Punks: New & Selected Poems

Winner, National Book Awards 2022 for Poetry

Punks: New and Selected Poems
ISBN 9781737277521
The Song Cave
author photo of poet John Keene. (Photo credit: Nina Subin)
John Keene

John Keene is the author, co-author, and translator of a handful of books, including the poetry collection Punks: New & Selected Poems, which received a 2022 Thom Gunn Award from the Publishing Triangle and a 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and is longlisted for the 2022 Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize; and Counternarratives, which received an American Book Award, a Lannan Literary Award and a Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

A landmark collection of poetry by acclaimed fiction writer, translator, and MacArthur Fellow John Keene, Punks: New & Selected Poems is a generous treasury in seven sections that spans decades and includes previously unpublished and brand new work. With depth and breadth, Punks weaves together historic narratives of loss, lust, and love. The many voices that emerge in these poems—from historic Black personalities, both familial and famous, to the poet’s friends and lovers in gay bars and bedrooms—form a cast of characters capable of addressing desire, oppression, AIDS, and grief through sorrowful songs that “we sing as hard as we live.” At home in countless poetic forms, Punks reconfirms John Keene as one of the most important voices in contemporary poetry.

Judges Citation

John Keene’s poems in Punks: New & Selected Poems invoke the notion of flow—which speaks beautifully to the idea of fluidity and movement in form—a flow that is constantly being interrupted by philosophical musings and deep longings, thick with queer desire. In the end, Keene returns to his lucid beatitudes: “Love,” he commands, “the shipwreck of your body, your mind’s / salted garden.” Punks is a monumental enterprise in scrupulous and hopeful transformations.


John Keene accepts the 2022 National Book Award for Poetry for Punks: New & Selected Poems

John Keene at the 2022 National Book Awards Finalist Reading