Danusha Laméris’s new book is filled with small kindnesses

A luminous poetry collection marked by joy and sorrow, humor and truth.

Many readers will recognize Danusha Laméris as the author of the much-beloved poem “Small Kindnesses,” which went viral in 2019, shared by hundreds of thousands of people online and published in outlets including the New York Times Magazine. That short but masterful poem perhaps best encapsulates what her latest collection, Bonfire Opera, accomplishes by using swatches of specific, personal narratives to illuminate universal aspects of the human experience.

One of the most delightful traits of this book is the accessible and conversational tone of her writing. She often begins a poem in medias res, as if speaking with a friend. She starts “Small Kindnesses” with this simple confession:

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”