The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"TS Eliot could be severe, but he was not nasty in those years, as later he sometimes became. In a letter to Desmond MacCarthy of October 8th, 1930, he adjudicated between DH Lawrence and Aldous Huxley: “Lawrence was a man who could say the same thing over and over without once becoming boring, whereas a feeling of tedium began to creep over me after one or two Huxley books.”" Denis Donoghue • Irish Times
"All of which means that, although of an earlier generation, the poet who most comes to mind when encountering Tonks is David Gascoyne. The comparison appears at first sight instructive: their best work written by their late thirties, a powerful sense of their own destinies as poets and of dissatisfaction with the flawed world which greeted them, descent into mental instability and then silence. But the contrast is equally illuminating; whereas Gascoyne’s voice matured from the Surrealist excesses of his youth into the most serious examination of man’s relationship to God and mortality – as in the sequence “Miserere” and the metaphysical poems – Tonks remains frozen at an early stage where the work has not yet settled. As with other poets, though not all, who stop writing young, she does not often get beyond an anger and an attitudinizing which are essentially adolescent." Hilary Davies • TLS
"Longley is fond of recalling a description, apparently Tennyson’s, of the lyric as an S-shaped structure, and this poem exemplifies such a balance of swerve and symmetry." Tiffany Atkinson on Gluck and Longley • Poetry Review
"This book, too, has received high praise. From its title, with its clear genuflection to Elizabeth Bishop, we might assume that Mehigan’s poetic temperament was a kind of opposite to Glück’s. And that is, mostly, true. Mehigan is a master of the small, closely formed lyric, although this book contains two longer narratives, ‘The Orange Bottle’ and the title poem. Mehigan is also a skilled formalist, but not, perhaps, the costive post-Hechtian classicism of the recent New-Formalism of Timothy Steele and Dana Gioia." Ian Pople on Mehigan and Gluck • Manchester Review
"The image of early Heaney as a pastoral ingenu is woefully in need of updating." David Wheatley • Guardian "Many feel that poetry is nothing more than an effete gesture of right-mindedness, or a mere entertainment, like some intellectual puzzle or game of literary trivia. Heaney’s work showed that they could not be more mistaken." John Burnside • New Statesman "Effortlessly, Seamus Heaney gives us ‘The song of the tubular steel gate in the dark/As he pulls it to.’ As Bloom says in Ulysses, ‘Everything speaks in its own way. Sllt.’ Sllt is the noise made by a paper-slitting machine. Heaney’s genius is an amalgam of moral complexity and the simple make-over of reality to his readers. He can describe things. He can describe things in a phrase, spray them with fixative." Craig Raine • Spectator
"Most of us in the profession were content to have our say on Pound and move on. I offered my pennyworth to say that the enabling motive of Pound’s Cantos is a line in Canto LIV, “History is a school book for princes”. Each of the Cantos displays an example, a parable, a moral lesson, an anecdote, the kind of thing a good governor should think about." Denis Donoghue • Irish Times
"Memo to James: The best poems generally manage to be about two or more things at once." Daisy Fried • NYT
"Poetry is much more about remaking or realigning the past than it is about charting the contemporary scene. It’s a long game." Michael Hofmann • The Paris Review
"The sustained quality of the poems across them, and the formidably compact Collected that emerges, directly echoes the achievement of the ur-canonical poet of our time, Elizabeth Bishop. The Bishop comparison holds in other ways too, notably in how formalism co-exists quite comfortably with the customarily relaxed idiom of the poems. [Michael] Donaghy can work in whatever form he likes: seemingly, none of them come amiss; at the same time, he does not appear to have had one that he particularly favours." Michael Hinds • DRB
" O’Callaghan should be more readily regarded as a champion of this critical mission: an example for the Trinity/Dublin-based writers promoted through Metre. Wheatley and Quinn, in particular, acknowledge O'Callaghan's role, and it is fair to say that without his intelligent questioning of Irish poetic practice, the road would not have been so well-prepared for the likes of Alan Gillis, Leontia Flynn, Miriam Gamble, Eoghan Walls, Matt Kirkham and the rest, who are finding their own ways to reinvigorate the art." Paul Maddern • Poetry International
"What is missing in Enniss’s book is an emphasis on Mahon’s artfulness and inventiveness, the clarity of tone which has been so influential on subsequent generations of Irish and British poets, and how he has created new places where, as his most famous poem puts it, “a thought might grow”." John McAuliffe • Irish Times
"Jeremy Noel-Tod, the editor of the new book, is polite about Ian Hamilton, but it is soon apparent that Noel-Tod is hospitable to almost anything one might call ‘alternative’: what he calls in his introduction ‘avant-garde poetics’. New entries sometimes read as if some gleeful parodist had got to work on Noel-Tod’s proofs, inventing unlikely poets and their works." Anthony Thwaite The Dark Horse
"Mehigan has a quiet command of form and an intelligence never quite tapped by his designs—it’s like watching a Chevy V8 dragging a horse cart." William Logan • The New Criterion
"The poems seem considered and less self-expressive and possibly even unintentionally aiming for an actual reader-other-than-friends." Pam Brown • ka mate ka ora
"Oddly enough, though, reviews can alert you to practices in your work that you weren’t aware of." Anne Compton • Malahat Review
"I turn to poetry to help me to think, to feel, to perceive." Jim Ferris • Poetry
""I find them evenly lit," he once said in reference to his poems' apparent darkness." Mark Strand • BBC
"Ap Gwilym, who called himself a second Taliesin, may well have had the earlier poet’s ode, which I’m translating now, in mind as he wrote his own hymn to the havoc that art can work in the world. This poem shows ap Gwilym’s muse tumbling, at the pace of his words, through the world." Gwyneth Lewis • Poetry
"As a poetic theory, Frost’s ‘sound of sense’, the idea of breaking irregular speech cadence over a regular line of verse, is original, as Frost was well aware. Only the sentimental chauvinist would try to give [Edward] Thomas priority. We aren’t dealing with Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. But Thomas’s champions routinely overstate their case." Craig Raine • Areté
"I remember one of the first, if not the first poem, I wrote. I was in school and it was an assignment– we had to write a Thanksgiving poem. Third or fourth grade. Mine got put on a bulletin board with large yellow and orange leaves cut out of construction paper, I remember those leaves as well as I remember the poem." Mary Ruefle • Wave Composition
"It was nearly half a century after his death before the authoritative Collecteds of Yeats began to appear. For Heaney, pending a Collected, these books are an eminently satisfying interim measure." Bernard O' Donoghue • Irish Times
"The world’s laws—of temporality, of gravity, of identity—are not so steadfast or “hard” as we may assume; in Seamus Heaney’s words, whatever is given can always be reimagined. Conor O’Callaghan takes this dictum to heart. We catch ourselves wondering if his reality is simply more interesting than ours and feel eager to experience this superabundance of sounds, sights, events, emotions, among which the poet lives." Magdalena Kay • World Literature Today
"And when I think about poems, a hole appears in the winter lake’s ice." Dorothea Grünzweig, tr Derk Wynand • Malahat Review
"The distance between the young Irish poet composing ‘Liffeytown’ and ‘The Liffey beyond Islandbridge’ and the poet of A Woman Without a Country is instructive. Her stable yet evolving example is useful to poets and readers; stage by stage she writes her way into a resistant tradition she values." Michael Schmidt on Eavan Boland • PN Review
"One of its finest qualities is Djwa’s evident awareness that her Life of P.K. Page is partly a fiction — or, to put it differently, one of many possible narratives that could be told from the facts of Page’s life. Rather than disguising this, Djwa embraces her role as storyteller — as her allegorical analogies make plain." Tina Northrup • Antigonish Review
"Newer generations of Irish writers, those reared in a private, ironic world (so private that they are outraged by the free gift of a U2 album) could never understand the massive optimism contained within [Theo] Dorgan’s unbroken sense of community. Such a belief in political community is, in a very real sense, an affront to the modern." Thomas McCarthy • Irish Examiner
"Poems of witness and protest are being written, and they are being published, and they can be extraordinarily powerful. If they seem more difficult to find than they might have been at a moment in the past, it isn’t because they don’t exist. It’s because they’re part of a much larger cultural machine in this country founded on freedoms of speech. In such context, it doesn’t seem to me that poetry has suddenly stopped mattering. It’s that a whole lot of other modes of expression matter too." Jaswinder Bolina • Poetry
"Against the horrors and brutalities of the world are set the virtues of family and friendship. [Peter] Fallon’s friend Seamus Heaney was fond of quoting from a Shakespeare sonnet: “How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea / Whose action is no stronger than a flower?”; it is a plea that is raised throughout this book." Bernard O'Donoghue • Irish Times
"But there is another kind of poetry: the poetry of that which is at hand—the immediate present. In the immediate present there is no perfection, no consummation, nothing finished. The strands are all flying, quivering, intermingling into the web, the waters are shaking the moon. There is no round, consummate moon on the face of running water, nor on the face of the unfinished tide. There are no gems of the living plasm. The living plasm vibrates unspeakably, it inhales the future, it exhales the past, it is the quick of both, and yet it is neither." DH Lawrence • Lapham's Quarterly
"‘Night Shift’ is a direct (and sceptical) allusion to a famous verse by Gu Cheng (roughly: ‘The dark nights gave me my dark eyes; I nonetheless use them to look for light’). Gu Cheng had all the time in the world, and frittered it away. He killed his wife with an axe, then hanged himself. Xu had very little time and few choices." Sheng Yun • LRB
"Shakespeare was a powerful writer who in his lifetime was poised at exactly the right moment to take advantage of the medium that the English language had only recently become. He could reach for effects that had been unavailable to the poets of both “The Seafarer” and The Canterbury Tales, and because of the particular power with which he did so, poems we think of as great, poems that harness the full capacity of the medium, tend to sound to us Shakespearean. But what we are really hearing in such poems is the medium at work; what we are hearing is the effort of a particular writer to reach for the effects that Modern English most vigorously enables. The polyglot diction of a phrase like John Ashbery’s “traditional surprise banquet of braised goat” feels idiosyncratic because it is also conventional, empowered by its author’s intimacy with his medium." James Longenbach • Poetry
“Here was a poet who made your hair stand on end,” she said. “Such independence; he caters to no school, he caters to no literary fashion. He writes about the quotidian but lifts it into the metaphysical all the time; yet he is also completely grounded.” Moya Cannon on Francis Harvey • Irish Times
"Seidel's hyperbole and excess are amplifications of the literal. Or, more precisely, they are a way of saying, with Theodor Adorno, "The barbaric is the literal." For Seidel, then, hyperbole is a means of confronting the world on its own terms, of constructing an affective vocabulary adequate to the world's barbarism. It is also therefore a means of producing personality in a specific relationship to shame." Michael Robbins • Post Road Magazine
"These are anthems to a wild, sensual “disobedience”, in which ruler and ruled, colonizer and colonized, oppressor and oppressed are both called upon to participate in a conscious unmaking, so that a new freedom can be born." Arundhathi Subramaniam on new Indian poetry • Poetry International
"Although critics acknowledge the English and European influences on Ó Ríordáin, he is all too often placed neatly in the “Gaelic” box as one of “triúr mór” (along with Máirtín Ó Direáin and Mhac an tSaoi), who paved the way, mar dhea, for later, cooler poets." Róisín Ní Ghairbhí • Irish Times
"He may have come in for flak for inhabiting a poetic persona – street-smart, self-deprecating, no-nonsense – so fully and at times lazily that he has come to parody himself, but this selected poems proves that he has written some of the very best, most memorable poems of recent decades." Ben Wilkinson • Guardian
"[M]ost modern poets would love to be noticed if they disappeared." Thea Lenarduzzi • New Republic
"Though he has eloquent advocates, not everyone will see the appeal of Gurney’s poems, as distinct from the terrible and compelling story of his life and descent into madness." Sean O'Brien • TLS
"A Jew in the Soviet Union, a Catholic among atheists, a Ukrainian among Kazakhs, and writing poetry in Russian: such was [Regina] Derieva’s situation." Cynthia Haven • TLS
"When Art’s army arrives, it immediately enacts a regime of Anachronism. With and/or logic, it insists both on a dream interval and a fatal interval: this is not going to stop until you wake up so give up. Art performs both massive and trivial transformations—the dead are reanimated (a massive change), while a series of lyric, decorative images are daisy chained to each other with a twist of Art’s, or syntax’s, hand: pájaros become nenas como flores." Joyelle McSweeney • Lana Turner
"Seaton argues that we can best understand the history of literary criticism in terms of three traditions: the platonic, the neoplatonic, and the humanist. Seaton’s platonists—who are often not platonist in a philosophical sense—regard literature, as Plato did, as dangerous and deceitful. Poetry, fiction, and drama reinforce the prejudices of the unenlightened masses or, as we would say today, of the bourgeoisie." Gary Saul Morson • New Criterion
"The displacement caused by a change of social class, from the child of a shipyard worker to a leader of the Irish intellectual elite, as well as the great disruption caused by broken adult relationships, combine powerfully in the best work of Derek Mahon to create a poetry as magnificent as a sheet of Belfast steel and as painful as the Blues." Thomas McCarthy • Irish Examiner
"[David] Lehman is less interested in excellent poems, which can only be consumed one at a time, than an idea, “poetry,” which he sets in opposition to the brutal zeitgeist." Jason Guriel • The New Republic
"The career of Gottfried Benn is a case study in disgrace." Adam Thirlwell • New Republic
"Shearsman are helping to create a mini critical industry on Roy Fisher, and it is greatly to be welcomed." Martin Casely • Stride
"For instance, I did a reading with Mark Strand in Frank Stella’s studio that was introduced by James Wright, who spoke glowingly of our work, but had our names confused, it turned out." Charles Simic • NYRB
""Heap" is a wondrous curriculum vitae that I know draws upon the poet's own life (though I have no idea exactly to what extent) where pretty much every job listed has involved heaps of something: torn-up boxes, grass clippings, old coffee grounds, heaps of twigs and sticks, bundled newspapers, palettes of lemon meringue pies, "abandoned mud huts fallen into a heap" ….. the list of jobs and heaps goes on for two pages and never flags. Which is what Paul Violi did: never flag in his energy, his desire to be open and to learn, to share, and enjoy, no matter how dire some of the stuff life throws at you might be." Martin Stannard • Stride
"Traditional music or postmodernism, there is a breadth of subject-matter and style on show throughout this generous anthology, offering many signs that Irish poetry can still play the true air and maintain a trajectory of emotion and sensibility." Matt Campbell • Breac
"Uncertainty and the interrogation of normative thinking are important to John Kinsella, because they seem to counter the logical positivism and scientific materialism underpinning capitalism and the state’s violence, as well as the reductive effect of language as a system through which we relate to a far more complex world. (Irigaray’s ‘To speak is never neutral’ is quoted.)" Helen Moore • The Wolf (pdf)
""The Natural and Social Sciences" originally appeared in Donaghy’s first collection, Shibboleth, in 1988. Its triad of Irish jokes targets their teller, the poet of double identity, as well as the English reader reassured by stereotype. A London-based American poet born of Irish parents, Donaghy was ideally placed for such a three-way satire." Carol Rumens • Guardian
"If Bishop claims in ‘One Art’ that ‘the art of losing isn’t hard to master’ then Shaughnessy’s ‘Artless’ seems a direct refutation of this mode of processing loss. Bishop exercises her structural repetitions as a way of increasing conviction; Shaughnessy’s repetitions are stasis. Both, really, are evasion." Aime Williams • Prac Crit
"[W]whether you respond to this book may depend on how you feel about the back cover statement that she considers the phrase “too accessible” to be “the best sort of compliment”." AB Jackson • Poetry Review (pdf)
"I presumed that in their eighties and nineties all these poets would feel a sense of clarity and wisdom about their lives and careers, but this wasn’t always the case." Chard de Niord • Harvard Review
"Joshua Mehigan’s Accepting the Disaster is the rare new book of poetry that is entirely alive, entirely aloft. No allowances have to be made for these darkly lucid, sad, and humane poems; they are the thing itself." Adam Kirsch • New Republic
"We resort to cliché because it’s easier than trying to make up something new. Implicit in it is the question, Don’t we already know what we think about this? Don’t we have a formula we use for this? Can’t I just send a standard greeting card or paste in a snapshot of what it was like rather than trying to come up with an original drawing?" Anne Carson • A Public Space
"Izenberg poses against this traditional picture of lyric a less personally expressive poetry of pure “attentiveness” and of “the greatest possible opening of the self ”—to other people and to contingencies that are simply experienced sequentially and registered paratactically." Richard Eldridge • Chicago Review (pdf)
"The apparent subject of a painting is depicted off-centre, or leaving a large more or less blank space. An example is the thirteenth century painting of a wagtail on a withered lotus leaf. As in the case of the text in the Kōtō-in, the reverberations of unfilled space are vast. Poetry provides many examples of this and of the concentration on the actual." Padraig Murphy • DRB
"Jorge Luis Borges was modest about his achievements as a poet. In his Obra poética, 1923–1964 he quoted these lines from Robert Louis Stevenson: “I do not set up to be a poet. Only an all-round literary man: a man who talks, not one who sings . . .”" Michael Caines on Alastair Reid's Borges • TLS
"Zurita (2011), an almost 750-page volume, unfolds from the evening of September 10 to the morning of September 11, 1973, and includes excerpts from the poet’s other books, for example: three pages of the electroencephalogram (EEG) embedded with text that closes Purgatorio, a few photographs of the New York City skywriting that appeared in Anteparaíso, and a middle section (starting on page 358 of Zurita) from his 1985 book Canto a Su Amor Desaparecido, translated in 2010 by Daniel Borzutzky as Song for His Disappeared Love." Magdalena Edwards • The Millions
"Where the poems of Ms. Rich, who died in 2012, landed like bombs flung from the barricades, those of Ms. Kizer felt more like a stiletto slipped between the ribs." New York Times
"The title Seven New Generation African Poets immediately raises the question of how similar these poets are and what characteristics identify them as African. One of the exciting discoveries is that these poets exhibit a strikingly wide range of aesthetics and styles. All are accomplished writers whose work ranges from straightforward narrative to experimental." Mike Puican • TriQuarterly
"We set poets in opposition and claim exclusivity by adopting polemical positions most of which are largely external to the poetry, whether the poets themselves subscribe to them or not." Peter Riley • Fortnightly Review
"I wonder if there’s a literary term for the device used of ‘wryly and jocularly referring to London mayoralty screw-ups’ – perhaps pathetic fallacity? – but also how many other politicians have put their machinations to one side to put quivering pen to paper and spill their feelings out in rhyme." Anoosh Chakelian • New Statesman
"This means we can read Patrick Pearse’s erotic poems and Roger Casement’s diaries of his sexual exploits not as aberrations but as essential to their revolutionary spirit as they sought to liberate themselves from traditional ideas of sexuality." Colm Toibin • New Statesman
"Other forms of orientation have more valency than nationalism for me. I’ve never felt any deep attachment to a country, a town, a landscape; never written in that grounded, territorial sort of way. The books most important to me over the last few years have been by Elizabeth Bishop, George Seferis, and Ange Mlinko, poets whose relationships with British poetic traditions are helpfully indirect." Frances Leviston • Poetry
"They represent a turning away from the unsettled atmosphere of Paris and in their lives and work there is a sense of creating a space aside from a lot of the harsher and more public events in the world, of being free to pursue personal and landscape meditations in peace. This is not to say that the poetry is placid or complacent, but the violence and anguish it reaches come from within, or if from the world indirectly, mediated by immediate individual perception, and the vocabulary rarely extends far beyond landscape, art, and general ponderings." Peter Riley • Fortnightly Review

"Having achieved the pinnacle of an academic career, poised for a state appointment, Herbert takes holy orders and serves the rest of his short life in country parishes. Why? Donne’s energy and sexuality and ambition are more understandable. But one of the things Drury makes clear is that Herbert’s first love was poetry, and taking the humble position of country pastor gave him the exclusive time he sought for his own writing." Mark Jarman • Hudson Review
"The editors of The Dublin Notebook manage to enrich and finesse the known facts by detailed analysis of primary source material, principally, of course, the entries in the poet’s notebook." Sean Sheehan on Hopkins • DRB
"Critic Matthew Sitman has recently called Christian Wiman the “most important Christian writer in America.” [Michael] Robbins, then, might be the most provocative Christian writer in America." Nick Ripatrazone • The Millions
"One of the collections is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, which is the sort of stamp of approval most poets would gnaw a finger off for." Todd Swift introduces British/English poetry • Poetry
"“Internet speak” can be an exciting new kind of poetic form: in Conor O’Callaghan’s brilliant new collection, The Sun King, he writes a series of tiny poems, each as long as a tweet, and it’s like a new kind of Japanese haiku in his hands." Sinead Morrissey • Independent
"These two overlapping threads—personal and collective exile—have been leitmotifs throughout the last several hundred years of Arabic literature. But in the last century, they have moved from the periphery to the center of literary discussion." M Lynx Qualey • Words Without Borders
"Batchelor begins and ends his book with Tennyson’s encounters with Queen Victoria. He was first presented to her in 1851, after being appointed Poet Laureate. Tennyson wore a borrowed suit—the same one lent to Wordsworth when he was appointed Laureate in 1843. It was a bit small for Tennyson’s huge frame, but he was reportedly delighted with “the appearance of his magnificent legs in black silk stockings.”" Carol T Christ • Hudson Review
"Reexamining the literary and autobiographical record in that archive reveals important new historical information about the cultures and literary movements of the Hispanic world that [Langston] Hughes visited." Evelyn Scaramella • Massachusetts Review (pdf)
"So it would seem that, after Keats's death, the Stansted chapel gradually came to look more like his description of it than it did when he actually saw it. Of course a poet needs only a spark of fact to light a trail of imagery. It is not surprising that he could make so much of so little. What is perhaps surprising is that three-dimensional reality, architecture, glass, and decoration should have imitated his vision to the point where his description assumes something of the quality of prediction." Rosemary Hill • Essays in Criticism
"The best poems remind you that a poem is a made object, not just an act of self-expression. They read as exploratory, not simply as an account of pre-formed ideas or feelings." Michael Symmons Roberts • Poetry London
"In his recent book, Cinepoetry: Imaginary cinemas in modern French poetry (2013), Christophe WallRomana singles out “New York in Flashlight” as the foundational statement of Cendrars’s futurist aesthetics. For a poet still struggling to fight free from his post-romantic subjectivity, the shock therapy of film would allow him to shed all metaphysics, all abstractions in order to emerge as an objective medium for the Orphic expression of the optical unconscious of the modern world – Rimbaud and Whitman updated for the century of cinema." Richard Sieburth • TLS
"Robert Gray’s imagery is the first thing a reader notices. Individual, surprising, evocative – his images have more in common with Amy Lowell’s imagism than with the hard objectivism of Ezra Pound. Like Gray, Lowell wrote versions of Japanese poems and her interest in what she called polyphonic prose probably lies somewhere behind Gray’s prose poems, such as ‘In the Bus’ and ‘Damp Evening’." Lisa Gorton • Sydney Review of Books
"Older writers tend to be provident with their material, Godwin says, comparing their tendency to a baker’s practice: “The old writer wants to use up his fatal tissue like biscuit dough, pushing the leftovers into another and another artful shape—down to the last strange little animal,” implying frugality can stoke creativity." Rosemary Booth • Critical Flame
"As versions go, The Architect’s Dream of Winter is a confident upgrade of Billy Ramsell’s promising first collection, Complicated Pleasures; and it bodes well for those to come." Alex Runchman • The Stinging Fly
"Not every award-winning poet has played minor hurling for his county." Michael Moynihan talks to Ciaran Carson • Irish Examiner
"As happens now when someone famous dies, the internet fills with stories of the champagne and ice cream type. But the memorial aspect of such anecdotes can too easily cover the work. The danger of encomiums is that against their intention they can entomb the very achievement they celebrate." Michael Helm on Mavis Gallant • Brick
"It is possible, as library closures continue across the UK, despite the occasional spectacular exception as in Birmingham and Manchester, to lose sight, in the battle for basic provision, of the principles which underlie that provision, and the radical challenges that the free flow of information can, for good or ill, give rise to." Michael Schmidt • PN Review
"“What a fantastic list”, said McMillan, who was joined on the judging panel by the poets Caroline Bird, Robert Crawford, Pollard and Paul Farley. “We are going through a really fantastic period for poetry and these writers show the confidence poetry has at the moment. It is everywhere – in festivals, open mic nights, on the internet.”" Ian McMillan • Guardian "Once a decade, the Poetry Book Society announces a list of Next Generation Poets, the ones who they think will "dominate the poetry landscape of the coming decade". Today they released the full roster for 2014. It's an unusual remit. And "dominate the landscape" is an odd turn of phrase, which makes the list sound like a series of dark satanic mills planned for Shropshire." Charlotte Runcie • Telegraph
"Is it literary criticism wearing poetry’s clothes, poetry dipping its toes into academic discourse, a hybrid form, or something else entirely? Unkind critics have accused her of co-opting parts of either to conceal her weaknesses in both, but [Anne] Carson appears to be operating, as usual, in a space where boundaries and expectation mean little." Jennifer Thorp • Oxonian Review
"What does this selection tell us about Scottishness? Not a lot: that’s not the point of it, though W.N. Herbert’s ‘Rabbie, Rabbie, Burning Bright’ is certainly a reminder, even when comically distorted for our own times, of that common culture." David Robinson Scottish Poetry Library
"There is obviously a lively imagination at work here. But [Liz] Berry does not simply make things up: she also knows how to use bizarre facts to fuel her imagination. The Mills & Boon volumes lining M6 may or may not be fictitious; but Berry can make a poem out of a report about coconuts floating in a Birmingham canal." Matthew Bartholomew-Biggs • London Grip "Liz Berry knows her own flight-path, that is for sure, coming in to land with a beautiful poem The Night You were Born in which she imagines her partner's birth while pregnant with his son. It is moving because not overworked. It exists as an imagined and a remembered moment." Kate Kellaway • Observer
"From one angle, it’s hard to say what a book like [Tarfia Faizullah's] Seam is for. It doesn’t seem to serve the history it burrows into; it doesn’t suffice as a historical document; it rewrites the voices of the Birangona Faizullah interviews into her own lush lyricism, seemingly erasing the singularity of those women who speak to her, she notes, at the “command” of “the woman who runs a support group.” And yet taken from another angle—would I, as a reader, lose something important with the absence of this book?—the value is clear. I would." Jonathan Farmer • Slate
"All those barely missed connections between the units, coupled with their strict regimentation on the page, creates a kind of prosodic static electricity." Stephen Ross on Oli Hazzard • Boston Review
"One of his finest moments in [Michael Symmons Roberts' Drysalter] – which is dedicated to composer James MacMillan with whom he has collaborated in writing opera and oratorios – is the austere and beautiful love poem The Vows ( it is described on a website that recommends poems for marriage ceremonies as a “killer of a wedding poem”)". Gerard Smyth • Irish Times
"The young American writer and translator met the newlyweds in 1967 at Harvard, where Borges (who had come to international notice after sharing the first Prix International with Samuel Beckett in 1961) was giving the Charles Eliot Norton poetry lectures. Di Giovanni pitched the idea of editing a collection of his poetry in English. Their association was so satisfactory that it continued in Buenos Aires, where they translated other early works together. Di Giovanni also encouraged Borges to write new poems and stories, which he funnelled straight into the New Yorker, while finding a publisher for the new collection, Doctor Brodie’s Report; indeed, he is justly credited with rebooting the elderly writer’s career and consolidating his cult status abroad. Borges granted him 50 per cent of the rights over their joint output. However, after the master’s death in 1986 his second wife, María Kodama, rescinded this contract and commissioned new translations, from Andrew Hurley. There have been many lawsuits in the intervening decades, and di Giovanni, apparently powerless to reprint and even post his versions online, remains understandably bitter." Lorna Scott Fox • TLS
"Elsewhere, many lines read like attempts to get as many “poetry words” as possible into a single sentence. “A sepia/penumbra clears round a moon of blood” comes close but “Shadow-green patina, faint turquoise wash/over wafer-thin kaolin” probably takes the biscuit. Such lines are interspersed with fridge-magnet wisdom: “The past is not lost/but covered up by time.”" Paul Batchelor on Padel. Harsent and Longley • New Statesman
"Each generation seems to need a true adventurer, a knight who will ride out and slay all the dragons of the literary world, while we stay at home in Eire and do little chores about the house. Heaney was the dragon-slayer, bringing entire poetry scenes from Oxford to Harvard within his dominion." Thomas McCarthy • Irish Examiner
"Brain-storming of this kind, however, represents a low-level of thought: a wealth of connections is indicated, but nothing is unpacked or worked out. It is as if the quantity and diversity of associations are considered adequate to the creation of a satisfying poem. And if it turns out that the associations are not particularly appropriate to the topic, this is of no real concern. They can be superseded at will." Simon Patton on John Kinsella • Sydney Review of Books
"Irish poetry in the twentieth century, and particularly that written in and about the North after 1969, has been relentlessly, exhaustively contextualised, and not always with the insight and acuity one would wish for. It is easy to point unthinkingly to events in the Troubles to elucidate or gloss the literary works which would seem to respond to or represent them; ironically, by the same token, it is easy to slide into a New Critical belligerence which leads to a problematic and rather prudish formalism seeking always to stress literature “as” literature, somehow imperviously superior to the conditions in which it is written and received. It is refreshing to find in Russell’s study [of Heaney], therefore, some unexpected contextual connections being asserted with care paid to both text and context." Rosie Lavan • Oxonian Review
"[Thomas Kinsella's] densely packed poems reward repeated re-reading giving the reader - somewhat ironically given his bleak outlook - a life affirming modus vivendi also." Belinda Cooke • Stride
"By the closing years of the eighteenth century, well-to-do readers had at last become familiar with the astonishing fact that ordinary working people liked to sing, to make poetry, and even, sometimes, to write it down. Yet the sensation caused by Ann Yearsley’s first volume of poems in 1785 would not have been possible without her complacent editors having described her in its preface as a “poor illiterate woman”." Min Wild • TLS
"Part of the ambivalence of Muldoon’s own poems resides in modal verbs and associated speech acts, which together somehow clear a space between what is certain or not (“I must have been dozing in the tub / when the telephone / rang …”). These formulations – the longer one occupies them as a reader – appear to open up political possibilities; or rather, the possibilities of new politics. Muldoon’s forms, his metaphors, even his famous half-rhymes, now seem proleptic, throwing themselves forward to the realities of the peace process that would begin to emerge materially in Northern Ireland in the early 90s, like the forked twig “astounding itself as a catapult” in another poem in the book." Giles Foden • Guardian
"[Michael] Robbins’s voice is hotheaded and hapless, a little bit country and a little left of center." Jason Guriel • New Republic
"I’m going to invent a rival poet, or perhaps two, who will gradually become much better than me—then the people who resent me for one reason or another, will line up to support one of my rivals (i.e. me)." Ted Hughes • The American Reader


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