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poetry, essays, ideas
"Elizabeth Bishop’s Complete Poems." Jenny Bornholdt NZ Poetry Shelf
"To some extent this is ground that Kennard has covered before, but Cain is an altogether darker creation, written from the doldrums between youth and middle-age (the stretch that people who don’t hate themselves call their “prime”)." Paul Batchelor New Statesman
"A chronicle of modern St. Lucia, it was also an epic of the New World, weaving from its characters’ encounters with history a deeper, vaster story on a sunken loom. On walks down the Lenape Trail near my childhood home in New Jersey, I listened for the lost Indian languages Walcott heard in the woodcutters’ pyre: “a resinous bonfire that turned the leaves brown/ with curling tongues, then ash, and their language was lost.”" Julian Lucas NYT
"“Poems are visible right now, which is terribly ironic, because you rather wish it weren’t so necessary,” [Jane Hirshfield] said. “When poetry is a backwater it means times are O.K. When times are dire, that’s exactly when poetry is needed.”" Alexandra Alter NYT
"The mother is more appealing, as she struggles to grasp her daughter’s online fame. “No, no, no, no, no, no, Mom,” Patricia [Lockwood] says regarding the viral rape poem. “You must never look at the comments.” “Do not post this on the internet,” Mom vainly commands at another point." Suzi Feay FT
"Lewis’s husband was the poet and critic Yvor Winters. I knew about and read Winters during my graduate work in English in the nineties and early aughts. But I’d never heard of Janet Lewis. Having now read two of her novels and a number of poems, this shocks me. I mean, it does and it doesn’t." Karen Solie Brick
"It’s also brave to choose NOT to speak out of your ‘identity’, though it can feel like you’re letting the side down. It’s ok not to be a ‘voice’. It’s ok to watch the shadows playing on the wall, or listen to the west wind, and quietly bring them into a poem for their own sake. It’s a Paleolithic eye that’s doing the watching, after all, evolved of the deep ongoing human journey. An ancient listening ear which is also your own. How you see and listen is part of your own self." Kathleen Jamie The Scores
"A portrait of Brodsky hangs in Baryshnikov’s pied-à-terre a few blocks away. He had asked the poet to caption it on his 40th birthday: “Our native land is wide, it’s vast. Though neither Mouse nor Cat felt like living there to see their 40th.” “It’s very witty in Russian,” Baryshnikov says. It is also deeply personal. Brodsky called the diminutive Baryshnikov “Mouse”, which in Russian sounds like Misha, Baryshnikov’s nickname. The older, larger Brodsky was “Cat”." Neil Munshi FT

"A WB Yeats Rose created for the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth in 2015 sits in the corner of a good-sized conservatory at the side of the house. This opens on to the tiered back garden, filled with trees and colourful shrubs, from which there are good sea views." Frances O'Rourke Irish Times
"[David Jones's] In Parenthesis also reaches back and forth in history; because, as Jones puts it in the introduction, ‘at no time did one so much live with a consciousness of the past, the very remote, and the more immediate and trivial past, both superficially and more subtly.’ Dilworth recounts Jones meeting a ‘shit wallah’ carrying two full buckets. Jones commented to the man, ‘You’ve got a dirty, bloody job.’ To which the man replied, ‘Bloody job indeed. The army of Artaxerxes was utterly destroyed for lack of sanitation.’" Ian Pople The Manchester Review "Jones often wrote about “the Break”, the cultural moment somewhere around the beginning of modernity when the European world-view shifted decisively. Instead of a world where things were unique but linked by an unimaginable density of connection and cross-reference, we had created one in which things were unconnected but endlessly repeatable and where everything could be exchanged in the market for an agreed equivalent: above all, for money. Jones saw his work – both as a visual artist and as a poet – as a sustained protest against the Break and an effort to show that the older picture could, after all, be brought to life." Rowan Williams New Statesman
"Several years ago at a writers’ conference, Tate revealed another unusual feature of the poem. He was asked about his approach to revision and said flatly that he never revised. Instead, he would write a promising line and sit and wait for the next good line to come to him." John Morgan NYRB
"AE’s poem, written initially as an Easter Rising elegy, was part of a deliberate effort to build bridges between different political traditions in Ireland. A disenchanted AE resigned from the Convention in February 1918 when it became clear to him that an agreed settlement was no longer achievable." Dan Mulhall Irish Times
"Nevertheless, by the end of browsing through this heartening and life-enhancing selection, some recurrent principles do make themselves felt. Nature in some sense constantly returns. And we see what the editors mean about the re-creation of the “visceral thrill” of the first reading of a poem." Bernard O'Donoghue Irish Times
"A singer of hymns and a student of the harpsichord, her favourite poets George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins and Baudelaire – was she more seventeenth-century, or nineteenth? A delayed Metaphysical or a fearless Victorian traveller in pelerine and hat and veil? She liked littorals and islands, and spent probably half her life outside the United States. She herself noted, “it is odd how I often feel myself to be a late-late Post World War I generation member, rather than a member of the Post World War II generation”, to which technically she belonged, her first book, North & South, having been published in 1946." Michael Hofmann TLS
"We ignore the misuse of language at our peril, the invasions of mind that mirror invasions of land. [Solman] Sharif shows us the consequences of that collective failure. Look demonstrates not only that language is an integral part of the military arsenal but also that poetry remains a subversive act, a refusal to submit to despair or amnesia." Eva FW Linn Critical Flame
"[Michael O'Brien's] poems are spare and exact, but everywhere they remind us of earthly abundance: “here where there is everything instead of nothing.” He liked Lady Murasaki’s answer to the Prince when he asked her why she writes: So there will never be a time when people don’t know these things happened. Michael had a special affinity for resemblances. He loved similes, echoes, and puns. The word “likeness” appears in his poems again and again." Patrick Morrissey Chicago Review
"Victor Hugo was a fine Gothicky-Romantic artist in his own right, and an innovative one too, mixing onto his palette everything from coffee grounds, blackberry juice, and caramelized onion to spit and soot, not to mention what his biographer Graham Robb tactfully terms “even less respectable materials.” Julian Barnes NYRB
"Emily Berry’s second collection, Stranger, Baby – published this year by Faber & Faber, is luminous green and hard to put down." Annie Muir The Manchester Review
"The splendidly titled Brexit Day on the Balmoral Estate is a fine widening out of subject matter for Waterman. These are loosely ‘travel’ poems and travel around Europe from Sarajevo, to Albania, to the aforementioned Balmoral. Like a lot of travel writing – and travel poetry, in particular – the poems are journeys around the self as much as they are around the landscape." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"These reviews have a tough tone but a generous outlook, and one of the virtues of reading decades of reviews collected in this manner is that we have the chance to see that [Mary] Dalton does not always review "the usual suspects," but rather, a swath of Canadian poets who have been working hard for years often without accolades or awards. The result is a critical constellation by which outline we can read Dalton as a cultural commentator on national literature, and is the kind of literary constellation that every reviewer should aspire to creating with their own critical oeuvre." Tanis MacDonald Malahat Review
"I’ve hardly yet begun to talk about the intersections I know are possible between prose and poetry, the great interest I—and so many others—have in hybridity." Camille Dungy Triquarterly
"Culture is less a series of peaceable, adjacent neighbourhoods, each inhabited by different art forms, than a jungle in which various animals claim whatever territory is there for the taking. It’s possible that poets can trail along foxlike behind the massive tiger of popular music, occasionally plucking a few choice hairs from its coat both to demonstrate their superiority and to make themselves look a bit tigerish. With Dylan’s Nobel, we saw what happens when the big cat turns around." David Orr NYT
"Chuck Berry’s forceful and witty lyrics are not great poetry in any dimension, but they are hugely memorable, and known to millions by heart because of the way they are embedded in the music, and that music is embedded in our memories and lives. If even 100,000 people could quote Walcott by heart today, that would be surprising." Guardian
"Derek Walcott offered students a dangerous place to write, and he taught them to find many voices, especially voices of the past. He was not in the business of signing permission slips. His partner, Sigrid Nama, who is the quintessence of tact and warmth, told me early on that “Derek can’t schmooze, can’t lie, and has no small talk.”" Bert Almon • The Walrus
"It could be said that Feinstein is the curious child loving blossom and mosses, still eager in her disguise as the “girl / with wet feet and muddy skirt”, hurrying in her new poem Delusions of the Retina to “welcome another year into my garden”." Martina Evans Irish Times
"Doig couldn’t have asked for a more daunting appraiser than the eighty-seven-year-old Nobel laureate. No one has scrutinized the Caribbean with more devotion, sensitivity, and protectiveness than Walcott, a St. Lucian poet, playwright, and painter who has made its landscape the touchstone of his art. He flew to Montreal in 2014 for Doig’s exhibition “No Foreign Lands,” urged by the French editor Harry Jancovici, who after reading Walcott on Caribbean painting proposed a joint project. It began with the artist steering Walcott through the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, watching from behind his wheelchair as he evaluated each painting, inaugurating the series of exchanges that would become Morning, Paramin." Julian Lucas NYRB
"The house governs the poetics of space (inflected by time – and eventually Riemann’s geometry provides a model for Einstein’s space-time); the road and river govern a poetics of time (inflected by space – for we must all go home again, whether we can or can’t, in fact or in imagination, sooner or later). And what child does not thrill to the romance of departure, which is after all what eventually he or she prepares to do." Emily Grosholz PN Review
"At the same time, some people really want poems — specifically poems written in the first person — to be about someone and something “real,” and they can feel cheated when the poem isn’t. There needs to be a different way of talking about it aside from “autobiography.” I’m interested in how Sharon Olds has spoken about her work as being “apparently personal.” The things of her poems do seem like her “real life,” but she didn’t used to own up to that. But even then — I say “own up” as if I’m accusing her of not admitting something." Emily Berry • LARB
"And among the many classics on [California-based website, allpoetry.com] is Patrick Kavanagh’s epic, The Great Hunger. This is a grim portrait of the Irish rural condition, circa 1942, seen through the words and thoughts of unmarried farmer Patrick Maguire. But for our purposes, the relevant extract is where Maguire – as quoted by the website, asterisks and all – says this: “Is that Cassidy’s *** out in my clover? Curse o’ God/Where is that dog?”" Frank McNally Irish Times
"“The Seaside Cemetery” is Derek Mahon’s translation (included in his collection Harbour Lights, 2005) of Valéry’s “Le Cimetière Marin”. In it he Valéry faces an objective, unresponsive world on which his thinking can make no impact, and is tempted to join those who “have long ago arrived” at death’s conclusion. But this world calls him back." Andrew McCulloch TLS
"He wanted musicality in his 1950s novels, experimental prose poetry and the self-invented free form haikus he called “American Pops”. The elegiac passages concluding On the Road (1957) and “October in the Railroad Earth” have long been celebrated for the flowing rhythmic beauty of their wordplays. But his modern jazz-inspired improvisational poetics took far longer to gain recognition, even though his friends Allen Ginsberg and Michael McClure, and the youthful Bob Dylan, were early advocates for Mexico City Blues, the latter calling it “the first poetry that spoke my own language”." Jules Smith TLS
"No-one has been more interestingly unhappy than Houellebecq." Rob Doyle Irish Times
"Watts has described being drawn to animals: “their un-self consciousness and their (in the main) indifference to me is liberating.” It seems that against the backdrop of the natural world, Watts finds the freedom to probe unsettling thoughts and emotions." Lucy Winrow • The Manchester Review
"As Marinetti wrote in the Futurist manifesto: ‘Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute.’ Libertarians, like the Futurists, loathe the past, which they associate with the natural world: the future is artificial, and they want to own it." Jay Griffiths • Aeon
"Between them, the nuthatch form a quadrangular space in the hedge and it reminds me of what Eliot called, “…the intersection of the timeless moment/ Is England and nowhere.” The gidding of nuthatch fly off across a field where redwings, too agitated about leaving to be counted, call constantly to each other with a question: When? And they complete Eliot’s line, “Never and always.”" Paul Evans Guardian
"The truth is, there is no “proper” subject for poetry. All of life is its subject. Nothing should be out of bounds." Max Wallis • Guardian
"This is an extraordinarily rich book from a young poet who is already able to make phrases dance and vibrate. He is skilled with prose poems, open form and the placement of short lines. And that technical range is allied with a hugely fertile imagination to create a book which is often unputdownable." Ian Pople • Manchester Review
"You don't need to know what Modernism did to poetry to feel how the project of twenty-first-century life means following through on the great social changes of the twentieth century—you just need to check Facebook and see how many times we need to be liked to get up in the morning." Katie Peterson • Poetry Daily
"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
"Twombly reads both Seferis and Rilke in translation – the latter in Stephen Mitchell’s rendition of The Duino Elegies – as he reads Horace and Virgil in translation. And there, I’m afraid, is the rub." Marjorie Perloff • TLS
"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


New poems

Rebecca Perry The Scores

Anne Carson New Yorker

Claire Askew The Literateur

Joey Connolly The Manchester Review

Maurice Riordan The Scores

Amy Key New Statesman

Chase Twitchell Massachusetts Review

Ange Mlinko Poetry

Laura Scott PN Review

Nuar Alsadir Granta

Charles Simic Threepenny Review

Stephen Sexton Financial Times

Frederick Seidel Paris Review

Roy Fisher The Poetry Archive

Richard Osmond Guardian

Derek Mahon Irish Times

Vincenz Serrano High Chair

Michael Hofmann New Yorker

Susan Barba Poetry

Stevie Howell Southword

Daisy Fried Threepenny Review

Rachael Allen Poetry london

Michael Symmons Roberts The Manchester Review

Emily Berry The Morning Star

Janet Rogerson Manchester Review

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



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