Leslie Williams is a fine poet, skillful and smart. She takes a range of topics I find by themselves repelling or uninteresting (suburban life, nature, flowers, gardening, Thomas Jefferson, the American South, etc.) and makes them compelling; she demands my attention because she is such an attentive writer.
The result of Lippman’s perpetual contentiousness is a collection that is confrontational in the best sense of the word, interrogating the reader, himself, and America pretty much as a whole about child-rearing, over-medication, racism, consumerism and whatever else you’ve got.
Through rigorous consideration, with patient generosity, Valerio Magrelli’s poetry allows all his subjects—broken machines, utterances, each of us—to be our own streets, and in such a transfixing world, a circle closes around Kant: things can be both means to an end and ends in and of themselves.
Many poems, and many more lines, couplets and quatrains in Opal Sunset are superb, making their lesser companions wan imitations of what Clive James can really do when his interior editor and his varied gifts unite.
In No Surrender, Ai successfully blends personal autobiographical poems with her trademark dramatic monologues, making for a truly original text—a kind of personified hybridity—that is both haunting and humorous
Reading, and re-reading these poems, you’ll find lines which are so outrageous, hilarious, and true that they get lodged in your head, like songs; and, you’ll find yourself quoting the poems to others, because they seem so apt in their ungainliness.
Maxine Kumin’s poems about the specifics of life on the farm with family, and relationships to fish, fowl, horse and vegetable matter, not to mention lovely liquids and unappealing solids, are consistently satisfying and sometimes deliciously entertaining.
The poems in This Noisy Egg are always engaging and hold the reader’s attention, but they do not feel un-tethered or dangerous. Reading them, I had the sensation that there was little room for what Stanley Kunitz called “wilderness,” the part of the poem that appears to write itself, unhinged from the fantasies and illusions of the Writer.
In individual poems, small series of interconnected poems, and in the book as object, Mairéad Byrne has made in The Best Of (What’s Left Of) Heaven a map that covers every kind of topographical feature.
In Knock Knock, Hartley has accomplished a humor hat-trick, netting jokes a) in poetry, b) while evoking multiple cultures and c) in multiple languages. Hartley’s comedy is in the absurdity of the details, whether sensory or linguistic.
Organized into five “acts,” Slaves to Do These Things is, ostensibly, theatrical in terms of its development—though the dramatic action isn’t always quite clear. That’s alright. Mystery plays are rare at present.
Cyborgia is wildly imaginative and the poems don’t take themselves too seriously. Even when these women are being constructed or destroyed, the book isn’t particularly angry or even political. It instead feels rather gleeful.
The voice that animates The French Exit is smart and philosophically dexterous, capable of showing the self to be a fetish-object of its own and also a refractive subject of Lacanian devotion, as a mirror which doesn’t so much distort as endless “reveal,” like the panopticon eye of a camera.
James Longenbach’s fourth book of poems, The Iron Key, feels like it has itself arrived from a different era. It oozes nostalgia for the many charms of Venice, the complexities of Greek myths, and the ethereal pleasures of opera and poetry that is, paradoxically, both old-fashioned and refreshing.
Lina ramona Vitkauskas asks, and her collection stands as an intrepid answer, the question as to why haute couture, avant-garde and post avant-garde cinema, Derrida, and marine life should be at odds, offering her reader startling juxtapositions vis a vis an unmistakable voice that sounds out as often as it retracts in the act of listening.
Each conceit, each stanza, each line in Lovely, Raspberry sparkles with such wonderful ambiguity of thought that is, paradoxically, a type of clarity; through Belz’s absurdism, aspects of the human condition are illumined in unique, resonant fashion.
Kuipers is a “traditional poet” with respect to her unwavering focus on craft; the engine powering her verse is tight word choice that simultaneously conjures up tangible, living objects and powerful emotional resonance.