TO ACHIEVING PERFECT HELPLESSNESS, by Robin Coste Lewis. (Knopf, $35.) This hybrid book juxtaposes Lewis’s poems with photographs she found in her grandmother’s house that documented their family’s move from Louisiana to Los Angeles during the Great Migration. The book becomes a meditation on origins, loss and blackness.
triptychs, by Sandra Simonds. (Wave, paperback, $18.) For her eighth volume of poetry, Simonds limits herself to writing on a roll of receipt paper (“paper that cannot grow/longer cannot unroll”), resulting in short lines arranged in narrow pillars of fresh arranged three per page, in evolving thematic conversation.
DECADE OF THE BRAIN: Poems, by Janine Joseph. (Alice James, paperback, $17.95.) The speaker in these poems struggles to regain a sense of self after a traumatic brain injury. “In the before‘ writes Joseph in ‘Indelible in the Amygdala,’ ‘before my hardware failed, I was not a cold computer.’
AN ORDINARY LIFE: Poems, by BH Fairchild. (Norton, $26.95.) “This is the world. All that is of it,” Fairchild concludes a poem that references his father’s machine shop in Kansas, a frequent touchstone of his long career. With sharp images and explanatory sentences, these poems suggest that every life is extraordinary.
NO RIGHT TO AN HONEST LIFE: The Struggle of Boston’s Black Workers in the Civil War Era, by Jacqueline Jones. (Basic Books, $35.) Jones challenges Boston’s reputation as the center of abolitionist capitalism in the decades before the Civil War, revealing the movement’s limited influence in the city and the “accidental brutality” that the black residents underwent in the workforce.
FREEDOM MOVES: knowledge of hip hop, pedagogy and future, edited by H. Samy Alim, Jeff Chang and Casey Wong. (University of California, paperback, $29.95.) This volume presents essays that reflect on how hip-hop music has helped communities around the world understand their history and identity over the past half century.
IN THE SERVICE OF THE NATION: The Life and Times of George P. Shultz, by Phillip Taubman. (Stanford University, $35.) This biography of Shultz, a cabinet member in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations, draws on his personal papers for an intimate portrait.
RANDY: The complete and complete unedited biography and memoir of the great life and times of Randy S., by Mike Sacks. (Archway, paperback, $16.95.) This “reprint” of an imaginary book Sacks “found” at a tag sale in Maryland presents a fictionalized biography written about a suburban bachelor living outside DC