The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"Now imagine that you’re a rat, two rats in fact, and you’ve been scavenging for scraps in a trench. And then you hear a pistol shot: your body and your ears explode with a sharp, percussive crack which, in its violence, seems cruel and absurdly disproportionate to whatever offence you’ve unwittingly given. You lie unmoving in the bottom of the trench, and wherever a rat’s spirit goes, that’s where your spirit goes." Tom Sleigh • Poetry Review
"I’m looking for poetry I can’t resist. Poetry that arrests me, reads me its riot act, signals my rights, detains me with its linguistic and thematic force (high volume or seductively subtle), and liberates me with a subtext of human culpability, vulnerability, acceptance, and possibility, what Emily Dickinson would call its “costumeless consciousness.”" Lisa Russ Spaar • VQR
"It’s a well-known poem, but seemed, in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, to take on new meaning. “We are closed in,” writes Yeats in stanza two, as though he were looking up the long dark corridor of history, “and the key is turned on our uncertainty.”" Tara Bergin Irish Times
"When it comes to interpreting the arts, intellectual seriousness demands that we accept the limits of any given system or structure." Jed Perl • NYRB
"I don’t think I intend to make the world strange myself (as it already is) but just put feelers out into the ice over the river, which is exciting. Our normal language is not very thick with new thoughts. I refer a lot to angels, as they are poetic bridges we have perhaps concocted to help us explore the before and after of our lives." Medbh McGuckian • Wake Forest
"Elsewhere, and to my mind, more successfully, [Amali] Rodrigo focuses more fully on things as opposed to ideas. ‘Ossuary’, for example begins with a lovely, atmospheric description of the passage of time in the ossuary, ‘One bone fell upon another/ as a loved body deranged,/ femur to humerus, mandible/ to radius, to lie apart from faint/ quakes of loincloth spill, tinsel/ voices gone inside out, as if/ small hands of ash dropped/ through skin into salt longings.’" Ian Pople • Manchester Review
"Popularity and posterity are not synonymous. A select few manage both. Most manage neither. Others manage the former, but not the latter. Pick up a poetry periodical from the early 1960s and you will find W.D. Snodgrass, often bracketed with Philip Larkin. Larkin remains on the shelves of any provincial Waterstones, but you never see someone reading The Führer Bunker in a doctor’s waiting room." Tom Jenks • The Wolf
"Other poems in Loop of Jade make clearer the various forms of power against which [Sarah] Howe hopes to pit the multifarious, illusory space of poetry. Sometimes it is state censorship by the Chinese government, as in the excellent poem ‘Having just broken the water pitcher’, where a dissident blogger “ponders” the subversive possibility of homophonic puns in Chinese characters." Hugh Foley • Oxonian Review
"Anthologies are fraught, question-begging enterprises, as are translations. Who is in? Who isn’t? Is this or that poem (not) included? Does this translation truly capture that great summit of X or Y’s writing? And de Paor’s book will prompt its share of healthy conversations on those topics, but the overwhelming response of most readers to this anthology will be that a brilliant and various century of writing has been assembled." John McAuliffe • Irish Times
"Oswald first mentions Anne Carson and Robert Bringhurst, but seems to set them apart from her idea of Canadian poetry, which is based more on Moosewood Sandhills — a book I haven’t read, but the title strikes me as a two-word compendium of ideas non-Canadians associate with Canada. Based on this book, Oswald describes Canadian poetry as “a quiet discipline — watchful and outdoor”." Brooke Clark • Wow -- Canada!
"Canadian poets are interesting precisely when they steal the whole world for themselves and sing it in all its useless complexity." Michael Lista • The Walrus
"How they sound. What they’re like to read, for pleasure and instruction. Something like that. In other words, they would be poems that you read because you wanted to read poems. Rather than, say, [the gossip column] Page Six of the New York Post." Frederick Seidel • Guardian
"Amongst a tradition that values neat poignancy angling towards resolution, he is our foremost poet of the troublesome indeterminacy of sadness and embarrassment." Charles Whalley on Luke Kennard • Literateur
"In Gibbons’s most autobiographical chapter, the character of his teacher, the British-born Donald Davie (1922–1995), is dissected for those same qualities. Estranged from London literary culture as a Northerner and Baptist, Davie immigrated to California (of all places) to inherit Yvor Winters’s position as the traditionalist of the English-department faculty at Stanford University. Gibbons, and indeed the whole of late-’60s culture, were against Davie, who struggled against his conservativism and tried to train himself into a greater openness." Ange Mlinko • The Nation
"About the matter of poetic projects, I am, as about many things, agnostic — a diagnostic mark, some might say, of my lack of commitment, my being on the wrong team. As someone partial some days to Keats’s proclamation that, “if poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all,” I find Lasky’s hostility to projects salutary." Maureen N McLane • LARB
"There’s also room for experimental work, with digital poetry now more widely known and a lot of visual or audio poetry installed in public places – and, as you mention, there is a wave of interesting new poets, including Rebecca Perry, Sam Riviere, Russell Jones, Harry Mann, Fiona Benson, et cetera. So I would say that poetry is thriving in its world – but there is a wider context, in which the arts are being undervalued in schools and universities and underfunded across the country. I do think our culture is suffering from the unequal education systems that now operate over here." Alice Oswald • Globe & Mail
"Few today have heard of [Lola] Ridge, but her impact on America society cannot be denied. She was that rarest of creature: a poet whose work brought real, tangible change. Ridge’s poem about Sacco and Vanzetti, for instance, was duplicated by the thousands, passed hand-to-hand among activists, and would help free the labor activist Tom Mooney from unjust incarceration." Zara Raab • The Critical Flame
"Like certain words in English poetry, he came to believe, Buddha faces could be regarded as expressing at least two and sometimes many different meanings at the same time; and the sculptural convention that allowed this was asymmetry, with the left and right sides of the Buddha’s face showing different emotions or spiritual states." Kevin Jackson • Literary Review
"Lerner is fascinated by the question of why people dislike poetry—and most important, why poets dislike potery. A wry, highly self-conscious guide, he lures us in by sharing with the reader that, at events, when he or another poet is introduced, the words I, too, dislike it run through his head. When he is teaching or discussing poetry, the phrase sometimes takes on “the feel of negative rumination and sometimes a kind of manic, mantric affirmation, as close as I get to unceasing prayer.”" Meghan O'Rourke • Bookforum
"All these adjectives point to a poet who is hard to categorize and not really like anyone else at all. They also, often, suggest a writer who has been marginalized as an oddity. Now, forty-five years after her death, bound inside this large annotated collection, she can be celebrated as a major English poet of the twentieth century. She is a writer of astonishing skill, range, comedy, and depth of feeling; she is inimitable, strange, and utterly original." Hermione Lee • NYRB
"So taken in are we by [Wallace Stevens'} conviction that the fates had dealt him a lousy hand that we’re thrown for a loop when, at age twenty-eight, Stevens—who at the time was working as a legal advisor for the Equitable Life Assurance Company—runs down to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Theodore Roosevelt to discuss getting “the country back on its feet in the wake of the financial downturn.” Pretty impressive. Why, then, wasn’t this level of achievement enough for him? How did he come by his sky-high expectations? To whose life was he comparing his own?" Bruce Bawer • Hudson Review
" But [Robert] Bridges’s effort had one welcome result. It influenced his daughter, Elizabeth Daryush, who understood from her father that the normal speech stresses of English syllables could offer an exciting sound, and one differing from traditional metric verse. She also realised that a breakdown in regulation could push her poems into a post-First-World-War society. Daryush is possibly the first English poet to write in modern syllabics." Claire Crowther • PN Review

"I was initially disappointed with its failure to develop the image’s potential, but it actually demonstrates Kathleen Jamie’s ability to use reticence, making a point with apt imagery and a minimum of words." Mike Barlow • The Compass
"It is in the nature of the provincial poet to see the whole world in the details of the place he or she celebrates. This place is the world, that is the assumption from which the poet proceeds. In the case of Fitzroy, where the population has been drawn from everywhere, the presence of the larger world in the smaller needs no special demonstration. The four hundred biographies, which constitute the biography of the place itself, cover a vast range of lives, occupations, histories, identities, classes and cultures." Ivor Indyk • Sydney Review of Books
"Like ourselves, a page is opened to stand before us, words are read and lifted from a page, and then felled and put away, closed back into horizontal or vertical form. And the melancholy inherent to an imperfect memory of content when poem or book is closed, is made up for by the aesthetic object, like a stone stacked within memory, as an oblique, lost form requisite for re-entering, rebuilding, and rereading." Claire Potter • Poetry
"By now, Stein’s letters to Van Vechten were routinely addressed to “Papa Woojums,” Woojums being the name of the family unit that Stein, Toklas, and Van Vechten created for themselves around this time, and in which each adopted a distinct role." Edward White • The Paris Review
"I think the analogy with visual art is doubly interesting when it comes to the question of narrative. While there is a sort of elliptical story that Loop of Jade tells, particularly in the three long poems about my mother, it’s not the sort of narrative you would encounter in a novel. The story, such as it is, emerges through individual images or fragments, a bit like the panels in a series of narrative paintings where you have to intuit what has happened in the gaps between them." Sarah Howe • Honest Ulsterman
"There’s formal as well as strategic variety here, but not so much in terms of metre or rhyme. Rather, it’s the visual shape and punctuation of the poems that [Greta] Stoddart plays with. There are two concrete poems, a pear-shaped poem about a pear (which is also, cleverly, a tear-shaped poem about a tear) and a poem about four square windows arranged as a 2×2 grid of prose squares." Stephen Payne • The Compass
"Like Yeats’ own Last Poems, and The Cantos by Ezra Pound – particularly The Pisan Cantos published in the late 1940s when Kinsella began writing – these poems form a cohesive whole which not only echoes across a wide body of personal opus but an even wider spread of literary and artistic creation." James McCabe on Thomas Kinsella • Irish Times
"Is it time the award rules were re-drawn to protect the remnants of generic classification, tattered and frayed in the past by modernism, today by marketing? Is it time that more appropriate awards were devised for innovative work that is deliberately careless of genres? Citizen, described by Capildeo as ‘the crystalline aggregation of “microaggressions”’, is out of the ordinary and deserves to be recognised for what it is. But it is not a collection of poems. It is not a book of verse." Michael Schmidt • PN Review
"On August 11, 1689, towards the end of his Narrow Road, Bashō wrote, ‘What was composed / On the fan is torn apart / And falls together.’ I looked and looked for that tree in my neighbourhood near Bashō’s house, but couldn’t find it in the welter of streets and buildings from the long perspective of the sky-deck. Still, I knew it was there." Emily Grosholz • PN Review
"The question of the civic responsibility of the poet, and the abdication of that responsibility, was thrown time and again at Northern Irish writers. " Sean Hewitt • Irish Times
"The effect is as if an exquisite acoustic player had gone electric – a louder, dirtier sound, not universally welcomed, but necessary at the time as a working through of angers and despairs, a digesting and regurgitating of the too-muchness of post-modernity." Harry Clifton • DRB
"The genius, like Barthes’ author, is very much a modern figure, produced (as Barthes has it) as our society “discovered the prestige of the individual,” and in good measure the result of capitalism, with its emphasis on the individual over the collective, its contempt for old rules and love of “creative destruction,” and its emphasis on everything—even individual style—as a kind of property. But is it likely to remain with us?" Robert Archambeau • B O D Y
"Relating works of art to one’s life, after all, is easy. (No reference library required.) Moreover, the confessional voice is dangerously attractive; as Virginia Woolf put it, “under the decent veil of print one can indulge one’s egoism to the full.” Such a voice doesn’t necessarily guarantee more honest criticism, and, in some ways, its subtle designs on the reader make it even more deserving of our wariness." Jason Guriel • The Walrus
"The poet, critic and translator Jeffrey Wainwright (b. 1944) calls this “tall talk” and “plain talk” and readily admits he is always impatient “to get on to the big number”. For elegists, caught between their intimacy with the dead and the utter unknowability of death, the division between the lyrical and the real runs particularly deep." Andrew McCulloch • TLS
"[Goldsmith] was capable of cherishing authorship as a possible source of independence and respectability, and of reviling it as base enslavement to poor public taste." Aileen Douglas • Irish Times
"The idea that “Australian poetry” exists is not a foregone conclusion, nor yet that a nation — Australia or otherwise — can be 
justified. Certainly, in the age of Wi-Fi, linguistic traditions based on geography, ethnicity, and political allegiances are contestable and 
increasingly difficult to discern. " Bronwyn Lea • Poetry
"However, just as the boy finds his own voice, or rather, his own ‘chats’ – just as Chingonyi names himself in the poem: ‘k to the a to the y to the o’ (26) – culture shifts. Hip hop replaces Garage, one white American voice overpowering many black British voices, and the boy is back to learning someone else’s words. Chingonyi arranges linguistic and rhythmic variations within stanzas that visually resemble prose paragraphs, conveying the experiences of being surrounded, being spoken over, and transposing oneself in an attempt to be heard." Nisha Ramayya • Ambit
"“One of Whitman’s core beliefs was that the body was the basis of democracy,” Mr. Folsom, a professor of English at the University of Iowa, continued. “The series is a hymn to the male body, as well as a guide to taking care of what he saw as the most vital unit of democratic living.”" Jennifer Schuessler • NYT
"In her essay ‘Erotic tendencies’ Lee-Houghton explores this poetry and that of the desiring confessional mode – a mode often dismissed, probably as it is seen as pertaining to women. Lee-Houghton also calls for more interesting poetry of desire from men. I have to say this issue does not include very many cries from the testicles though they are there if you look hard. I approached women writers for the most part because they were the ones I wanted to hear from most keenly. I was interested in the undertold poetry of desire." Nia Davies • Poetry Wales
"In the sonnet “Als ich den beiden so berichtet” (“In Dante’s Hell” in this translation from Jamie McKendrick’s 2003 collection Ink Stone), Brecht playfully imagines a world where the sin of adultery is cancelled out by a new political and social order “on earth” in which, since there is no ownership, there can be no theft, leaving Paolo and Francesca free to walk out of hell, their chains “no more than paperclips”." Andrew McCulloch • TLS
"Highly entertaining though Best’s work is, it may be just as well that the New Poets promotional tour doesn’t go any further north than Shropshire, given these lines from “the illuminati jokebook”: “If I ever become a stupendous bazooka then / please / shoot me”. Careful what you wish for, Crispin." Sean O'Brien Guardian
"Three of the signatories of the Proclamation – Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Plunkett – were mystic poets. MacDonagh, a lecturer in English who had written a thesis on Thomas Campion, wrote that the mystic seeks “to express the things of God that are made known to him in no language”. The rebels sought a dream of which they could not directly speak: they could speak only of having sought it." Declan Kiberd TLS
"A writer can never be on the side of killing. It is not possible, you know. But some people love killing and violence." Adonis • NYRB
"Contemporary criticism is positively crowded with first-person pronouns, micro-doses of memoir, brief hits of biography. Critics don’t simply wrestle with their assigned cultural object; they wrestle with themselves, as well." Jason Guriel • The Walrus
"And this allows for the amazing ideology of poetry. Allows for the idea that it is a free act. It is doubly free. It seems to have no economic value and seems not to be subordinated to labor discipline. It seems not to be salaried work or waged work. And so it can stand for certain kinds of freedom. Poetry can stand for freedom so intensely that people start to worry there is too much freedom." Joshua Clover Poetry
"I was kind of hoping Canadian poets were going to be braver and better than they were." Michael Lista • Open Book
"‘The Riverbank Field’ exploits the wider tendency among 20th-century poets to recuperate epic in the register of the humdrum, a tendency Heaney once neatly characterised by saying, ‘if Philip Larkin had ever composed his version of The Divine Comedy he would probably have discovered himself not in a dark wood but a railway tunnel halfway on a journey down England.’ That domestication of epic, in which allusions to heroic fictions at once give sanction to and emphasise the small scale of an individual life, was vital for Heaney’s later work. It enabled what might be called postcolonial parallax, in which a master text of a dominant civilisation is deliberately transformed from the ostentatiously low perspective of an unheroic life." Colin Burrow LRB
"When Aeneas finds the golden bough, Virgil says Aeneas “avidus refringit”. He breaks it off “avidus”: “eager”, “ardent”. The Loeb has “greedily breaks” and Heaney has followed suit: “greedily tore it off”. Would Virgil have wanted, for his reverent hero, the rather selfish note in English “greedy”? Might Heaney have moved on from the Loeb in a final revision? We will never know. Generally he is beautifully faithful to the Latin rather than the Loeb, and also to his own voice, his “own frequency”." Ruth Padel• FT
"That said, I still find him one of the most probing and intelligent critics on the poetry scene and one who is probably indispensable if you're someone who is hungry to find out what's going on. This is his most 'up-to-date' book so far, bringing us directly to the here and now and I think he makes a pretty good stab at describing the scene. Dip in and go with the flow." Steve Spence • Stride
"Speaking from the podium, Ashbery called “An Octopus” the most important poem of the 20th century; and while the remark provoked a few titters, he was reiterating a conviction that was neither novel nor idiosyncratic." James Longenbach • The Nation
"I have come to be very fond of German again. There are reaches of simplicity that English cannot do without sounding ignorant and stupid. In English you always have to sound as if you are making an effort. English is basically a trap: class trap, dialect trap, feeling trap. It’s almost a language for spies, for people to find out what people are really thinking. Operating in German, which doesn’t have these heffalump traps, would be lovely." Michael Hofmann • Guardian
"Teasley’s Brodsky is both darker and brighter than the one we thought we knew, and he is the stronger for it, as a poet and a person. The book’s reception itself is instructive. Since its publication by Corpus Books in the spring of 2015, Brodsky Among Us has been a sensation in the poet’s former country, quickly becoming a best seller that is now in its sixth printing. [...] Even so, the book has yet to find a publisher in English, the language in which it was written." Cynthia Haven • The Nation
"But the images in Clinical Blues are not the ones where Mama Afrika is praised, and her bushes are exalted, or her ancestors invoked and repudiated." Socrates Mbamalu • Brittle Paper
"But maybe many poems in both Best American and British reveal a state of mind, an anxiety, while withholding the causes. So little in the world makes sense that a poet can sometimes only construct a meaningful poem from disparate elements and glancing references, working all the harder with imagery, lineation and other usual devices to draw the reader in." Fiona Moore • The Poetry Review
"[We] tend to trust, or at least pay attention to, online reviews by strangers despite knowing some are faked or malicious, because better safe than sorry. An individual has always been able to damage a stranger’s reputation from afar, via rumour, the written word, or whatever. With the internet, the capacity is magnified in every sense, though human nature remains pretty much the same, for good and for ill. Technology is just an extension of our will." Karen Solie • Prac Crit
"There is, however, a sadder version of the story, that of a writer who finds himself unable to continue as a lyric poet: Eliot is the most vexing example. Another, lesser poet, the Tennessean John Crowe Ransom (1888–1974), wrote poetry for only nine years, and spent the rest of his life being a critic (while obsessively revising, mostly for the worse, the poems he had published years before)." Helen Vendler • NYRB
"When his eyes began to fail and writing became a chore, we agreed to communicate thenceforth by phone. Now, on a greyish Sunday afternoon, approaching five o’clock, I want for his voice. It was one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever known to issue from a man’s face – a lilting voice at once quizzical, playful, speculative and desirous of not just literature but also a decent bottle of wine, a splash of Poulenc or Mompou playing in the background and, above all, the light and colour one finds in the French paintings he so loved. Marius Kociejowski on Christopher Middleton • PN Review (scroll down)
"You can hate contemporary poetry — in any era — as much as you want for failing to realize the fantasy of universality, but the haters should stop pretending any poem ever successfully spoke for everyone." Ben Lerner • Poetry
"At Bard, Hecht’s roles included Antigonus in A Winter’s Tale, Neville Chamberlain, and one of the leads in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Aria da Capo. As Hecht’s one-time student Chevy Chase told me, when Hecht returned to Bard as a professor, he played a supporting role in Love’s Labour’s Lost, with Chase and Blythe Danner." David Yezzi • New Criterion
"Rapid, joky, suddenly mysterious, dramatic, Derek Mahon reminds us that poems can be complex and lucidly direct at once." John McAuliffe • Irish Times
"I watched a million cowboy movies growing up, and in the ones where the cowboy doesn’t ride off into the sunset, he usually dies. Sometimes he dies while riding off into the sunset, slumped over on a horse. There has to be a better way." Patricia Lockwood • New Republic
"In 2015, 15% of books in translation were from the French, and just 8.8% of those 113 books were from outside of Europe and Canada. During my year in Marrakech, I started looking into which Moroccan writers had already been translated. I assumed the renowned Moroccan writers had all managed to find their way into English at some point. I would soon learn just how untrue this was. In the entire history of Moroccan writing, written in any language—be it French, Arabic, or any of the local dialects—I managed to find only roughly thirty Moroccan writers with full-length works translated into English." Emma Ramadan • Words Without Borders
"One toehold for interpretation is the seeming contrast between the saccharine verses sung by Fayrouz, whose songs Abounaddara often uses to ironic effect, and the pseudo-Stalinist spectacle of stiffly dancing children. Yet the words of Gibran’s poem also say something true about life under Assad: children really don’t belong to their parents. As we can see, they belong to the state—like everyone else." Robyn Cresswell • NYRB
"From a technical point of view, One Hundred Years a Nation is a text that derives as much from the hip-hop tradition of “spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics” as it does from anything in Tadhg Dall Ó hÚigínn or Gerard Manley Hopkins. The music serves sometimes as a backdrop upon which the words inscribe themselves, sometimes as an FX track. Even the melody of the anthem is defined by the intrinsic musicality of the phrase “100 years a nation”, a phrase I trust will resound over the distant grinding of tectonic plates." Paul Muldoon • Irish Times
"Nothing is more essential to British poetry in its present condition than that a sense of “utter alienation” should obtrude on it." Geoffrey Hill • TLS
"Wang sees Kenneth Goldsmith’s statements that “uncreative writing is a postidentity literature,” and Marjorie Perloff’s 2006 MLA presidential address lamenting the demise of the “merely literary” (as opposed to the social or historical), to represent, at best, a repression—whether conscious or unconscious—about the significance of race in U.S. experience, and at worst, the embodiment of racist assumptions that low, “content-based” art is primarily written by people of color." David Micah Greenberg • Boston Review
"All rhymers of every century believed—wordlessly, mutely, even incoherently believed—that rhyme, by punctuating and thus amplifying the effects of a poem’s rhythm, helped to put a kind of spell on the reader, inducing unintelligible pleasure—and acquiescence to whatever was being said. They thought rhyme was a drug. And the unconscious inhibition against rhymes that might be supposed to interrupt the drug effect was simply one more development in the general 17th- and 18th-century program for improving English versification." Anthony Madrid • Prelude
"I have been described as more European in my writerly sensibilities, and I think that may be true, insofar as I not only think it’s okay to use abstraction but that it’s essential – it’s the abstractions that we’re always wrestling with, not the tangible things that are easy enough to pin down." Carl Phillips • Smartish Pace
"The mythical mapped on to the personal; the poetry of ages traced on to the human trials of life, illness and death." Guardian
"How to live a life “unsponsored” by a deity, in which we are responsible for inventing our own meanings, was the great subject of Stevens’s poetry from beginning to end." Adam Kirsch • The Atlantic

"I freely admit to a prejudice against the exercises in writing pantoum, villanelle, ghazal or sestina, which may enable bonding among groups of students. I have a strong feeling that a poem should find its form as an individual writing enterprise and that a poet should find her voice as she moves through the forest of subjects that want to be written about and words and shapes that offer themselves. For some poets the frisky games played by these exotic forms are utterly seductive and transform their writing ‑ but I can't in the case of Jane Clarke make out just why “On the Boat” should take the shape of a pantoum or “Who owns the field?” of a villanelle." Eilean Ni Chuilleanain • DRB
"She had studied with Alice Notley and Ted Berrigan, two of the most admired, most out-there poets of the countercultural New York literary scene. In a recent interview in the Guardian, Myles says of this time, “you just rolled in on Friday night with your beer and Alice Notley was teaching a workshop. You brought drugs.” She had worked as an assistant to James Schuyler, one of the original New York School poets. She may have come from a working-class family in Massachusetts, but if what impresses you are the avant-garde and renegade circles of New York City poetics, Myles’s pedigree is second to none." Arielle Greenberg • Poetry Foundation "It’s a charming enough poem; and, I would guess, it worked at what it was intended to do: lure this girl into bed. But that’s not why Myles reads it to Schuyler, or why she quotes herself reading it to Schuyler on the last pages of her autobiographical novel. The poem is homage, only deepened by its ostensible cruelty to the old iceberg in the chair, his “boozy wrinkles” revealing a lifetime of experience. It is written in Schuyler’s ribbon-like short lines, haltingly enjambed; it reminds me especially of Schuyler’s heartbreaking poem, for me his greatest: “This Dark Apartment.”" Dan Chiasson • NYRB
"The best-known sentence of Shklovsky’s long scholarly career is “Automatization eats things, clothes, furniture, your wife and the fear of war” – and yet the connections between ostranenie and war have hardly been mentioned in a hundred years. In literature, language can be made strange and thus experienced more intensely (similar arguments are to be found in Aristotle)." Alexandra Berlina • TLS
"After Syria's civil war started, the statue of al-Maarri was sprayed with bullets by fighters who deemed his work heretical. Eventually militants from the al-Nusra front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, finished the job - it was reported that in February 2013, in the middle of the night, they knocked off his enormous bronze head." Kanishk Tharoor and Maryam Maruf • BBC News
" The novel is a child of this era, whereas poetry is flung into it kicking and screaming and nostalgic for lost status, but both genres are equally without external sanction. The authority of the writer must be charismatic, since (a very few knighthoods and laureateships notwithstanding) there is precious little institutional authority on offer. But what now, when much of literature (especially literature that sees itself as literary) has entered the academy, not only as the site of interpretation and evaluation but as the site of creation." Robert Archambeau • B O D Y
"Its style and approach, it’s true, bring Kitty Kelley to mind more often than Richard Ellmann." Mark Ford • LRB
"In the introduction to her book, Karthika Nair states that the aim of the text was originally to be ‘a re-imagining of the Mahabharata through the voices of eighteen women’. Nair’s final version offers the monologues of nineteen characters, three of them male, and a couple of them wolves." Ian Pople • Manchester Review
"This was a contentious issue some years ago. Philip Larkin argued that when Auden left England for the United States in January 1939, he lost his theme. The United States never gave him anything worth writing poems about. I am not sufficiently in the world to know whether or not this is still a hot issue." Denis Donoghue • Irish Times
"We know the horse is scraps of paper and we also know—cannot resist knowing—that it is a horse. Not an “outside” horse, not a horse up on top of Utah on top of the White Rim Trail, but a magic horse." Kay Ryan • Threepenny Review
"You get a mind deeply immersed in and deeply engaged with her poets, absolutely attuned to the fine workings of a poem and determined to communicate her findings to the widest possible audience. It’s worth thinking about that: university scholars don’t on the whole, at least in literature, bother with the community outside their gates. Most contemporary literary scholarship is an internal conversation, if even that, or a kind of border-patrolling whose chief weapons are impenetrability and power prose designed to repel invaders. Vendler, from the outset, made a distinction between scholarship and criticism. Peter Sirr • DRB
"This is a thorny, difficult book. Reading it requires care, and effort. That is praise." Bethany W Pope • Wales Arts Review
"Ridge was not just a poet of activism. She was one of the first to delineate the life of the poor in Manhattan and, in particular, women’s lives in New York City." Teresa Svoboda • Boston Review
"I really really want a poetry that is not just stateless or borderline but is anti-state, but I do not think that poetry as a whole ‘is a practice that calls for the abandonment of sovereignty’." Juliana Spahr • Tender (pdf)
"Fittingly, his posthumous book from The Aeneid may come to be recognised as his finest translation of all, as well as the one most personal to him." Bernard O'Donoghue • Irish Times
"I thought I would be able to clearly see the move between Roggenbuck the ironic, post-internet troll in his accounts of his experiments with YikYak – and Roggenbuck the Poet, aping after a Poetry or Poetic Moment in his love poems. But I really couldn’t – and not, because Roggenbuck has rehearsed himself in front of a mirror until the whole thing is so consistent that we can’t tell, but because he is only concerned with saying and doing things that he 100% believes in at that moment. What this means for someone that high kicks between poems though I’m not sure." Lucy Burns • Manchester Review
"Whittock’s paradoxical visibility, then, is a product of the internet, as poet obscurity is now most easily achieved by refusing an online presence. For non-refuseniks, what’s interesting is likely to circulate: especially, in this case, when the writing is a completely unexpected, wittily fused celebration and critique of Australia’s other national sport." Michael Farrell • Sydney Review of Books
"Blaser recalls: "When Duncan was here at Simon Fraser for a reading he said, 'I've given nothing up for poetry.' This is in contrast -- you heard that, Warren -- to the cost for people like Jack." Tallman responds: "Well, Duncan once said, 'I would kick poetry in the teeth.'" And Blaser retorts: "Yes, 'I would kick poetry in the teeth rather than have it cost me.'" Well worth noting is that, in both instances, Duncan is never referred to as "Robert" while Spicer is always referred to as "Jack."" Patrick James Dunagan Bookslut
"[Heather] Phillipson likens writing poetry to editing her art videos or creating her installations; in each, she uses the technique of montage — or ‘‘ramming objects, images, words, sounds together’’ — that is now her absurdist trademark. Her videos’ unlikely layers — a ’60s girl-group soundtrack with the image of a loaf of bread on top of a disquisition on Abstract Expressionism, for instance — create what she calls a ‘‘gap’’ in the viewer’s understanding. ‘‘And something has to come in to fill that gap,’’ she continued: ‘‘the imagination.’’ Indeed, Phillipson’s work can seem a kind of aesthetic shock treatment for the viewer’s own creativity." Ben Eastham NYT
"One of my favourite moments in the [Jeremy Noel-Tod] pamphlet arrives with a provocative comparison between Marianne Dashwood’s passion for William Cowper in Sense and Sensibility (a marker of passé or gauche taste even in Austen’s time) and our current mania for Seamus Heaney." Dai George • Poetry Wales
"Misreading a minor, early work, from an oeuvre as substantial, as varied and as uneven as Hughes’s – plays, stories, children’s books and volumes of critical essays and translations as well as poetry, not to speak of the hinterland of unpublished writings – could be called a minor lapse in a biographer. But Bate has other readings just as bizarre, and cumulatively they suggest a careless approach to his subject’s work – even though “The biographical impulse must be at one with the literary-critical”, his Prologue reminds us. And, as with the detail, so with the central contention of his book." Alan Jenkins • TLS
"Here, revised, chopped up and interspersed with other subjects, “Hold Still, Lion!” allows readers to approach Creeley as Wright does, repeatedly, glancingly, as she lives and thinks of other things. “When I wrote to poet Rosmarie Waldrop (who was out of the country at the time), regarding Robert Creeley’s death, she responded, ‘It is the end of a world.’ ” Then white space for the rest of the page, so that reading Wright on Waldrop on Creeley, imagining long-distance shared loss between poets, becomes something like coming across an epitaph in a graveyard that arrests you with a sudden perception of death in life. Then you go on." Daisy Fried • NYT
"Using the Gospel story in which Christ draws a line in the sand with his finger to prevent a crowd from stoning an adulterous woman, Heaney says that writing can change things. Over time, occasionally, I have felt a need to speak as a gay man, since until recently we were not encouraged by society to love one another, marry, and have children. So if I have an ethics, it is simply to be true, but never at the expense of original language." Henri Cole • Paris Review
"The thing I respect most about the best contemporary Australian poetry is its bravery, its successes in spite of a lack of reach and marketability. The best Australian poetry has melody as well as melodrama, a tradition of a language caught in multicultural maelstrom, a poetry that dares to just go on its nerve." Rob Wilson • Cordite
"On one occasion when Goh feels that he has been snubbed by the great man in the Coffee Inn, Goh spends an hour "devising devilish ways for his [Patrick Kavanagh's] demise," only for Kavanagh to return, place a hand on Goh's shoulder and say, "Sorry, me lad. I was grappling with the muse, you see." Goh later tells Kavanagh he wants to be a writer, only for Kavanagh to quote, "Child, do not go / Into the dark places of the soul."" Michael O'Sullivan • Cha
"The border between memory and present is always pervious. Many of [Ni Chuilleanain's] poems hover nostalgically over the past and withdraw just at the point of sentiment. Often to the fore is the sense of guidance by a personal reading life into external fact, one prompting the other, in much the way Schliemann was guided by the tick of literature in the ruins of Mycenae. All this mention of excavation comes directly from the poet herself, where readers learn in 'Youth' that "all I have done combines to excavate / a channelled maze where I am escaping home"." Dean Browne • Southword
"Palestine, such as it is—the occupied territories and the Palestinian people (including, importantly, the Palestinian diaspora)—composes a rootless body that defies clear definition, a body which is abundant, which exceeds borders, but which is not confused." Adam Day on Najwan Darwish • Kenyon Review
"It’s interesting – after all the study I did and all the reading I’ve done about psychoanalysis – the great presentation of psychoanalysis is still ‘In Memory of Sigmund Freud’, which is one of the incredible poems of the twentieth century. There are still people who will say “Freud was right, Freud was wrong…” – it doesn’t make any difference. He made these discoveries about consciousness, not all of them were right but many of them in their basic configurations are undeniable." CK Williams • The Poetry Review
"When Danielle, an American visitor to Belfast, stumbles upon a mysterious handwritten note in a 2nd hand copy of Ciaran Carson's novel The Star Factory - she finds herself on a labyrinthine journey through his prose and through the hidden side-roads and alleyways of the city." Conor Garrett • BBC


New poems

Rebecca Perry Poetry Review

Carmine Starnino The Manchester Review

Nyla Matuk Manchester Review

Patrick Mackie New Statesman

Harry Giles Guardian

Alicia Ostriker Massachusetts Review

Jana Prikryl Harpers

Nyla Matuk The Literateur

Brett Foster Kenyon Review

Mark Waldron Poetry London

AF Moritz The High Window

Tom Sleigh Threepenny Review

Andrea Cohen Cincinnati Review / Poetry Daily

John Ashbery Boston Review

Rory Waterman PN Review

Jaya Savige Poetry

Kevin Durkin Calamaro Magazine

Jane Yeh NYRB

Tara Bergin Poetry Ireland Review

Thomas Kinsella PN Review

Emma Must Poetry Ireland Review

Gig Ryan Cordite

Sarah-Jane Barnett Best NZ Poems 2015

Sarah Harwell Ploughshares

Abigail George Brittle Paper

Matthew Zapruder Bat City Review

Thomas McCarthy Irish Times

Jenny Haysom The New Quarterly

WB Yeats New Statesman

Joseph Campana Kenyon Review

Daniel Corrie Calamaro

Jennifer L Knox jubilat

Derek Mahon Poetry Daily / Gallery

WS Merwin Poetry Daily / Yale Review

Robert Gray Lyrikline

Regie Cabico Poetry

EA Soyemi Brittle Paper

Patrick Mackie The Poetry Review

A.K. Blakemore The Poetry Review

Emily Berry The White Review / Poetry International

Lesley Glaister Best Scottish Poetry 2015

Paul Muldoon Irish Times

William Logan Partisan

DS Marriott Shearsman

Derek Mahon Gallery

David Solway New Criterion

Amanda Joy Australian Book Review

Albert Goldbarth Georgia Review

Jillian Weise Clinic

James Tate Massachusetts Review

John Ashbery Paris Review

Sasha Steensen Kenyon Review

Cathal McCabe Irish Times

Ben Lerner Harpers

Maura Dooley Guardian

Mary Ruefle Paris Review

Laurie Duggan Cordite

Carl Phillips Poetry

Peter Sirr Irish Examiner

Katie Manning Queen Mob's Teahouse

Gail Mazur Hudson Review

Ian Pople Poetry Ireland Review

Jo Shapcott Southword



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