Debut Poetry: Summer 2018


Let 2018 be the year of knowing all the debut poets—as well as the wonderful publishers making their dreams a reality. Here are 7 collections that came out from emerging poets this summer.


Kelly Forsythe’s


Claudia Rankine says, “These poems reverberate against their walls—the walls of a classroom, of a school, the seemingly closed system of adolescence, the boundaries of the body itself—creating an atmosphere of unnerving intimacy.”

Kelly Forsythe’s work has been published in Black Warrior Review, The Literary Review, The Minnesota Review, and Columbia Poetry Review, among others. Forsythe was the director of publicity for Copper Canyon Press for over half a decade and is the founder of Phantom Books, an online literary journal and chapbook press. She teaches creative writing in the Jiménez-Porter Writers House at the University of Maryland and works at National Geographic.

Published by Coffee House Press.

Read an interview with Kelly here.


Emily Jungmin Yoon’s

A Cruelty Special to Our Species

Eleanor Chai says, “[A] deeply reverent debut collection. . . [Yoon] writes these poems in her second language, an English in which she takes mindful, absorbing residence while her ‘native tongue is a code’ that orchestrates with brimming precision what can be imagined, mourned, remembered, invented and haunted.”

Emily Jungmin Yoon is the author of Ordinary Misfortunes, the 2017 winner of the Sunken Garden Chapbook Prize by Tupelo Press. Yoon was born in Busan, Republic of Korea and received her BA at the University of Pennsylvania and MFA in Creative Writing at New York University. Her poems and translations have appeared in publications including The New Yorker, POETRY, The New York Times Magazine, and Korean Literature Now.

Published by Ecco Press.

Read an interview with Emily here.


Ashley Toliver’s


Heather Christle says, “Reading Spectra makes me feel like Toliver has stitched a new constellation into my mind; she has written that much dark, that much light.”

Ashley Toliver is the author of the chapbook Ideal Machine. Her work has been supported by fellowships from Oregon Literary Arts, Cave Canem, and the Academy of American Poets. She received her MFA from Brown University in 2013 and is the Poetry Editor of Moss.

Published by Coffee House Press.

Visit Ashley’s personal website here.


Jasmine Gibson’s

Don’t Let Them See Me Like This

Tongo Eisen-Martin says, “Here there are no gods of private causes. Just words dashing on our behalf, only a breath’s distance in front of the beast.”

Jasmine Gibson is a Philly jawn based in Brooklyn. She spends her time thinking about sexy things like psychosis, desire, and freedom. She is the author of the chapbook Drapetomania (Commune Editions 2015).

To be published by Nighboat Books.

Read an interview with Jasmine here.


José Olivarez’s

Citizen Illegal

Eve Ewing says, “Citizen Illegal is right on time, bringing both empathy and searing critique to the fore as a nation debates the very humanity of the people who built it.”

José Olivarezis the son of Mexican immigrants. He is a co-host of the podcast, The Poetry Gods. A winner of fellowships from Poets House, The Bronx Council On The Arts, The Poetry Foundation, and The Conversation Literary Festival, his work has been published in The BreakBeat Poets and elsewhere. He is the Marketing Manager at Young Chicago Authors.

Published by Haymarket Books.

Read an interview with José here.


Fatimah Asghar’s

If They Come for Us

Ross Gay says, “the wonder of this book is the way that throughout the anguish and sorrow and rage, despite it, there is tenderness. There is sweetness. There is care. This book reminds us: These, too, are our inheritances.”

Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet, screenwriter, educator and performer.  Her work has appeared in many journals, including  POETRY Magazine, Gulf Coast, BuzzFeed Reader, The Margins, The Offing, Academy of American Poets and many others. Her chapbook After came out on Yes Yes Books fall 2015. She is the writer and co-creator of Brown Girls, an Emmy-nominated web series that highlights friendships between women of color.

Published by One World Books.

Watch an interview with Fatimah here.


John Myers’

Smudgy and Lossy

Prageeta Sharma says, “The poems hold the imagination in front of the image, glossing-over or rusting the poem’s sentiment… In the end these poems reveal only what they intend: to loom “beyond Eros and ferns.”

John Myers grew up in the Endless Mountains and now lives in Moscow, Idaho. John’s work has appeared in Aufgabe, Denver Quarterly, Lungfull, Fence, and Pank.

Published by The Song Cave.

Read an interview with John here.