Book Reviews

Reviewed by:
Mitch Nakaue
“When but a child, I learned that our ancestors came out of the trees, stood upright on the savannahs, and became human.” So begins John Leland’s essay collection Readings in Wood. A nature writer, Leland makes his home in the southern Appalachian mountains of Rockbridge County, Virginia, a region known for its wilderness and as a repository of American history dating back to the... more
Reviewed by:
Peter LaBerge
“Standing at the water’s edge, I watch myself / loosen into a brief, exquisite blur.” Though we begin our journey through Richie Hofmann’s stunning debut poetry collection Second Empire with the freedom to move and self-express, it is a destination of sorts for Hofmann himself. The collection functions as a deeply personal glimpse into the immediate and long-term effects of the tension... more
Reviewed by:
John Tamplin
Geoffrey O'Brien's poems are full of things vanishing. The first three poems in his new book, In a Mist, appear to be elegies for vanished people. "For S." concludes:A wisp is too harsh.At mere hint of sightall parts of youdrop into the glare.  "A Yard at Daybreak" ends:The shop is shutteredand the yard so quietyou can hear the noiseof shadows vanishing.The poems offer faint images in... more
Reviewed by:
Adam Day
One of the most engaging poems in Mark Bibbins’s smart and enjoyable third book of poetry, They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full, is “Pat Robertson Transubstantiation Engine No.1,” the first of a series of six such poems, and which opens with these lines: “First I was fellating an African despot / for his diamonds, next I was paying / a hooker to... more
Reviewed by:
Zach Savich
Broc Rossell’s debut book of poetry, Festival, starts with an Oppenesque pronouncement that could be read as an ars poetica: It becomes necessary to liveIn waysWhich if impossibleAre predicated on that definitionAnd therefore openThe same way I open to what’sNested in the white treeThese lines offer an opening in several senses. There’s Rossell’s refreshingly measured phrasing; in... more

Pages

Reviewed by:
Julie Marie Wade
Denise Duhamel is one of my favorite poets and one of the most captivating, comforting, challenging writers I have ever read.  But because she is “established” in the genre and I am only “emerging,” I realized with some chagrin as I was reading Blowout, her newest and best poetry collection to date, that I will never have a chance to blurb one of Duhamel’s books.  We are poets of two generations. I belong to the one that comes after—and... more
Reviewed by:
Rebecca Morgan Frank
The opening section of Tanya Larkin’s debut collection, My Scarlet Ways, selected by judge Denise Duhamel for the 2011 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, sweeps us into the world of girls, but these are timeless, hell-raising girls with a kick and bite. The second poem could be read as an ars poetica of sorts: “Sisters, don’t let sisters / ride the chandelier. It’s just a Turkish tea set / with a drunken seductive chime / like the... more
Reviewed by:
Virginia Konchan
The landscape of Rusty Morrison's newest poetry collection, After Urgency, is one rid not only of music but the hope of its return.From “Verdancies of repetition”:Struck again and again, destiny might never chime.Toss consonants against the vowels for luck of true correspondence.Rhyme-fellows remain distinct even at a distance, like two wings frame the jay’s flight.Harbor the hidden accentual in the beautiful repose after vowelling.... more
Reviewed by:
Micah Bateman
“... And Lord the sound of their wings / is the sound of the leaves...”—Shane McCrae, from “Crows,” Mule THE WAY THINGS WORKis by admitting or opening away. This is the simplest form of current [...] The way things work is by solution, resistance lessened or increased and taken advantage of. The way things work is that finally we believe they are there, common and able to illustrate themselves. Wheel, kinetic flow, rising and falling... more
Reviewed by:
Rebecca van Laer
If you’ve read the back of a poetry book recently, you’ve probably learned that many contemporary poets are “reimagining the possibilities of lyric poetry,” “challenging the conventional boundaries of poetic form,” or otherwise transgressing and subverting the supposedly rigid limits of the lyric poem. This sort of rhetoric has been applied to prose poetry, to narrative poetry, and to professedly political poetry. The language of subversion has... more

Pages