Book Reviews

Reviewed by:
Beth Gilstrap
Last year was a tumultuous year for poetry. Two giants published articles lamenting poetry’s demise. Contemporary poets scratched their heads, banging out fiery responses. Yes, the literary world can be insular, particularly for poets, but it is staid only to those who willfully turn their attention to tired arguments of dying forms. One need only look to poets like John Gosslee and his recent... more
Reviewed by:
Brent House
As a child growing up in South Mississippi, I was given the chore of plucking the fascicles of pine needles that had fallen into the zigzag of the chain-link fence surrounding our family home; so, on a Saturday morning after a week of late-summer storms, I would carry a small metal bucket to the edge of our yard, I would pluck the needles fallen from forest to the wire, and, before I placed the... more
Reviewed by:
Karen An-hwei Lee
Under the editorial vision of Jeffrey Yang at New Directions, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s newest collection in seven years, Hello, the Roses, dazzles with her signature margin-to-margin lines on the physics of light, phenomenological structures of consciousness, botany, and human physiology. As her readerly fans would expect, a Berssenbrugge rose is strikingly radiant in a phenomenological,... more
Reviewed by:
Rachel Arndt
The narcissism began to seep: through Teju Cole’s narrator, into my paperback-clutching hands, on an airplane from Chicago to New York. It was my first time back in New York since I’d left, six months ago, after living there for a little more than three years. The city demands approximation: about a half a year ago; more than three years; an airplane, suspended over someplace in between two other... more
Reviewed by:
Erik Martiny
As prevalent as it has been in popular culture since Babylonian times, the zodiac has inspired but a dearth of recent visual art, and even fewer texts. Lord Byron is one of the few notable poets who paid it any attention at all. The vast bulk of alluringly story-bolstered mainstream myths is probably the reason why so few writers have turned to the wheel of the zodiac as a wellspring of poetry.... more

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Reviewed by:
Erika Jo Brown
Let us, for a moment, judge a book by its cover. The title of Jennifer Karmin’s debut poetry collection, aaaaaaaaaaalice, stretches across the span of the book in hollow, clean, orange typeface. Several blue keywords wrap around laterally. The front cover, mostly white space, is modestly embellished with three inky bunnies in the bottommost corner. The astute typography and layout design reflect the accomplishments of the book, which... more
Reviewed by:
Tim Wood
Not invent—just answer—all That verse attempts. That we can somehow add each to each other? —George Oppen, “Blood from the Stone”May 28, 2011 is the anniversary of Leslie Scalapino’s passing. Last summer, I read Lyn Hejinian’s eulogy “Leslie Scalapino Remembered” and, with many, mourned the loss of an original and radical poet. In her eulogy, Hejinian talks about Scalapino’s deep connection to Buddhism and their collaborative work; together,... more
Reviewed by:
Tod Marshall
“A book of poems is a damn serious affair,” says Wallace Stevens. If so, a book of one hundred seventy-seven pages is mighty serious. That’s the length of Richard Kenney’s newest book, a sprawling yet coherent collection in which he harmonizes serious chords with playful notes to make a metrically brilliant, tonally various, emotionally resonant, sometimes scathing, sometimes silly book that impresses as much with its technical virtuosity as... more
Reviewed by:
Matt Miller
“What need for purists when the demotic is built to last, To outlast us, and no dialect hears us?"—John Ashbery, “Purists Will Object”Perhaps it would have been too obvious, too neat of a summary or gloss, but a part of me wishes Mark Tursi had introduced his book, The Impossible Picnic, with John Ashbery’s epigrammatic closing couplet from his 1984 poem “Purists Will Object.” It would have been instructive, perhaps too pointedly so for... more

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