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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

April 1, 2014
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Two new books of poetry take different approaches to the written word and its conundrums. Can words express the truth, or are we asking too much of them?

From the Archives: Two From Saturnalia Books

March 1, 2014
knot

John Cotter looks into new mixed-media books of poetry by Bill Knott and John Yau to discover shades of meaning in the interplay of artwork and verse.

Office Space

February 1, 2014
Office Space

When we read poetry, we want the transcendence of art: how is that compatible with being at work? A new collection of poems explores the possibilities.

January 2014 Issue

January 1, 2014
January 2014 Issue

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Studio Matto e Disperatissimo: The Life and Writings of Giacomo Leopardi

December 1, 2013
Studio Matto e Disperatissimo: The Life and Writings of Giacomo Leopardi

He was the greatest Italian poet since Dante, but he was tormented by a strict upbringing, ruinous health, and moods of black pessmism. He was Giacomo Leopardi, and this is his story.

Thousands of Grids

December 1, 2013
Thousands of Grids

Building on his previous work, in New Poems Ben Mazer tries to find a balance between structure and fluidity.

Connect the Dots

October 1, 2013
<u>Connect the Dots </u>

What kind of reader would she be, our Poetry Editor asks, if she didn’t allow herself to be susceptible to Ange Mlinko’s sublime, piercing unreason?

Home, Where the Art Is

August 1, 2013
Home, Where the Art Is

In “Belmont,” Stephen Burt, poet of Boston’s byways, offers readers verses that so court the senses as almost to confound them, shifting from technical confidence to unstructured questioning. As Kirsten Kaschock writes, “Burt attempts in these pages what Shylock did not dare” …

August 2013 Issue

August 1, 2013
August 2013 Issue

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From the Archives: Zoom

August 1, 2013
From the Archives: Zoom

There can be no more obvious target in the literary landscape than a popularly selling book-length poem. With Sharp Teeth, Toby Barlow has dared to write such a thing, and John Cotter has responded accordingly.

July 2013 Issue

July 1, 2013
July 2013 Issue

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Second Glance: Reticent Confessional

July 1, 2013
Second Glance: Reticent Confessional

Hospital visits, supermarket checkouts, and casseroles – the odd, unassuming verse of Jenny Bornholdt might leave some critics wondering if it’s actually poetry at all. Critic Stephen Akey says her work is intimate yet reserved – and warns us not to expect The Duino Elegies.

The Wandering Page

June 1, 2013
The Wandering Page

Modernist poet P. K. Page may be the most important Canadian author you’ve never heard of. An impressive new biography, replete with examples of Page’s poetry and prose, seeks to remedy that.

Rending the Familiar

May 1, 2013
Rending the Familiar

Shane Book’s evocative collection Ceiling of Sticks shows us our familiar world in ways that might surprise even the most jaded reader into optimism about poetry.

“A Crystal Stranger Taking Off Their Mask”

May 1, 2013
“A Crystal Stranger Taking Off Their Mask”

Constructing a “walrus itself” is a difficult thing to do – but it’s just one of the transubstantiations Ben Mirov attempts in his latest collection of poems

The Impossible Magic of Becoming

April 1, 2013
The Impossible Magic of Becoming

Even the speaker in Jennifer Denrow’s new book knows that the California she imagines is one she’ll never visit, one that cannot possibly be real – but that’s what makes it so alluring.

Point of Origin

March 1, 2013
Point of Origin

“He said he would have Crispin Glover play him in a movie”–Alejandro Ventura’s image-rich and always funny poetry is on full display in Puerto Rico. Joe Betz reviews.

Truth be Told: On Natasha Trethewey

February 1, 2013
Truth be Told: On Natasha Trethewey

Current Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway mines American history–the early colonies, slavery, the Civil War–for the material of her poetry. Teow Lim Goh visits with the figures she’s brought back to life.

Tom and Em

January 1, 2013
Tom and Em

It is said that Thomas Hardy fell deeply in love with his wife, Emma, only after she died. Stephen Akey revisits the stunning, elegiac poetry he wrote in her memory.

How the Higgs Streams in the Firmament

January 1, 2013
How the Higgs Streams in the Firmament

What do Christopher Marlowe and the newly discovered Higgs boson particle have in common? Anthony Lock explores the connection, by way of unified fields.

Nothing To Do With Dante

December 1, 2012
Nothing To Do With Dante

Kathleen Rooney’s poems in Robinson Alone can be read two ways–as standalone pieces and as connected parts that form a single poetic narrative of a character’s life

From the Archives: Tribute and Farewell

December 1, 2012
Nox-accordion-fold

A look back at Anne Carson’s book-length elegy “Nox,” in which readers are asked not only to unfold the poetry’s symbols and allusions but also the accordion-like book itself.

Never-Neverland

November 1, 2012
Never-Neverland

The fairy tale has been through several metamorphoses; the next might result in its extinction. Max Ross reviews Jack Zipes’s cultural history of the genre.

Wabbit-hunting

November 1, 2012
Wabbit-hunting

In sparse and contrapuntal verse, familiar words are warped out of their comfortable meanings, and sharpened to juxtapose – but is Joyelle McSweeney’s latest experiment a success?

Songs of Experience

October 1, 2012
AMadrid

Sufi mystics, barbaric yawps, and the comedy of the sexes are what’s inside Anthony Madrid’s new collection of ghazals. What does our poetry editor make of this puzzling Persian pattern?

Talking about Hats, and Maybe Goats

October 1, 2012
Talking about Hats, and Maybe Goats

Emily Pettit turns nonsense into horse sense, or goat sense, in her new collection Goat in the Snow

Nine Ways of Looking at D’Annunzio

October 1, 2012
Nine Ways of Looking at D’Annunzio

Madman, lothario, despot, drug fiend, friend and enemy of Mussolini – and immortal poet. Gabriele D’Annunzio was all of these things and many more in his whirlwind of a life.

‘By hunger I mean more’

September 1, 2012
fengsunchen

Myth and fairy tale seem as far from true as can be, but Feng Sun Chen’s poetry uses them to explore the necessities and unavoidable transformations of life.

Attainted: The Life and Afterlife of Ezra Pound in Italy

September 1, 2012
ep

Pound wrote The Pisan Cantos on toilet paper while prisoner in an open-air metal cage during WWII, and he spent many of the following years in mental hospitals. “I can get along with crazy people,” he quipped. “It’s only the fools I can’t stand.”

Therapeutic Wordsworth

September 1, 2012
Prelude

There are warring schools of fad and interpretation, there are critical readings of an hour or a season – and then there’s Wordsworth’s verse itself, annotating and amplifying the personal reading experience.

Videos of Glory

September 1, 2012
LiPre

William Shakespeare meets Halo 2 in Colby Somerville’s new chapbook Death TV (1-6): the drone of bees in ancient glades and the drone of Lockheed Martin. What’s the poet onto?

Today He Wrote Something

August 1, 2012
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Matvei Yankelevich’s poetry may seem direct and plainspoken, but as a new collection shows, his verse reveals a long battle with the uncertainty of language.

Good in the Good Sense: Antonio Machado

August 1, 2012
camposdecastilla

The great Antonio Machado loved his native Spain and was disgusted by its descent into fascism; that fusion of enchantment and grief vivifies his unforgettable poetry.

Aloof in Ceasar’s Empire

August 1, 2012
jbrodsky

In Soviet Russia, Joseph Brodsky was persecuted by the authorities, but memorized by ordinary people. In the capitalist West, he was feted by the authorities, but ignored by ordinary people. Perhaps it’s just as well he thought reality “nonsense or a nuisance.”

Humane to Hornets: The Poetry of James Schuyler

July 1, 2012
afewdays

The verses of the neglected poet James Schuyler seem to ramble, but they don’t really ramble; they seem dishevelled, but they aren’t; they seem miniaturist, but they contain whole worlds. Stephen Akey makes the case for your renewed attention.

Deus in Machina: poetic technique in Derek Walcott’s Omeros

May 1, 2012
claude-lorrain-seaport

Derek Walcott’s long Homeric tribute “Omeros” will likely stand as his masterpiece and reward detailed study for centuries. And as with Homer, even small fragments of the world can yield fascinating insights.

Bad for You

May 1, 2012
collossus

Known as much for how she exited her life as for the poetry she wrote during it, Sylvia Plath remains a polarizing figure in the world of verse. What are we reading, when we subject ourselves to her poems?

Odi et Amo

April 1, 2012
Catullus

The work of the Roman poet Catullus has always challenged the received idioms of poetry and society, and a daring new translation both underscores and undermines that iconoclastic Catullan stance.

Aid in the Labyrinth

March 1, 2012
RJ1914-1965

Randall Jarrell was suspicious of attempts to turn criticism into a science: he wrote as a reader, for other readers, with the work itself foremost in his mind.

City Zen

February 1, 2012
kateSchapira

How should we relate to our cities? To ourselves? Kate Schapira couldn’t be asking more important questions in her latest collections of poems, How We Saved The City, and The Bounty: Four Addresses

Recognizably Human: Larkin and the Sentimental

February 1, 2012
Philip-Larkin-Postcard-2-290×290

Nobody would accuse the mature Larkin of being a greeting card poet, and yet a warm and even vulnerable sentimentality bubbles up in his verse, often when it’s least expected.

Disembodied Embodiment

October 1, 2011
oliver

The late Akilah Oliver’s poetry uses language to escape the trap of consciousness–verse “as rapture, as rupture” alike

Rime Redux

October 1, 2011
marinerwhale

A new graphic novel reworks Coleridge’s classic confrontation between man and nature for our times, taking us on a grand tour of environmental degradation.

“Signs of the Real”

October 1, 2011
GinaMyers

Between the abstract and the solid, between Michigan and New York City, in and out of love, Gina Myers brings betweeness to the fore in her first collection of poems

All the Questions

August 1, 2011
clbecker

In her new collection of poems, Claire Becker probes the matter between what we intuit and what we learn, between what we choose and how we change.

The Zither and the Worm

June 1, 2011
newimpressionsofafrica

French trailblazer Raymond Roussel created teeming and fertile worlds from a secret process of wordplay. Two of his most spectacular works are coming back into print after a long, undeserved absence.

The Summery Night Before the Frost

June 1, 2011
georgedillon

Best known today as the muse and lover of Edna St. Vincent Millay, George Dillon was a formidable poet and personality in his own right, and one well worth rereading.

What’s the Big Idea?

June 1, 2011
hindenburgexplodesoverlakehurst

FSG gave fifty poets almost no time at all to write a nation-and-epoch-spanning poem based on ancient Japanese techniques. What could possibly go wrong? Or, more interestingly, what went right?

Primal Mysteries

June 1, 2011
swithering

In his latest collection, The Wrecking Light, Robin Robertson blends the voices of generations of Scottish/Celtic bards and balladeers into his own unique style of poetry.

Book Review: As We Are Sung

May 1, 2011
mengert

There is nothing conventional about Christina Mengert’s new book of poetry, nor can it be read the same way twice.

Elemental Edge

April 1, 2011
Adamantine

Shin Yu Pai engages with history, tradition, and the world around her in her new collection of poems.

The Sad Flaneuse

March 1, 2011
rachelwetzsteon

The slim body of work of the late New York poet Rachel Wetzsteon skips the faux-Horatian filigree in favor of an unsentimental depiction of modern life and contradictory emotion. And yet, her poems are both outspoken and intimate, and Manhattan is her Rome. Horace might have been flattered after all.

What is he doing?

January 1, 2011
images-2

“A Glyn Maxwell poem encourages us towards an emotion or a point of view not by stating it, often not even by showing it, but by bringing us in stages to cooperate in doing the work of recreating it.”

Beyond the Pillars of Hercules

September 1, 2010
800px-Feuerbach_symposium

In addition to their gods and goddesses, the ancient Greeks worshiped youth and athletic prowess, and their foremost bard was Pindar.

Lost, Well-Lost

June 1, 2010
burroughs

In his study of the poetry and life of dissolute writer Alexander Trocchi, our intrepid corespondent follows him into the dark corners he described, and consorts with smoky ghosts.

Like Some Chalice of Old Time

June 1, 2010
thomaswyattholbein

From Wyatt to Wordsworth to Bishop (and not forgetting that Shakespeare fellow), that waltz of verse, the sonnet, has survived and thrived. A new collection has some fresh faces.

Adeste Fideles

April 1, 2010
PD*2334451

Woe to the critic who calls Edith Grossman’s translations “seamless.” In her combative new treatise she argues for a greater recognition of the artistry of translation–but how many liberties can a translator take while staying true to the original?

Artifice and Discipline

March 1, 2010
Nomina

The personas and poetics of five new books by American women are examined in with an eye toward concealment and of revelation: Matthea Harvey, Katy Lederer, Brenda Shaugnessey, Robyn Schiff, and Karen Volkman.

His Homelands

March 1, 2010
Ugo_Foscolo

He was a soldier, a lover, an exile, and a wanderer – he was Ugo Foscolo,and thanks to a new translation, readers will learn he was one thing more: a powerful poet.

Everywhere There’s Georgia

February 1, 2010
petals of zero

“opium” Georgias, “hotwired” Georgias, and “mercury” Georgias, are cataloged and blasted in Andrew Zawacki’s new collection Petals of Zero / Petals of One. But who or what or where is Georgia’s eponym?

David R. Slavitt on Young John Milton

February 1, 2010
slavitt

Long before he wrote some of the most powerful poems in English, John Milton, as a brainy teenager, wrote verse in Latin. Celebrated translator David Slavitt tells us a little about them.

Real Fake Flowers

February 1, 2010
ddddd

Karl Parker’s moves are more than merely clever: I-less one minute, present & friendly the next, he darts behind masks and speaks IN BOLD, as our contributing editor discovers in her review.

Blast and Scatteration

January 1, 2010
Blast and Scatteration

John Madera reviews Michael Leong’s e.s.p. and recounts the scramble of names, idioms, puns, and wild associations he finds in the poems

Second Glance: “Today belongs to few and tomorrow to no one”

January 1, 2010
Napalm

As Ingrid Norton reports, the eerie and heartbroken poems of W.S. Merwin’s The Lice continue to resonate thirty years on: whispering, creeping, shaking.

Bluets

December 26, 2009
bluets-image

Bluets
Maggie Nelson
Wave Books, 2009
Maggie Nelson’s Bluets starts with its worst sentence: “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.” I am suspicious of this sentence; I find …

Mandarin Duck avec Sartre

November 1, 2009
Water-the-Moon

Exile, displacement, and polyglot discovery fill the verses of Fiona Sze-Lorrain; Edward McFadden journeys through Water the Moon.

Horace in the Afternoon

November 1, 2009
penguinodes

He was everybody’s friend, and his poetry breathes with life even today. He was Horace, and “A Year with the Romans” makes his acquaintance.

Survey Says!

October 1, 2009
survey-says-cover

Survey Says!
Nathan Austin
Black Maze Books, 2009
Survey Says is a short book of white margins and large type, considering solely of answers provided on The Family Feud (in 2005 and 2008):
I soak my dishes. Bambi. Hamburger. …

The Grace of Seduction

October 1, 2009
RecognizingPersius

Steve Donoghue’s “A Year with the Romans” continues with a look at the obscure Roman poet Persius – and the great new book about him.

Tricky Shticks

September 1, 2009
dick-of-the-dead

Nixon, Bushes, and the War on Terror have been surprisingly good for poetry. Maureen Thorson releases her findings on National Anthem and Dick of the Dead.

Stem and Root

September 1, 2009
scape

From the forbidding North to the torrid South, the poetry debuts of Joshua Harmon and Farrah Field explore the geography of words. John Cotter gives centrality to locality.

In Praise of Snobbery

July 1, 2009
carol-ann-duffy

Great Britain has finally made a woman poet laureate—and a lesbian no less. As Bryn Haworth reports, when she’s isn’t writing about the Royals, she’s plenty worthy of the honor. Since writing about the Royals is one of the job’s few requirements, what changes might we expect from the post?

Ten Questions for Sarah Ruden

May 1, 2009
sarahruden

Sarah Ruden, the latest and greatest translator of Vergil’s Aeneid, offers a funny and fascinating glimpse inside the classicist’s world in this Open Letters interview.

Postal Worker? Poodle?

May 1, 2009
saga_circus

Poet’s poet Lyn Hejinian has turned poet’s novelist in Lola, half of her new collection Saga/Circus. John Cotter circles its sagacity.

Second Glance: ‘Do Not, Future People, Bring Up a Child the Wrong Way’

May 1, 2009
kalevala

The Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, was compiled in the early 19th century from a much older oral tradition—can it possibly have anything to teach the modern reader? Sean Hughes has some surprising answers.

Romanticism

April 26, 2009
romanticism

Romanticism
April Bernard
W.W. Norton, 2009
Most of the poems in this collection, the fourth from April Bernard (whom W.S. Merwin deems “brilliant” on the flap copy, a poet of “power and ambition”) are rather lovely—and at …

Poemland

April 1, 2009
pomeland

Poemland
by Chelsey Minnis
Wave Books, 2008
Chelsey Minnis is something of a poet’s poet, and to certain readers her third book, Poemland, will come off as undisciplined, even ridiculous. But to readers who want to be in …

Guide

April 1, 2009
dido_and_aeneas

Virgil’s Aeneid has been attracting translators for centuries, and Sarah Ruden’s rendering is notable in more ways than one. (She calls him Vergil, for one thing, but that’s just the start.) Steve Donoghue regards her efforts in the latest “A Year with the Romans.”

The King

February 26, 2009
the-king

The King
Rebecca Wolff
Norton, 2009
Being pregnant, giving birth, and raising a child is both the most mundane of processes and the most miraculous. In the hands of the wrong poet, it is a subject that can …

The Arrested Artistry of Elinor Wylie

February 1, 2009
wylie1922-carlvanvechtenpapers, yale

Elinor Wylie has not received the respect of posterity that she herself thought she deserved. John G. Rodwan, Jr. explores the reasons for that neglect, and the poetry that survives it.

Satellite Convulsions

January 26, 2009
cover_s_c_poems

Satellite Convulsions
Tin House Books
2008
In Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House, Portland’s Tin House Books has released an enticing anthology of contemporary poetry: It’s got one of those nice paperback covers with page-marking flaps, proclaiming contents …

Jack Spicer on Mars

January 1, 2009
spicer

When Jack Spicer was alive, his books could only be had in small editions, in and around the Bay area. Thanks to a new collection, My Vocabulary Did This to Me, that work has finally arrived. Jared White takes us deep into Spicer’s magical, reckless world.

Finely Woven Webs

January 1, 2009
cr_donne_portrait_young

Poetry meets anatomy when Lianne Habinek reads Donne, who, in “The Flea” and other poems, aimed to discover the seat of the soul

And a Tree

January 1, 2009
taggart_there

John Taggart’s most recent book, There Are Birds, might net him a wider audience, thanks to a personal touch in those trademark cadences. Adam Golaski guides us into Taggart’s songlike sonorities.

The Damage Collector

January 1, 2009
flying-backwards_

C.D. Wright collects her poems from scraps of overheard conversation, wandering memories, newspaper headlines. In his review of Rising, Falling, Hovering, John Cotter surveys the damage suspended in that scaffolding.

Like Life

January 1, 2009
picturepalace

The lyric I and the lyric eye are in play and in question in Stephanie Young’s second book, Picture Palace. Elisa Gabbert illuminates its pitfalls and its charms.

Foutez-moi le paix!

January 1, 2009
edmund-white

It may be debatable whether the most maudit of all the poètes deserves the tribute, but Gaston Frontenac finds the nasty, beautiful Rimbaud well served by Edmund White’s new Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel

Water Lily Mud

January 1, 2009
niebecker-small

Lorine Niedecker knew the literary life in New York, fell for Louis Zukofsky, published in Objectivist magazines, then returned to Wisconsin, where her poems continued growing spare, surreal, and deep. Heather Green reviews what the new collection Radical Varnacular adds to our understanding of her world.

Katrina Cries

January 1, 2009
blood

Sharon Fulton reviews Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler, a “resonant and devastating” examination of the Katrina disaster and the Bush administration’s failure to contain its fallout.

State of the Union

August 8, 2008
wave-large

State of the Union
Eds. Joshua Beckman and Matthew Zapruder
Wave Books, 2008
There are many things I like about the new political anthology from Wave Books, State of the Union. I like its size–very manageable at just …

The Reappearance of All Things

June 1, 2008
wright2

In the second of two essays, Chad Reynolds adjudges that in The Presentable Art of Reading Absence Wright himself could have stood to evanesce a smidge of his own ego in the course of his “users guide to evanescence”

The Songs of Sing

June 1, 2008
economycover

What defines an anthology? What are the limits of verse? Derek Henderson definitively answers these and thousands of other questions in his detailed and celebratory review of A Sing Economy.

Quaker Guns

May 8, 2008
Knox-205×300

Quaker Guns
Caroline Knox
Wave Books, 2008
Caroline Knox is a serious goofball. In Quaker Guns, her sixth and latest book of poetry, her over-the-top whimsy pays off more often than not, sometimes with big dividends.
Though Knox’s poems …

Analfabeto / An Alphabet

May 5, 2008
baxt300

Analfabeto / An Alphabet
Ellen Baxt
Shearsman, 2007
Dictionary lists intersperse the fragmentary text of Analfabeto / An Alphabet, but they are always incomplete. We have the English, but we don’t have all the Portuguese. So, for the …

The Beauty of Failure

May 1, 2008
Wright

In the first of two essays on Jay Wright’s new Dalkey Archive books, Chad Reynolds describes the work of an old poet not half ready to go under the earth and still coming to terms with what it means to live on the surface in Polynomials and Pollen.

Kleinzahleresque

May 1, 2008
august

August Kleinzahler is not an old man, yet Sleeping It Off in Rapid City is his fourth Selected Poems. John Cotter explores why you’ll need the old ones too and why you may find yourself with a use for the word “Kleinzahleresque.”

Absent Friends: Gentle Poet

May 1, 2008
Tibullus

At a poetry reading on the Palatine 2,000 years ago, you’d have spent a week’s pay to hear him read. Today he’s unknown, except to our Steve Donoghue (and a few of our readers, no doubt). Here, after a long time gone, is the Roman poet Tibullus.

Two From No Tell Books

December 1, 2007
potvin

Jeffrey Eaton absorbs himself in the weirdly familiar and the familiarly weird worlds of Shafer Hall’s Never Cry Woof and PF Potvin’s The Attention Lesson.

Two From Tupelo Press

November 1, 2007
ocity

Two poets gather up the treasures of the past, one by tossing them in a pile, the other by building a gallery. Chad Reynolds digs into new books by Amy England and Priscilla Sneff.

Two From FSG

August 1, 2007
ooga

John Cotter leads us to the interior of two extremely different books of poetry, Charles Wright’s reflective and naturalist Littlefoot and Frederick Seidel’s garish and weird Ooga-Booga.

Two from Black Ocean Press

July 1, 2007
arrival

Chris Tonelli tackles the wily metaphysics of Zachary Schomburg’s
The Man Suit and Paula Cisewski’s Upon Arrival.

One Man’s César Vallejo

June 1, 2007
vallejo

John Cotter guides us through Clayton Eshleman’s translations of the startling, invigorating poetry of César Vallejo, one of the earliest and most underrepresented of the modernists.

Three From Coach House Books

June 1, 2007
crystallography

Adam Golaski champions the “difficult read” in his review of the poetry of a. rawlings, Christian Bök, and Nathalie Stephens.

You Eatee?

May 1, 2007
donne

Steve Donoghue reviews John Donne: The Reformed Soul, a new “cuss-and-codpiece” biography by the inconceivably youthful John Stubbs

Three From Wave Books

April 1, 2007
sorrytree

Kathy Rooney makes a close study of the cool-quotient of new books of poetry by Eileen Myles, Matthew Rohrer, and Christian Hawkey.

Two from Tarpaulin Sky Press

March 1, 2007
onelove

Elisa Gabbert examines two genre-expanding books of poetry by Jenny Boully and Max Winter.