Book Reviews

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
Reviewed by:
Claudia Cortese
A child gives her doll a spirit, a personality, a story. She constructs a narrative for her doll, filling an inanimate object with life. This imaginative process is one we often associate with girlhood. A constellation of images orbits the word “doll”: wooden dollhouses and porcelain girls in lace dresses and dolls that pee and dolls that cry and dolls that girls push in strollers. However, dolls... more
Reviewed by:
Caitlin Keefe Moran
In “Shifting Shadows,” one of the many standout essays in Julian Hoffman’s slim The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World, Hoffman explains the subtitle of his collection succinctly: “To be at home means finding a way of sustaining a keen and watchful engagement as both the place and I change, altering and shifting with the seasons, the light, and passing time.”... more
Reviewed by:
Chris Pusateri
I often think that I would rather be a painter, but I am not. Among those poets working today, Jane Lewty is one who possesses qualities usually ascribed to visual artists. Her debut volume of poetry, Bravura Cool, imports the movements of the gestural into a textual space, and in doing so, reinvents the age-old dictum that there can be “no ideas but in things.”The things of Lewty’s... 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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