The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"One of Yeats’s stranger ideas to come from the 1890s and the beginning of his immersion in the rituals and beliefs of the Order of the Golden Dawn was his wish -- influenced by Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s symbolist play Axël -- to establish a Castle of Heroes on a lake isle in Lough Key, County Roscommon, a lake that would, a half-century later become a very real part of John McGahern’s world when he moved to live with his father in Cootehall, Co Roscommon after the death of his mother." Frank Shovlin Irish Times
"There’s something shocking and very rebellious about the simple act in those final lines of consuming things that haven’t been regulated by bureaucracy and vetted by the state. This wild disengagement from politics and finance and the nanny-state occurs in quite a few of Pandemonium’s poems." Simon Haworth The Manchester Review
"He was always a good hater and would have been a skilled practitioner of the medieval Scots tradition of poetic flyting – the trading of literary insults – but he was good at friendship too. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was the centre of a circle of poets, writers and critics who met regularly in the pubs and howfs of Edinburgh’s Rose Street. Milne’s Bar was a favourite venue and the smoke-filled corner where they regularly gathered became known as Little Kremlin. The group was more than a tight literary milieu, a Bloomsbury of the north, with whisky and incidental bagpipe music; it was the core of what would become known as the modern Scottish renaissance, kindling a cultural confidence that inspired the revived independence movement." Annalena McAfee • Guardian
"He mines the poetry in his library – poetry whose aesthetic, as in the case of Rilke or Seferis, seems far removed from his own syncretic collage composition – for thematic material. And in responding to this process, Jacobus inevitably engages in what is traditional source study. She assesses with great acumen what Twombly’s aims were, and shows brilliantly how he combines the various poetic motifs in his painting. But the question remains, to paraphrase Clark, whether the inclusion of handwritten copies of specific poetic passages does anything to the normal art-ness of picture space. Since, for that matter, the poetic material is almost invisible – we have to take the critic’s word for its presence as well as for the further citations with which she often enhances her material – how much does its existence actually affect the space, structure, and scale of a given painting?" Marjorie Perloff • TLS
"Thomas McCarthy’s style does not just apply historical insights and visions to familiar landscapes; his is a style that does not easily declare itself, cautiously feeling its way along the currents it describes, and occasionally editing in details that give away the vulnerability and safety the poems seem to desire in the world: “Like us, the tide is seeking a cove / Where it doesn’t need to be obliging,” begins Become Water, a poem that seems almost utopian in comparison with the book’s other scenes." John McAuliffe • Irish Times
"Long ago I spent some years in the East, and I recall that in a certain establishment in a back street in Singapore a motto used to hang over the bar: ‘As a martini demands gin, so British verse requires Tom Raworth.’" John Tranter • Jacket "Raworth is very much in favour of jam (as reward, as improv) today: if there is one element that is at stake in all his work, it is that of speed. His is a quicksilver mind, one that announces very early, ‘i made this pact, intelligence/shall not replace intuition’ (‘Wedding Day’), and that revels in brushing aside any tendency to ponder." Jonathan Catherall • The Literateur "In the later poems, the most daily of routines are seen to have a political unconscious. The occasion for ‘Lippitude’ (the noun literally means soreness of the eyes, but it also implies having a lot of lip), is probably the familiar eye-chart test." Marjorie Perloff • PN Review
"I began writing at 17 in what was chronologically my second language, having arrived in England at the age of eight as a Hungarian refugee with no English. I cannot tell precisely what inner resources I brought with me at that age, but I was not a clean slate. That slate had already been written on by my family history, my parents, my city, my street and the events of my then short life. I was, like everyone else, a palimpsest." George Szirtes • Guardian
"Weirdly I think that one of the reasons why I like Dear Boy so much (and the selections of Berry’s work in this collection, which we can get on to) is that I find her poems so difficult and confusing. Not difficult and confusing in the way I find a lot of poetry though, where I might just read it once and forget about it, or move on to the next poem like huh (which I probably do too often), instead there are some poems in that book, and in this selection, that I feel like I’m now a bit obsessed with." Lucy Burns and Callum Coles • The Manchester Review
"Nothing is natural in the work of Rae Armantrout. Our words, gestures, and relationships are conventional, scripted, deformed — or outright produced — by, as she has it, “the interventions of capitalism into consciousness.” On the subject of “nature,” I notice plenty of  leaves, and leaf-shadows, and leaf-reflections (in both senses of the word) in her poems — but her plants are urban, compromised, possibly parodying of Keats." Vidyan Ravinthiran • Poetry
"The violent relationship between Ashbery’s poem and the great number of real-life rivers it lists shocked me. I was amused by the satire of the travel writer’s weirdly unpicturable observations. But that couldn’t fully explain the poem’s power. This poetry’s relationship with the world was different from that of more familiar poems, which generally tried to describe the world by describing it. In Ashbery’s poem, the tension between the descriptions of the rivers, and what I knew about the rivers, produced a third thing, flickering between experience and imagination." Caleb Klaces on Ben Lerner • Poetry London
"In an unpublished review of Sylvia Plath’s Letters Home, Bishop wrote: “Of course one can’t really ‘review’ letters, or criticise them – at least, not perhaps the way a play, a novel, or poetry can be reviewed or criticised”. The scholarly contributors to Letter Writing Among Poets argue that letters merit as much critical attention as texts in other genres, and that poets’ letters reward particular scrutiny." Nancy Campbell • TLS
"As G.K. Chesterton’s hero Father Brown put it in one story: Where does a wise man hide a pebble? On a beach; and where does a wise man hide a corpse? On a battlefield. Many pebbles, it is believed, have been hidden on this particular beach. And you can imagine the variety of pretexts there would be for revenge—old insults, rivalries, a sense of injured merit, matters of love and sex." James Fenton • NYRB
"Take, for example, the word Ginsterlicht, from the poem “Matière de Bretagne” (Michael Hamburger translates it as “Gorselight”): it seems to refer to light traveling through the twigs of the genista plant, and all the translators whose work is examined in this volume use “lumière de genet” or “lumière du genet” (p. 269). However, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre underlines the importance of landscape to this poem, and Dueck herself explores the associations between the genista plant and the location of Saarbrücken on the German-French border, where Neue Bremm, the Nazi torture camp, was located, in 1943-1944. Bremm issues from Old High German, and signifies “thorn.”" Ottilie Mulzet • Asymptote
"Inside History may not quite achieve new readings, but it registers the need for something to change in the reception of Boland’s work. That might entail distinguishing between what her poems say about themselves and what they are doing linguistically and formally. It might also entail reading against the grain of Boland’s manifestos. To what extent has she challenged “founding ideologies”? Virginia Woolf said that a woman has no country. Boland’s poems constantly mention “my country”, the “nation”." Edna Longley Irish Times
"Jeffrey Wainwright’s work is among the most interesting of any poet now writing. Although he has an admiring readership, he has stayed under the radar much of the time, pursuing a line of poetic inquiry that links him to writers as various as Geoffrey Hill, Roy Fisher, Tony Harrison and even Charles Tomlinson (who like Wainwright was from the Potteries) – all of them in various ways historian-poets." Sean O'Brien Guardian
"In Salamanca, as the nationalists crowed in victory, Unamuno faced down the cries of General José Millán Astray, ‘death to intelligence! Long live death!’ Unamuno is reputed to have replied, ‘this is the temple of intelligence, and I am its high priest. You are profaning its sacred domain. You will win, but you will not convince (vencéreis, pero no convencéreis).’" Karl O'Hanlon • Eborakon
"In the matter of poetry and politics, I used to keep saying that poetry has to be political and take the public world seriously. I still think that, but I now think too that it is more gracious to see art, poetry, literature, all those things, as having their own value and what Seamus Heaney called ‘jurisdiction’." Bernard O'Donoghue • Faber
"Helping to keep his hand in, the influence of the daily rhythms of correspondence on the real writing, when it came, should not be underestimated. Beckett was also surprisingly relaxed about sharing that writing with correspondents. A letter to Jérôme Lindon launches without preamble into an extract from a work in progress, while many letters break into poetry (his “doggerelizings” of Chamfort, and the Mirlitonnades), not to mention an Irish variation on an obscene Kurt Vonnegut limerick (“There was on old man from Kilcool, / Who soliloquised thus to his tool . . .”)." David Wheatley TLS
"And this is where Polley’s collection achieves so much. The poems take images in nature, or moments of a day, or the cycle of a wing beat and make us experience them like we are right there inside each one." Joe Carrick-Varty • Manchester Review
"Over coffee in a Cork city hotel, O’Donoghue says he has always felt like a bit of an exile in the UK. “Not an unwelcome exile, but that has all been shaken up by Brexit. It has changed how people feel about the world and how outsiders feel about England.”" Colette Sheridan • Irish Examiner
"The poems work fine without knowledge of the literary pedigree of such lines. However, for anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with the Irish literary and song tradition they are an added enjoyment, giving depth and resonance to the poems." Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill • Irish Times
"But he has brought something to birth for all of us, by that grace he celebrated, something inescapably ethical in a way given to few poets of our age. Here we are to try and echo both the turning of things about in words and the renunciation he spelled out for us." Rowan Williams on Geoffrey Hill • PN Review
"Yeats’s example in The Green Helmet seems to have provided Hill with a way of drawing out the tooth of satire that Ibsen buried into the elaborate and legendary flesh of his Romantic picaresque. Yeats’s irregular heptameter in the 1910 play, likely a fusion of Chapman’s Homer and elements of William Morris, is the beginning of his famous enterprising ‘nakedness’, what Ezra Pound described as the end to ‘glamourlets and mists and fogs’ and the entry into his work of ‘hard light’." Karl O'Hanlon • The Literateur
"To describe Stevie Smith’s voice as unmistakable is to imply, perhaps uncharitably, that she did not much evolve from her first collection of poems in 1937 (A Good Time Was Had by All) to her last book released posthumously in 1972 (Scorpion and Other Poems). Nor is the charge wholly inaccurate." Florian Gargaillo • Chicago Review
"Starting in their early twenties, however, their favorite pastime was whipping off songs. Modiano could produce complete lyrics as fast as he could jot them down, and Courson composed the melodies almost as quickly. They rarely spent half an hour before arriving at a finished product. How, I asked, did he and Modiano work? Did they discuss ideas, or did Modiano present him with a text? It could be either, Courson said, but it was mostly a matter of turning a poem into a song. “Patrick has no sense of music. I wouldn’t rewrite his lyrics, out of respect for his idea, but sometimes I’d add or trim a few words to create a rhyme or a beat.”" Peter de Jonge • Harpers
"Yet in the half-century since the British critic Al Alvarez championed, then eulogized, “the new poetry” — the confessionals — the idealism sustaining poetry as a vocation has been upstaged by melodrama. One might well wonder if there is a correlation. Biographies of poets now tend to serve a purpose much like the conductor who came staggering through my halted subway car on the morning of September 11, 2001: “People are dead, folks. Go home and hug your children.” Did you think you would write beautiful, immortal verses? “People are dead, folks.” Did you think literature was a higher calling that would bestow meaning on existence? “Go home and hug your children.” Perhaps you might merely become famous, well-off, and get laid a lot?" Ange Mlinko • Poetry
"Brodsky’s relationship with the Empire was significantly more complex and multifaceted than dictated by the iconic Russian formula of the Poet and Power. In Brodsky’s case, this meant using the word to overcome the word. It was the overriding of communal words, catchphrases which had been depreciated and prostituted, by words that were personal, metabolic, and cryptic. Brodsky’s individual style seemed externally to accept the imperial, totalitarian format, and his verse is quite traditional in form, but he bursts it open from the inside." Hamid Ismailov, tr, Shelley Fairweather-Vega • Critical Flame
"A poem that works as a conceptualisation of the ‘mystic writing pad’, that performs the same tasks of text framed and text erased is more of interest and activist relevance. I want to start working more with the mechanisms of ‘memory’. Freud writes in ‘A Note upon the ‘Mystic Writing Pad’ (1925 – I think it’s the Strachey translation: check): ‘The sheet is filled with writing, there is no room on it for any more notes, and I find myself obliged to bring another sheet into use, that has not been written on. Moreover, the advantage of this procedure, the fact that it provides a ‘permanent trace,’ may lose its value for me if after a time the note ceases to interest me and I no longer want to ‘retain it in my memory.’ I will not give this text the pleasure of the future of data, of the screen, of personal computing. Too many lies and exploitations of ‘nature’ and people in that (those mines, those mines … those previous metals … the destruction of entire eco-systems so we can have depth behind our screens, can call up memory as data, can hypertext our way into alternative truths, alternative geographies and ecologies …)." John Kinsella • Cordite
"No wedding rings, barely suppressed giggles during the mayor’s speech, no photos. We go have lunch at La Bûcherie, one of our meeting places, next to the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, and there—surrealistic “objective chance”—we find Aragon in private conversation with Elsa Triolet. After he praised me to the skies for my first book, I saw Aragon several times, or rather I attended his interminable emphatic readings of his poems at his house." Philippe Sollers, tr. Armine Kotin Mortimer • Critical Flame
"“Once you’re in, you’re in forever,” says Kevin Young in a recent 
issue of Harvard Magazine (the quote excerpted from Young’s nonfiction book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness). He is speaking of the deservingly famous Dark Room Collective, of which I have been here and there listed as an early member. What the article in Harvard Magazine doesn’t mention — nor does any other piece I’ve read on the Dark Room — is how I was ousted from the group roughly six months after having been asked to join. I wasn’t officially kicked out; I’d say it was more that I was informed that I wasn’t welcome, and — this is a little fuzzier to pin down, but I felt it — the reason had to do with my not really being in step with the group’s agenda." Carl Phillips • Poetry
"His memory was prodigious – for poems, for horses, for what people such as his friends Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien had done and said. It might be easy to say that he was the last of a generation, but it never felt like that in his company." Colm Toibin on Anthony Cronin • Irish Times "Louis MacNeice may well have been a shadow in the background there, and Cronin is certainly an inheritor of Patrick Kavanagh’s quantum leap into democratic vistas, but it is England which was to be Cronin’s lodestar." Michael O'Loughlin • Irish Times "In a literature full of drivel and special pleading Cronin's intelligence and skepticism shine through with heartening clarity. He has always written as if he lived in a beseiged city, like the Camus of Combat." Thomas McCarthy • Poetry Ireland Review (1989)
"27 February. Good piece in this morning’s Guardian, a discussion between Will Self and Stewart Lee in which the latter describes the hostile reaction he sometimes has to face from audiences. At one point, ‘a guy got really angry. He said it wasn’t the audience’s fault they didn’t get what I was doing and I should be better at my job. I thought there was going to be a fight, as he came down to the stage and was hanging about in a menacing way. I had to come out of character and say: “Look, this is a construct.”’ This is true in all sorts of (less menacing) situations to do with writing. There are plenty of Larkin poems, for instance, in which the poet could add the same footnote: ‘Look, this is a construct (and I’m not as celibate as I pretend or maybe even as racist).’" Alan Bennett Diary • LRB
"This November, I found myself exchanging emails with some of our American contributors about final corrections in the days immediately following the election. My first impulse was to apologise: how trivial proofs and poems seem at such times! But then I began to realise how poems – like the ones in these pages – will be among our most necessary acts of resilience and resistance in the years to come." Sarah Howe • The Poetry Review
"Not in my wildest literary dreams would I have imagined my favorite Spanish poet ever, Francisco de Quevedo, playing a tennis match. Less so with another “monster” of the arts in the Baroque and convulse times of Europe in the seventeenth century. The author of this amazing novel is Álvaro Enrigue, who dared to set Sudden Death (Riverhead) as a tennis match in which the ball is made with hair from Anna Bolena’s fallen head, taking the reader through a historical tapestry of the Spanish Empire and the consequences for the people of the new world, among many other subjects." Cristóbal Pera • Words Without Borders
"The frame says: look at this, this is important, it means something. The problem, though, is that (as avant garde artists discovered in the early 20th century), you can put anything in a frame – a used tissue, for example – and it will suddenly seem significant. The frame is not to be trusted. As Groarke puts it so nicely in the poem that precedes the essay, “every promise ever made/ was framed in a yellow frame”." Fintan O'Toole on Vona Groarke • Irish Times
"The ring-road takes us back to the Zen-like highways of Rita Angus’s late Hawkes Bay paintings, or to the abstract, circular motifs in Ralph Hotere’s great black paintings—works in which a simple circle becomes simultaneously a sun/moon, an infinity symbol and a cell containing all life, the Eucharist of Catholic tradition or the motif at the centre of Zen Buddism, as outlined by the monk Shoichi." Gregory O'Brien • Journal of New Zealand Studies
"The time is right, O’Brien suggests, to rethink some basic assumptions about relationships between commercial entities and the rest of society. Perhaps contemporary novelists, playwrights and poets can help us in that task." David Throsby • TLS
"Outrage is not dead—it is everywhere. We take to social media, tagging our agitations, live tweeting our disbelief. Afflicted, we are affected—and we have an outlet, constantly up to date and updating. Does it feel like freedom? Does it feel like action? Does it feel like the actual? Of what use are we in these times? How do we live our lives so that we are not unwittingly enabling the very structures and conditions we protest loudly against? What do these times demand from us as writers and artists?" Editors • High Chair
"A high point in our friendship came when we organised, long before poetry readings became commonplace, a reading by the three of us in the ballroom of the Royal Hibernian Hotel in Dawson Street on February 3rd, 1961. We had an audience of 300, of which half came free, including Austin Clarke, with an invitation from the Dolmen Press; and the other half paid at the door. Our reading was chaired by Peadar O’Donnell; Paddy Kavanagh came to the ballroom door, declared his presence with loud resonant coughs, and refused to enter." Richard Murphy • The Irish Times
"The vast array of lyrical attention he lavished on his native place and of love, bawdy and sacred, he lavished in his poems, make his a distinctive poetic voice in Ireland, irreverent, blunt at times, always elegant and with considerable elan." Damian Smyth • Belfast Telegraph
"We’re not supposed to believe that language can let the world through." Jason Guriel • Slate
"Born in 1842, during the reign of “Citizen King” Louis Philippe, Mallarmé came from a bourgeois family with royalist sympathies, which negatively influenced their reputation so that, in contrast to many of his later artistic circle, the poet lived modestly throughout his life and survived by toiling for decades as an English teacher in two lycées. His performance in this role was so poor that, a school inspector noted, 14 of Mallarmé’s students, all pooling their knowledge, could not translate the sentence “Give me some bread and water.”" Ellen Handler Spitz • The New Statesman
"Richard Brautigan, the great hippy writer, envisaged a “cybernetic meadow” in which “mammals and computers live together in mutually programmed harmony”. It sounds to me an awful lot like our own current state of storytelling, without, of course, the need for anyone to read poetry, which is the form within which Brautigan did his visualising, and we received his rather optimistic vision." Will Self Guardian
"But [Larkin] didn’t envy Conquest’s sources of income: “Reviewing is rather difficult, I find. I don’t think I’d like to do what you’re doing – it takes me far too long to find the words, and when I do they’re pretty soapy ones, not at all good. Still, it impresses colleagues”, he wrote. The letters also reveal the camaraderie among some of the Movement poets – especially Larkin, Conquest and Kingsley Amis, as is well known, but also between Conquest and two others, Thom Gunn and Donald Davie, who preceded him in moving to faraway California." Cynthia Haven TLS
"Throughout Float there are melodies and reprisals, ideas revised, revisited, and flipped. It’s a sophisticated piece of mental music, though that doesn’t mean every repetition and echo was forethought. Carson’s admitted to using a random integer generator in her work and embracing accidental formatting changes, explaining “it saves you a lot of worry.” She practices intentional unintentionality." Charlotte Shane New Republic
"In a very fundamental way, Ó Ríordáin represents the victory of compulsory Irish – it is compulsory to read him if you really want to know anything about Ireland and the world in which we live." Pol O Muiri Irish Times
"One of Bloom’s most annoying traits as a literary critic has been his abiding assumption that whatever an author may think he has written, Bloom knows better." Eric Ormsby New Criterion
"I knew Levis a little at Iowa, forty years ago. Stocky, a heavy smoker with wide-set eyes, he had a more than passing resemblance to Ernie Kovacs. His sad-sack manner belied a sardonic, dark intelligence—he moved in chiaroscuro with slothlike deliberation." William Logan New Criterion
"But the workshop poem is merely the aesthetic/cultural side of the financial/political annexation of the public." Tyrone Williams Lana Turner
"Art itself, including by implication, poetry, becomes a kind of ‘naming’ or ‘possession-ing’, a re-visioning of things. To delineate and describe is to ‘make known something.’" Ken Evans on Tom French Manchester Review
"The critic Kenneth Tynan had a sign on his desk that read: “Be light, stinging, insolent, and melancholy.” These seem to be Mr. Muldoon’s rules as well." Dwight Garner NYT "Few poets can write history into the margins of their work without being overwhelmed by it. In this book’s short lyrics and astonishing long poems, Muldoon manages." John McAuliffe Irish Times
"On the page, British Surrealism feels less committed than its European antecedents. It’s more jokey, for a start, and diluted. In the poems and drawings gathered in Thirteenth Stroke, Andre Breton’s highly sexed muses have mostly been banished and replaced with something closer to a vaudeville show or puppet theatre. (To many present-day readers this will come as a relief rather than a disappointment.)" Gregory O'Brien PN Review
"There is also a willingness to admit that much about Blake’s work remains perplexing and irreducible to simple interpretation. “Trying to Understand the Long Poems” is a disarmingly honest section heading, while some chapters end not with conclusions but with strings of further questions." James Ward DRB
"From the art criticism of Walter Pater to the reviews by Eileen Myles, the particular tenets of taste—works reclaimed, schools or movements endorsed, new authors celebrated—finally matter less than the critic’s attitude, or what was once called “sensibility.” With criticism, it’s best to reverse D.H. Lawrence’s famous motto: Trust the teller, not the tale." Nicholas Dames The Nation
"Brodsky was another Osya, or Iosef, or Joseph, who like the original Joseph of Genesis was tossed into a pit by his brethren, and just as Joseph did in Egypt, he finally won recognition outside of his native Canaan, outside his own land. " Hamid Ismailov • The Critical Flame
"Leonard Cohen was the poet laureate of the lack, the psalmist of the privation, who made imperfection gorgeous." Leon Wieseltier NYT "Leonard belonged to a rare category of writer insofar as his collected songs and his poems were indivisible. I have no hesitation in saying he was one of the great poets of the era." Paul Muldoon Guardian
"Poetry is not useful, and it is in every culture. Not only is it not endangered, it will outlast any number of species of living things on the face of the earth. It will only perish with our own. I worry about journalism. I don’t worry about Poetry." A.E. Stallings • TLS

"Bunting’s response was to re-tailor his life in accordance with the maxim he had adopted for poetry, “Dichten=condensare”. He bought a six-ton sailing boat and spent a year “harpooning congers and netting herring” off the south coast of England in a kind of maritime reprise of the life evoked in “Chomei at Toyama”; then hawked his seafaring skills around New York and Los Angeles before enlisting in the RAF at the outbreak of the Second World War." Mark Hutchinson• TLS

"Eurydice’s elegant dismissal of Orpheus mirrors H.D.’s dismissal of Orpheus as the mythopoetic icon." Dean Rader • Ploughshares
"The majority of the contemporary poetry industry, insofar as it has a business model, is based on extracting money from writers, not giving it to them. Every year, I have to work harder to make a comparable living." Clare Pollard Poetry Spotlight
"If prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it." Anne Carson Observer
"Excessive talkativity is the condition that threatens all of Kennard’s writing, a pressure that he copes with by naming, embracing the problem." Dai George Poetry London "On reaching Book III [of Luke Kennard's Cain] I felt like I’d come out of a cinema into the brightness of a sunny afternoon and was struggling to see clearly. " Katherine Stansfield Magma
"On into his thirties, whenever Larkin had to take a train somewhere, he’d carry little notes of his own to hand to the ticket agent: a bad stammer would flare at the first shyness, and he couldn’t always count on being able to relay his destination. Then there was the poor eyesight marring his student days, which also kept him from military service. Is it idle to read Larkin’s turn to photography, of all pursuits, in light of these facts? Perhaps one of the early attractions of the camera, which he picked up in his youth (and we have this to thank for an endearingly comic picture of his father Sydney looking through a lens of his own at the eleven-year-old portraitist), was the way it allowed him to escape from the first difficulty and transcend the second." Tomas Unger Threepenny Review
"In 1995, Jon Stallworthy’s biography of the poet Louis MacNeice appeared to generally favourable reviews. It was recognised as an urbane, courteous study of a poet who had never quite escaped a reputation for playing second fiddle to WH Auden. For this reader, however, it did not manage to grasp how turbulent had been the life from which the poet’s marvellous poems had sprung." Terence Brown DRB
"The shadow of ballad or hymn meter haunts Riley’s fragmented parts, as does the spirit of song itself, which for all its elegiac purposes can never not be a sign of vitality. In an interview with the Web publication The Shearsman Review, Riley remarked of her career: “The only constant is a commitment to the thing that is song. This is in some way linked to the persistence of hope. Then as I get older this whole business of ‘song’ only becomes still more mysterious. It is a plain bright mystery.” Song is in dialogue with the “say” of Say Something Back, enacted between loftier rhyming stanzas and colloquial blank verse. Rhymes and rhythms assert themselves, then falter. It’s stop and go, this resumption of life after death." Ange Mlinko The Nation
"“His gift or genius is in his connection to the music of the spheres,” [Bob] Dylan went on. “In the song ‘Sisters of Mercy,’ for instance, the verses are four elemental lines which change and move at predictable intervals . . . but the tune is anything but predictable. The song just comes in and states a fact. And after that anything can happen and it does, and Leonard allows it to happen." David Remnick New Yorker
"Like NourbeSe Philip’s overlapping global perspectives, her book as a whole has the structure of a Venn diagram. Insofar as the title is an eponym of the last poem in the book, both title and poem frame the collection, giving it a circular shape from beginning to end." Tyrone Williams • Chicago Review
"So we have in this small book a complete picture of a human condition brought about by (but perhaps not unique to) a form of bereavement, elegantly and appealingly written, leaving us in no doubt as to its reality and terms of manifestation — you’d think that were enough. But it isn’t, because there is also the poetry, ‘A Part Song’." Peter Riley • Fortnightly Review of Books
"The Ireland Chair of Poetry, where a poet of national distinction is appointed for three years to a roving professorship, is one of those absolutely daft good things that the powers that be in Irish life come up with now and again." Thomas McCarthy • Dublin Review of Books
"But it does not take special pleading to say that this book is much more than an archaeology of British poetry and Roy Fisher’s contribution to it. The widespread admiration for Fisher’s writing is undoubtedly because, for over sixty years, Fisher has given his readers an exploration of the world which is not only deeply recognisable, but constantly different and effortlessly enthralling." Ian Pople Manchester Review
"“I don’t believe in narrative [songs] anymore, life’s not like that. Fractured narrative, time compressed, events stuck on events, or distressing logic is much more real”. Dismissing the prophetic nature of his lyrics, he admits that the anxiety and dread they have always featured can seem as if they foretell “certain events”." Nick Cave TLS
"If Moore’s borrowings allow for the characterization of her as a modern collage artist, a devil-may-care dialogic experimenter, Elizabeth Bishop had quite a different view. Helping Moore with her translations of La Fontaine, she comes to a sadly astonished awareness of her mentor’s difference from other people, linked to her inability to hear or write verse in conventional ways. It seems that Moore “was possessed of a unique, involuntary sense of rhythm, therefore of meter”; what else would one expect, given that “she looked like no one else” and “talked like no one else,” and that “her poems showed a mind not much like anyone else’s”?" Vidyan Ravinthiran Poetry
"Writing in English in Asia means writing from the edge, Wong explained: it’s a peripheral vantage that often leaves you gazing across to the UK or US for a wider readership. But he also recounted the writerly pleasure of occupying such an edge – now less a margin than a blade – to create poems postcolonial and queer and triumphantly hard-to-pin-down." Sarah Howe The Poetry Review
"Claude Péloquin was the bad boy of French-Canadian poetry, known for his stage antics and first published at the age of 19." Pierre-Mathieu Fortin • Red Bull Music Academy
"When, in ‘Another Part of the Wood’ (with a glance, this time, at As You Like It), Wright does ‘take issue’ with Davie, he does so as the editor of a string of influential anthologies, including The Faber Book of Twentieth-Century Verse (with Heath-Stubbs) and the classic Penguin, The Mid-Century: English Poetry 1940–60, and of two significant magazines, Nimbus (1951–58), with Tristram Hull and others, and X: A Quarterly Review (1959–62), with Swift. Despite his impatience with the way in which, in the mid-1970s, ‘the Arts Council and the universities were beginning to rig trampolines for the daring young men on the flying trochees’, Wright speaks with authority as a respected poet and curator of contemporary poetry; not as an outsider, a maverick or sniper, but as an equal, on equal terms." James Keery PN Review
"We all sat and listened, and the long eighteenth century windows were wide open to the horse chestnut trees in the Mirabelle Palace Gardens behind us, and there was simply nothing to say. He was the Real Thing. (Later, he would buy me a strudel in a pastry shop and I would discover he had absolutely nothing to say, either, once he put the violin down. But that’s another story.)" Fiona Sampson Agenda
"There is little glory for Irish-language writers. Yet we have a young poet like Séamas Barra Ó Súilleabháin, who will read poems from his début collection Beatha Dhónaill Dhuibh at this year’s IMRAM, fusing them with sonic effects from Czech sound sculptor Slavek Kwi. He is compelled to write in Irish because his voice and his thoughts are in Irish, not English." Liam Carson Irish Times
"Only when I counted did I realise that the book has nearly as many women as men speaking memorably and musically of the great human subjects: love, loss, wonder." William Sieghart • Guardian
"I’m not sure how many people in the academy had much idea of how very good the poetry was, and is. [Jay Macpherson] was the person that major American poets used to ask me about when I ran into them, people like the late Anthony Hecht or Mark Strand, Pulitzer-Prize winners both. A recent British editor called her one of the great poets of the twentieth century, and compared her with Stevie Smith, but her emotional range is far wider than Smith’s." Eleanor Cook • Brick Books
"But there are bad biographies that tell you nothing about their subject’s breakfast preferences, and The Whole Harmonium is one such. Stevens is one of those apparently fortunate, self-standing poets who are not greatly involved with the styles or personalities of their time, whose work sets no puzzles and makes a sufficiently vivid impression all by itself." Michael Hofmann • LRB
"It can seem, to those of us who teach poetry writing, that the only way to sell young poets on metrical effects is by contagion." Anthony Madrid • The Paris Review
"As a poet—he has written three books of poems, as well as two novels—Lerner is sensitive to the odd psychological transactions that tend to take place between poets and non-poets. The latter often regard the former with a blend of contempt and envy. The contempt is easy enough to understand—poetry is unprestigious, unremunerative, a form of play rather than grown-up work. But it is the envy that Lerner focuses on, the way people who don’t write poetry nevertheless feel the urge to stake a claim to it." Adam Kirsch • The Atlantic
"Like scientists and mathematicians, professional poets are entirely trained and largely employed within the university system, producing work primarily for each other while a very small contingent of outside enthusiasts looks on." Frank Guan • The Point
"In every generation there is a handful of poets who challenge the way we think about language and how it is used." John Yau • The Hyperallergic
"After a death, those remaining form a new order, their relation to each other forever changed. Indeed, it is by sensing that alteration that we realize greatness has passed—like the perturbations in the orbit of Uranus that marked the presence of an unknown planet." William Logan • The New Criterion
The Page is taking a break. JMcA, Sept 5, 16

"Poetry is like an old clock that stops ticking from time to time and needs to be violently shaken to get it running again, and if that doesn’t do the trick, opened up and disassembled, its wheels cleaned, lubricated, and its intricate moving parts made to run again. Unlike watchmakers, poets repair their poems by leaving parts behind that after centuries of use have turned out to be unnecessary to their workings. Hard as it is to believe, lyric poets are still tinkering with a contraption thousands of years old, mending it and reinventing it with no desire to call it quits. As they do that, poetry keeps changing while remaining the same." Charles Simic on Jana Prikryl NYRB
"In Stephen Dunn’s introduction to the volume, he writes that Cummings was “the Holden Caulfield of American poetry.” That’s partly right. Cummings’s two great interests were sex and sex—at least in the first part of his life." Micah Mattix • The Washington Free Beacon
"And if she got to know that he was giving a lecture somewhere in London she would stand outside the hall holding a placard that read, as I’ve always (and wrongly) remembered it: ‘This is the wife he abandoned.’ Sadly, but no doubt accurately, the various biographies substitute ‘I am’ for ‘This is’." Mary-Kay Wilmers LRB
"This phrase is but one example of her highly individual wrapping up of her poems in a final terse or laconic and intriguing statement of actual fact, which at the same time is almost more aware than the reader or writer can afford to deal with. It is a form of sabotage or inversion—I am telling you something but not quite the truth as it was. As ever with Ní Chuilleanáin’s vast intellectual compass, she makes valid connections between various different registers of language, her task being to hunt down somehow the meaning of a forgotten word that is well-nigh irrecoverable." Medbh McGuckian Breac
"On the back cover of This Big Face I wrote that the poems were ‘going for some kind of clarity.’ That’s certainly changed. Now I think life is mostly a great big shambles and I’m happy to go along with that. The earlier poems seem quite neat, as in tidily put together, whereas I think the recent poems have an unruly element to them." Jenny Bornholdt VUP
"Drawing likenesses together, setting things at odds, offering new unending sets of variations. These things kind of matter a lot." Sam Buchan-Watts on Matthew Welton Prac Crit
"Her example is a poetics of constant revision, movement, and the considerable courage it takes to maintain, even in times of necessary anger, the wonder that should make an artist intrepid." Karen Solie Brick
"My friend laughed. “You know your problem?” she said. “You thought that philosophy would be Truth and poetry would be Beauty.”" Ken Chen • New Republic
"The ‘confrontation with false universality’ that [Ben] Lerner uncovers as a way of understanding Rankine’s work is critical; though he only mentions it in passing, he in fact redefines poetry as a possibility for expressing political and other social conditions of those who create the art. But the idea isn’t new, of course." Nyla Matuk • The Literateur
"Sitting in the same classroom where Lowell had once curled over his desk, riffing on Milton before a group which then included Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and George Starbuck, it was now Derek delivering mesmerizing monlogues on Robert Graves’ The White Goddess, Auden, Braithwaite, Akhmatova, and Lorca to an intimate circle, which regularly accomodated visitors like Gertrude Schnackenberg, Rosanna Warren, and a shy bookstore clerk with a stentorian voice named Sven Birkerts. But the star of the class, clearly, was a young, sizzle-eyed poet named Melissa Green, with her frenzied hair and her impassioned staccato panegyrics on Horace’s Odes delivered, sometimes, apropos of nothing but the poet’s love of Horace." Askold Melnyczuk • Drunken Boat
"Reading The Beauty reminds me that Hirshfield spent eight years as a full-time Zen student, three of them in monastic silence. Speaking with Ilya Kaminsky and Katherine Towler, she refers to this time as “the diamond at the center of [her] life.””" Laura Donnelly • Kenyon Review

"Then, in the summer of 1964, Bunting received a phone call from the Newcastle poet Tom Pickard, who turned up at his house an hour later. “A boy of 18, long-haired and fairly ragged, with a fist full of manuscripts,” Bunting later recounted to Dorothy Pound. “He said: I heard you were the greatest living poet.”" Christopher Spaide • New Yorker
"So, at the end of the episode, Dwight is giving this monologue of the perfect crime, and I was just really struck by the rhythm and syntax of his monologue. Something about it struck me, so I transcribed it, and I did a sort of negative translation of that speech, and then I worked with that to produce this poem." Camille Rankine • Divedapper



New poems

Penelope Shuttle The Manchester Review

Sean Hewitt New Statesman

Daisy Fried Scoundrel Time

Carl Phillips The Manchester Review

Bill Manhire Manchester Review

Tom Raworth Poetry

Emily Berry Poetry

Rachael Allen Poetry London

Sharon Olds The Nation

Maureen N McLane Fatboy Review

Sarah J Sloat Sixth Finch

Joey Connolly Blackbox Manifold

Jacob Polley Guardian

David Wheatley PN Review

Mary Ruefle Poetry

Liz Berry Ambit

Miles Burrows The London Magazine

Simon Armitage New Statesman

Carl Phillips Poetry

Jane Yeh Poems in Which

Hugo Williams The Poetry Review

Penelope Shuttle The Poetry Review

Jenny Bornholdt The Red Room

John Montague Poetry International

Lawrence Raab B O D Y

Dean Young Threepenny Review

Janet Rogerson The Literateur

Rebecca Watts Guardian

Claudia Rankine Boston Review

Lisa Kelly PN Review

Derek Mahon Gallery

Les Murray PN Review

Dorothea Lasky The White Review

Daisy Fried Poetry

Rachel Boast The Compass

Thylias Moss Boston Review

Kiki Petrosino PEN America

Tom French The Honest Ulsterman

Frank Ormsby Poetry Ireland Review

Shane Neilson Canadian Notes & Queries

Nyla Matuk New Yorker

Vahni Capildeo Guardian

Chad Campbell The Puritan

Ross White Greensboro Review

A.E. Stallings The Atlantic

Monica Youn The Paris Review

JT Welsch The Literateur

Jenny Bornholdt The Spinoff

Justin Quinn New Yorker

Terrance Hayes Prairie Schooner

Sam Riviere Blackbox Manifold

Matthew Welton Prac Crit

Michael Longley Southword

Denise Riley Guardian

Lynne Hjelmgaard Guardian

James Richardson New Yorker

Monica Youn Paris Review



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The Page is edited by John McAuliffe, Vincenz Serrano and, since September 2013, Evan Jones at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester. It was founded in October 2004 by Andrew Johnston, who edited it until October 2009.
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