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Three new collections, one haunting, one cathartic and one reflective, remind us why we celebrate National Poetry Month.

In "New and Selected Poems," Marie Howe collects 20 new works and 91 older ones, sampling 30 years of her acutely observant verse.

Where earlier poems contend with gender expectations, childhood abuse and the weight of unspeakable grief, Howe's new work contemplates how age affects her interactions with the world.

In "Seventy," Howe observes, "I've grown less apparent apparently" in a society geared toward younger generations. Irrelevance, however, brings relief, as she explains, "Finally, I can slip through the world without being so adamantly in it."

Fading into the background comes up again in "Practicing," where Howe says, "I'm going to practice being dead for a few hours. / No one can expect anything from me." It contrasts a similarly-titled poem Howe published in 1997, where adolescents clandestinely explore and suppress parts of themselves. Melancholy hovers over the older poem as Howe considers what we give up to find footing among our peers, but this new "Practicing" reads as a reclamation, with Howe divesting herself of others to get a better grasp of herself.

Howe's poems, both new and old, are a revelation as she expertly illuminates quiet, intimate moments.

Award-winning poet Joyelle McSweeney's searing "Death Styles" grew out of a writing regimen she undertook after her infant daughter's death. McSweeney had three rules: to write daily, to accept whatever inspiration presented to her and to follow that inspiration as far as she could.

Often titled with the day of their composition, her poems stem from wildly differing muses, including '90s action movies, hospital planters and New York City's combined sewer overflow system. No matter the starting point, though, McSweeney captures how trauma bleeds through everything, mapping out the way, for example, a skunk crossing a groomed lawn calls up images of infant seizures and makes McSweeney remember seeing her daughter's "mouth make / that shape that makes me shake" ("8.11.20″).

McSweeney's anguish wells out of her poems as she works to "reconcile grief's desire to look backward with survival's command to move forward."

U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón, as part of a project placing poetry installations in seven national parks, is the editor of "You Are Here," an anthology of 50 new pieces by accomplished poets, considering our relationship to nature.

As expected, there are paeans to the immense beauty found in the woods in poems like Dorianne Laux's "Redwoods," which takes note of the "great buttery platters of fungus" climbing trees.

Still, surprises pepper the collection. Eduardo C. Corral comments on our dehumanizing politics in "To a Blossoming Saguaro," where he observes that the cactus "has more rights than the undocumented: /I need a permit to uproot you." The climate crisis anchors Ellen Bass' "Lighthouse," as she describes walking with her toddler granddaughter after heavy rains flood California.

You Are Here
You Are Here

"I won't be here when the worst /of what's coming comes," she writes, feeling that "something starts to collapse" inside her when she considers the future awaiting her granddaughter.

As Limón writes in her introduction, these poems capture our world in this moment, "crucial and urgent, yes, but also full of wonder and awe at every turn."

Vikas Turakhia is an English teacher in Ohio.

New and Selected Poems

By: Marie Howe.

Publisher: Norton, 192 pages, $28.99.

Death Styles

By: Joyelle McSweeney.

Publisher: Nightboat, 136 pages, $17.95.

You Are Hereó

Edited by: Ada Limón.

Publisher: Milkweed, 128 pages, $25.