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Mary Oishi's Latest Book Joins ABQ Poet Laureate Series

Bookworks to host book launch event on June 5.
May 29, 2024

Mary Oishi's two-year term as Albuquerque's fifth Poet Laureate from 2020 to 2022 marked a monumental time in history. COVID-19 had just become a household term, public gatherings were dwindling, and virtual events became, well, virtually all that was possible. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Oishi's tenure as Poet Laureate saw a surge in creativity and community engagement as she utilized virtual platforms to bring poets together for her project, Poets in the Libraries.

Oishi, now affectionately referred to as the "Pandemic Poet Laureate," will launch her latest collection, Sidewalk Cruiseship, at Bookworks on Wednesday, June 5 at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Sidewalk Cruiseship is also the latest book in the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Series published by the City of Albuquerque's Department of Arts & Culture in partnership with University of New Mexico Press.

Sidewalk Cruiseship draws on Oishi’s remarkable ability to illustrate the world around her and the people in it. Separated into 11 short sections by traditional Japanese tankas, the poems in Oishi’s newest collection take on the macro and the micro. They respond to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the contentious political climate as they draw readers in to witness intimate moments of people and scenes within Oishi’s beloved city of Albuquerque.

The poems explore such themes as mental illness, the joys and sorrows of motherhood, what it is to be a woman in the world, and aging and death. Readers will come away with a better sense of Albuquerque and its inhabitants and will get an intimate look at one of its most passionate citizens—a Japanese American longtime justice activist and mentor for queer youth who embraces the best and worst Albuquerque has to offer.

Oishi is the author of Spirit Birds They Told Me, the coauthor of Rock Paper Scissors, and the editor of One Albuquerque, One Hundred Poets, commemorating her Poets in the Libraries project.

Sidewalk Cruiseship is available at bookstores or directly from the University of New Mexico Press c/o Longleaf Services, Inc. To order, please call 800-848-6224 or visit