Book Reviews

Reviewed by:
Michael Magras
If you’re familiar with the lyrics of Jimmy Cliff’s 1972 reggae classic “The Harder They Come,” then you won’t be surprised to learn that T.C. Boyle’s new novel of the same name includes protagonists who, like the tune’s singer, would “rather be a free man in my grave / than living as a puppet or a slave.” And if you’ve ever seen the film The Harder They Come, in which the song appears,... more
Reviewed by:
Mary Buchinger
How does one begin to review an anthology of a century of poetry by over a hundred Armenian poets? Perhaps first by considering the translator—the one who selects the particular poems for translation from the pool of possibilities—which, in this case, is especially vast and deep given the richness of the Armenian poetry tradition. In a recent interview with Artsvi Bakhchinyan of the Armenian... more
Reviewed by:
Kristina Marie Darling
Helene Cardona's beautifully crafted collection, Dreaming My Animal Selves, drifts in and out of languages, presenting poems in both English and French translations. By doing so, the book raises several compelling questions about the relationship between language and human consciousness: Does language, with its complex grammatical rules, limit what is possible within conscious experience... more
Reviewed by:
Sarah Viren
When I saw Lacy Johnson read from her new memoir, she came right out with it. “No one says what this book is about,” she said. Then she told us.The Other Side (Tin House Books, 2014) is about the day that Lacy’s ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and took her to a soundproof room he had built for the sole purpose of raping and killing her. He raped her and then left briefly to create an alibi... more
Reviewed by:
Karen An-hwei Lee
The latest collection by Brenda Hillman, an exploration of living phenomena and their mysteries, ignites a fiery post-lyric grammar of existence. Hillman’s devotion to social justice—her unwavering belief in poetry’s capacity to address root causes of our political strife—ultimately purifies our fallen world in the languages of elemental fire.Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire is... more

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Reviewed by:
Nick Ripatrazone
Instructions for Killing the Jackal might not actually be a manual for killing Canis aureus, but it could be a guidebook for poets hoping to write with originality and confidence. The author of a previous chapbook, Silt (Dancing Girl Press 2009), and the poetry editor for Guernica, Erica Wright’s first full-length collection is clever and sleek, a swift read with sufficient gravity. The book is a paradox, and... more
Reviewed by:
Christopher Prewitt
When one reads Eklund’s poetry, one draws comparisons to Péret with his figurative, associative language, especially as it pertains to Eklund’s metaphors, which at times can also bring to mind García Lorca. From the poem “Burning Milk”:We’d yet to see a whole city burnOnly waiting for what would leakFrom the big eggs of our ideas,From the palm of a broken handNailed to the sky.What sets Eklund’s latest full-length Each Breath I Cannot Hold... more
Reviewed by:
Ruth Williams
Though Jeongrye Choi is the author of four books of poetry in her native South Korea, her work has been largely unavailable to American audiences; however, with Instances, a translation of Choi’s selected poems by Brenda Hillman, Wayne De Fremery, and Jeongrye Choi herself, English readers now have the opportunity to encounter one of South Korea’s most intriguing women poets.In a prefatory note to the collection, Brenda Hillman quotes... more
Reviewed by:
Michael Martin Shea
Water Puppets, Quan Barry’s third full-length collection and winner of the 2010 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, is anything but puppetry, striking a forceful blow against the idea of poetry as naïve navel-gazing. It takes as its motivating question, “What does poetry have to do with the real world?” and throws an emphatic response, as Barry builds a narrative at once personal and political, reflecting on her own past as an immigrant from... more
Reviewed by:
Chris Martin
You may come to this book looking for a stance on Beauty. You may come to it looking for more Snoop Dogg references. You may come looking for a catalog of Mark Leidner’s Twitter feed. In each of these cases you will arrive misguided, but by the time you realize it you will be halfway through this immanently readable book and a couple of express stops past your intended subway exit. In adopting the serial aphorism for his debut collection of... more

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