divided Field by Yanyi (One World)
  15. More Than Meat And Raiment by Angela Jackson (TriQuarterly)
  16. Let The World Have You by Mikko Harvey (House of Anansi Press)
  17. How To Survive The Apocalypse by Jacqueline Allen Trimble (NewSouth Books)
  18. Customs by Solmaz Sharif (Graywolf Press)
  19. Him Or Her Or Whatever by Tyler Friend (Alternating Current)
  20. Plenitude by Daniel Sarah Karasik (Book*hug Press)
  21. Swallowed Light by Michael Wasson (Copper Canyon Press)
  22. So Tall It Ends In Heaven by Jayme Ringleb (Tin House Books)
  23. Thresh & Hold by Marlanda Dekine (Hub City Press)

Kelly Krumrie

"Sculpture Garden" by Zoe Darsee, Issue 2
. This piece kept reminding me of other things, but then something in a sentence, or between sentences, would turn, and it would no longer remind me of whatever it was: it made itself into something else, and I liked that toggle. Favorite moment: "standing—stone and able—nothing"

"Approximations" by Janalyn Guo, Issue 3. I first read Guo when I was a fiction reader for Denver Quarterly, and I was pleased to find another of her stories here. This one's made of expansions and contractions; Guo lets the story balloon out then snap back into place: "A neighbor once explained to me that the problem of the tree is that it is extending too far in all directions."

A Picture Held Us Captive by Danielle Dutton (Image Text Ithaca, 2022). On ekphrasis and its possibilities with/in fiction: "Fiction as gallery, a space of installation—the real print on the fictional wall. So this is one way to think of ekphrasis in fiction, an opening of rooms. And there's also crawling inside the picture to see out from eyes within. And there's another way, too, that weird alchemical transfer...some narrative effect, feeling, an experience of form."

Septology by Jon Fosse, trans. Damion Searls (Transit Books, 2022). I generally resist literary hype, especially around fiction, but I confess I jumped aboard the Fosse train, and now I'm telling you to, too. Honestly, I've had the worst year, and I haven't been able to read much at all. But I kept hearing about Septology—that it was overwhelming and meditative: art, aging, alcohol, loneliness, and Catholicism—and this December what I really needed was to be washed over and reset. I think this did that.

Valerie Hsiung

Why the Assembly Disbanded by Roberto Tejada
(Fordham University Press, 2022)—a book you read in one sitting, feel your blood circulating, you're locked in, you have to be, you're wearing a metal helmet, you're wearing a metal sheath over your entire body... and then at the end of page 50, you laugh a laugh you've never laughed before.. A perfect performance.

Kylan Rice

Lisa Robertson’s Boat (2022)and Dan Beachy-Quick’s review of it in Poetry—teach me that a notebook, its loose fragments, can also be a life-raft. Or rather, that fragments can be carpentered into a living craft that is, like a life, leaky but resilient, somehow managing to hold together, and bearing in it breath and brain, bright nails.

Willa Smart

My favorite book of the year or century is Rachel James' An Eros Encyclopedia (Wendy's Subway, 2022). Gooey, pleading, sparing, and multiple—sticky not in the sense of a finger in the jar of honey but honey caked on my cheek from your finger found later, or someone else's finger—not that I'm all that committed to the difference. When it arrives in the mail a friend and I stay up slumped on the couch reading aloud alternating pages, always another voice tacit under ours.

Sarah Sgro

This has been a big fiction year for me. I loved Vladimir by Julia May Jonas (sexy scandal with a side of broccoli slaw, and one of my favorite critiques of academia in recent memory), We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets (a queer content moderator navigates digital fixations and their messy boundaries—I read it all in one go), and Pure Colour by Sheila Heti, which entered my life at exactly the right time and is one of the most stunning novels I've ever read about "the actual distance of love." I also recommend listening to Heti's interview with the LA Review of Books on writing through loss and the uncleanliness of human attachment. 

Emily Barton Altman

 "Neck Minus Puncture" by Ellen Boyette, Issue (2)
"Early April (a dream about your shoes)" by Willa Smart, Issue (3)

From the wider world:

Radical! Women and the Irish Revolution by Julie Morrissy (self published). Written during a residency at the National Library of Ireland, Irish poet Julie Morrissy's chapbook pamphlet combines archival research with maps, photos, and research notes to unearth stories of the women involved in Ireland's early 20th century revolutionary period. The result is a poignant meditation on larger histories of place and how they are embedded in experiences of the every day, if sometimes invisibly.

A Boy in the City by S. Yarberry (Deep Vellum). Haunted by figures like William Blake and Leonora Carrington, the lyrical poems in S. Yarberry's debut collection meditate on the public and the private, on the erotic and desire, and on a world that can be simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar.

Caroline Rayner

Boat by Lisa Robertson (Coach House Books). Whenever I return to it, I want to be with it all night, languishing to linger in the heat of thought gliding into texture, letting it cloud around me like alluvial perfume, drape over me like a nightgown. I recommend it especially for summer, to read while horizontal, wearing something intricate, drinking something cool.

Renee Gladman in Conversation with Miriam Karraker (Poetry Project Newsletter #269). Flipping through journals from this year to remember what I’ve read, I keep finding notes on this interview. I keep returning to it because I keep learning from it. Something Renee said that I copied down about a month ago, when I read the interview again upon finishing Calamities: “What if fiction allowed itself to embody the energy of non-knowing, embody the ruptures of poetry, the fragments, the silences, the nonlinearity?”

Toby Altman

“alive to such work”: On Emily Wilson’s Nocturne, Issue (3)
“No One, Absolutely No One” by Robin Myers, Issue (2)

Kamden Ishmael Hilliard, MissSettl (Nightboat Books). I go to Hilliard's poems when I want to be reminded of what poetry can—should—be: unruly, virtuosic, unsettling of all that colonialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy have tried to settle.

Stephen Ira, Chasers (DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press). Is Stephen Ira going to be our greatest lyric poet? Seems likely: "We came to tell you—Transexuality frightens / us, it confesses how much beauty matters / to life."

Polina Barskova (trans. Valzhyna Mort), Air Raid (Ugly Duckling Presse). At once carnivalesque, documentary, and elegiac, Air Raid deserves to be better known. It's one of the year's most exciting poetic performances—and one of the most dynamic acts of collaborative translation.

Cody-Rose Clevidence, Listen My Friend, This is the Dream I Dreamed Last Night (The Song Cave). Immense, relentless, overwhelming, ultimately very moving, Listen My Friend is like observing the present as it is in motion. The only bad thing about this book is that it has to end.

Jenny Xie, The Rupture Tense (Graywolf Press). At the center of Jenny Xie's meditation on the Cultural Revolution—and Li Zhensheng's photographs of it—is the image itself, the way that an image can make it possible to see what would be impossible to look at otherwise. In Xie's case, one cannot look away.

Jonathan Gharraie

Can I now stop saying I need a new critical voice to come along? This year, most of my favorite reading experiences have been criticism, making up for a real deficit in my reading and a possibly imagined one in literary culture. Actually, what I've been looking for is more criticism within personal writing, because there's so much narrative potential in sifting through one's thoughts about a book, a writer, some art, its associations. Darcie Dennigan's diaristic reflections on Chantal Akerman (Why Did I Say Yes, Issue (3)) were some of what I needed: intense and funny and true to how we read. I was also grateful for Cary Stough's thoughts on Julie Doxsee's work which made me think that somebody somewhere needs to attempt an intellectual history of contemporary American poetry (Hold On To Something: New Sincerity Poetics and Julie Doxsee’s The Fastening, Issue (4)). And V. Joshua Adams made the case for E.E. Cummings' novel The Enormous Room as 'more than a proving ground of modernist technique' in (Strange Interlude: E.E. Cummings’ The Enormous Room (Issue (4)). 

Outside of Annulet, I have mostly been engaged by Vron Ware's Return of a Native: Learning from the Land (Repeater Books) and Wayne Holloway's Our Struggle (Influx Press), two books that attempt to revive or reanimate currents of feeling and revolutionary effort that should perhaps never have been forgotten.