Beacon Press is proud to announce the expansion of its poetry program, adding new voices to those of the press’s renowned poets—including James Baldwin, Mary Oliver, Sonia Sanchez, and Richard Blanco—who have been an essential part of the press’s catalog. The new series is called RAISED VOICES and will serve the overarching goal of representing marginalized voices and perspectives in poetry. The series authors will offer books that affirm progressive values, give voice to many identities, are accessible to a wide readership, and celebrate poetry’s ability to access truth in a way no other form can. Beacon plans to acquire about three new titles for the series each year.
Beacon Press director Helene Atwan says, “We are so pleased to be able to launch a series of books of poetry with this important mission. Working over the years with Beacon poets, including Sonia Sanchez, Mary Oliver, Jay Parini, Richard Blanco, and, recently, Jimmy Baca, and participating in the National Poetry Series, I have come to really value the unique ability of poetry to dig very deep and to articulate important truths, and I’ve especially valued poets who work inaccessible verses that welcome a wider audience of readers.”
The team working on RAISED VOICES at Beacon, which includes Helene Atwan, associate editorial director Amy Caldwell, managing editor Susan Lumenello, associate editor Catherine Tung, and editorial assistant Nicole-Anne Bales Keyton, is especially happy to announce a distinguished advisory committee:
Richard Blanco, the award-winning author of two memoirs and four poetry collections, including Looking for the Gulf Motel, One Today, and How to Love a Country. He was selected by Barack Obama as the fifth Presidential Inaugural Poet in US history.
Mahogany L. Browne, writer, organizer, and educator, is the executive director of JustMedia, a media literacy initiative designed to support the groundwork of criminal justice leaders and community members. She is the author of Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, and Black Girl Magic.
Stephanie Burt, the literary critic, poet, and professor of English at Harvard University, has published five collections of poetry and many books, essays, and articles on poetry, comics, music, and trans and queer culture, including Advice from the Lights, Belmont, and Parallel Play.
Josh Cook, a bookseller at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose own fiction, criticism, and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines and journals.
Ha Jin, a poet and novelist whose much acclaimed work, including Waiting, War Trash, and, most recently, A Song Everlasting, has received awards including the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Hemingway, and the Flannery O’Connor Prize.
Jimmy Santiago Baca, an award-winning poet and writer who learned to read in a maximum-security prison, emerging as a prolific artist of the spoken and written word, and whose books include the memoir A Place to Stand and the book-length poem When I Walk Through That Door I Am.
Hill Saxton, a youth services librarian at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who received their master of library and information science degree from Simmons College.
Helene adds: “It’s especially rewarding to be launching the series with a bilingual book by a writer who is beloved in the community of writers, Achy Obejas.”
The inaugural books in the series are:
Boomerang/Bumerán, published on September 7, 2021, is a unique and inspiring bilingual collection of lyrical poetry written in a bold, mostly gender-free English and Spanish and which addresses immigration, displacement, love, and activism. Achy Obejas is a Cuban American writer, translator, and activist whose work focuses on personal and national identity. Her story collection The Tower of the Antilles was a PEN/Faulkner finalist, and her novel Days of Awe was called one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times.
antes que isla es volcán/before island is volcano, which will be published April 5, 2022, is a Spanish and English poetry collection that imagines the decolonial future of Puerto Rico. Raquel Salas Rivera is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and editor; the author of five full-length poetry books, he has won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry and has been nominated for the National Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award.
Some of the Light: New and Selected Poems, a collection of lyric and political poems, which will be published in spring 2023, evokes single fatherhood, life in the time of COVID, children imprisoned in detainment facilities at the US-Mexico border, and life in California’s San Joaquin valley. Tim Z. Hernandez is an award-winning poet, a novelist, a research scholar, and a performance artist. His debut collection of poetry, Skin Tax, received the 2006 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and the James Duval Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation.
Common Grace, which will be published in fall 2022, is a three-part collection that explores the author’s life and art, the death of his parents (told loosely through the lens of ubasute, a mythical Japanese tradition wherein the son delivers his aged mother to a mountain and leaves her to die), and his relationship with his wife. Aaron Caycedo-Kimura, a poet and visual artist, is the author of the chapbook Ubasute, winner of the 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition, and the author and illustrator of Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life.