The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"If I never hear “If—” or “Invictus” again, I won't be unhappy." Willard Spiegelman • Wall Street Journal

"She is an empress of credentials, an avatar of all-the-right-moves: grew up trilingual (speaking primarily Italian and French into her late teens), was asked to leave the Sorbonne amid the student protests of 1968, got an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, has taught for years at Harvard." Jeff Gordinier • New York Times

"In the middle of these contradictions around Black relations to the land as the mythic basis of US national identity, the most popular African American poet in the wake of Reconstruction, Albery Allson Whitman, wrote vast lyric epic romances about frontier history in which Black and Native characters take center stage." Matt Sandler • LitHub

"I am in favour of abundance, whether temporal, aesthetic or social. We can create abundance for each other." Lisa Robertson • Cordite Poetry Review

"An impoverished homosexual, Cavafy lived on the margins of Alexandrian society. A meeting with the famous English writer E. M. Forster at the Alexandria Sporting Club turned out to be fortunate for his literary career and legacy." Gretchen McCullough • LARB

"As with her groundbreaking Citizen, Rankine’s latest work blends essays, photographs, poetry, erasures. What should be noted, though, is the shift in focus in her titles: whereas Citizen (2014) and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004) were each subtitled “An American Lyric”, Just Us is “An American Conversation”." Seán Hewitt The Irish Times
"I’m not sure the qualities of writing in age can be tabulated or synthesized. One wouldn’t want to be dogmatic about it, and of course one has always liked and even loved interesting and striking work composed at any stage, at any phase, and even work of which one doesn’t know offhand the age. (It was Joseph Brodsky who had the idea that the writer’s age—the age of the writer at the time of writing—should be prominently displayed somewhere on the work.)" Michael Hofmann • The Baffler

"It is true that Irish writers no longer stand out against the society generally for their dissident views of religion or sexuality. Is it then a good thing for writers now to feel much more at home in a drastically imperfect country? For example, in the final “Coda” devoted largely to an analysis of the positive influence of The Irish Times on Irish literature, Reynolds states that the paper was “founded in the nineteenth century with a moderate nationalist Protestant bent”, but that is it is now “a generally progressive newspaper, one with neoliberal sympathies”. Reynolds herself seems to be at ease with this “neoliberalism”. However, we might interrogate the connections between such politics and the operation of the literary scene that The Irish Times supports (assuming that the paper is not so different from other publishers or state bodies). What becomes of literature when image, social media presence and incessant competition for publicity, awards and grants are the order of the day?" Emer Nolan DRB
"In an interview some years ago [Colette] Bryce stated that she believed that a poem “was no good if it doesn’t have emotional truth”. Emotional truth is the holding glue in Bryce’s poetry – whether she is returning to her early years in the North or reporting from the wider world of her imagination." Gerry Smyth DRB
"Compression, stillness and plainness are largely absent; quick shifts, volubility and references to Barthes are fully present (there are four pages of endnotes for the 105 pages of poetry here). You might suppose this would result in a little too much self-conscious literariness, but Solie tempers her lines with good humor and an attractive populism. If she’s going to write about the nature of truth, she’s going to involve an “AEG 365 washer/dryer”; if she’s going to write about solitude, she’s also going to talk about “short-term RVers” trying to park to see Leonard Knight’s gloriously weird Salvation Mountain in the California desert." David Orr • NYT

"The first woman to hold the title of poet laureate of Jamaica, Goodison’s singularity as a writer lies in her belief in the micro-resistances of domestic life: she infuses the everyday with “salt and light,” turning mundane acts into transformative rituals." Kate Siklosi • The Walrus

"Vasilisa Palianina and her husband, Andrey, are in their Minsk apartment listening out for footsteps on the stairs. They fear that the police might be coming." Valzhyna Mort • Financial Times

"I found myself walking past 44 Morton Street for old times’ sake. The super was outside, hosing down the sidewalk, and when I looked in through the ground-floor window, I could see the whole apartment was open and under renovation. Since no one seemed to be around, I asked if I might walk down the alley to the back garden onto which Brodsky’s former living room–study opened. I figured that just seeing the trees and brickwork patio would be a comfort, but then I saw, standing outside, awaiting disposal, the refrigerator from the old apartment, its door removed and leaning against the wall, and inside its exposed cavity the abandoned travel carrier for Brodsky’s cat, Mississippi, a name he gave it because he thought cats liked sibilants far more than fricatives. All I could think of was what the poet had told me in “A Part of Speech,” right from the start: "Only sound needs echo and dreads its lack. / A glance is accustomed to no glance back." Peter Filkins The American Scholar
"I was raised in a Rastafarian family in the countryside, hours away by winding road from Kingston, a place that even in the Eighties folks still simply called “town.” Throughout my boyhood in Portland and St. Thomas parishes, on the cane and banana farms that entrapped imaginations on the eastern coast, Ethiopia existed as the future fulfillment of our tragic slave past." Ishion Hutchinson • Harper's

"Simonides is known as the first poet to accept payment for his poems, and so found himself often in the company (employment) of tyrants, wealthy merchants, ancestral aristocrats. He lived a long life, perhaps into his early nineties, which instilled in him a worldliness that runs counter to romantic ideals of who and what a poet should be. Hiero’s wife, asking Simonides if it’s better to be wealthy or wise, is told “wealthy; for I see the wise spending their days at the doors of the wealthy.”" Dan Beachy-Quick • Lapham's Quarterly

"This is a generous selection of Neruda’s work. It contains the politically engaged nostalgia that Neruda used when looking at and back on his native Chile and the other places he travelled in, in an important life both as a diplomat and an exile. His poem, ‘London’ adumbrates what was clearly an unhappy stay in a London that also comes across as a police state. These are rangy poems and Neruda is not afraid to sprawl and chew things over. Towards the end of the book are a number of poems from his last volumes which are just as political and personal as the earlier poems." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"Many poems in The Gilded Auction Block address the US directly, alongside its president. The idea is in a great tradition (think of Allen Ginsberg’s America, Danez Smith’s Dear White America or even, in its less embattled way, Walt Whitman’s One Song, America, Before I Go). The collection opens with The President Visits the Storm, demonstrating Trump’s imperviousness towards the victims of Hurricane Harvey. A few pages in, Everything I Know About Blackness I Learned from Donald Trump almost does not need the poem to unpack its title. The sense, throughout, is of an America with selective hearing and Trump as a complacently grotesque Goliath, against whom a poet must aim a particularly sharp stone." Kate Kellaway Observer
"But there’s a profound difference in the voices of Heaney’s and Headley’s translations. Heaney’s narrator is a serious, gray-bearded storyteller, rendering the Old English “þæt wæs god cyning” as “a good king he!”; Headley’s is a fratty youngster eager to get pumped on tales of warfare, impatient with archaic forms. “You know how it is: every castle wants invading,” he says. Her narrator’s tone is light and suspenseful, resembling nothing so much as a man telling a long but compelling story in a bar." Jo Livingston Poetry
"Reading Moritz’s work is like discovering new outcroppings of ruins that are nevertheless traceable to the same civilization." Carl Watts • HA&L

"Currier remembers how often Hall fell. One morning in winter, as she checked the farmhouse from her north window, she noticed his car had been warming up for a long time. When she went up to check, she found Hall lying in the driveway beside the car, unable to get up. Another day, as she entered the house, she heard him calling out in panic from the floor on the far side of his bed. Unable to lift him because of her own disability, she talked him into a position from which he could get himself up." Wesley McNair • Paris Review

"As a young poet, in another place and another era, I would send out new poems, damp and fragile from their chrysalis, to prominent magazines, in envelopes with self-addressed stamped envelopes inside them. Every day, going to the mailbox was an agony of anticipation. Seeing my own handwriting on the envelope would send me into wild swings of hope and despair. There was absolutely nothing more thrilling than an envelope with an acceptance and a contract, nothing more deflating than my own typescript sent home in disgrace." A.E. Stallings • The American Scholar

"Usually, I begin with the bare minimum of necessary facts. I try to avoid error if I’m writing about an historical person’s lived experience. But I try to sustain as much gray area in my own mind as possible — I try to sustain unknowing parallel to knowing — so as to allow myself to invent within the parameters of what I know." Shane McCrae • Chicago Review of Books

"Vicki Feaver’s I Want, I Want takes as its starting point William Blake’s illustration of a tiny naked child with its foot on a ladder to the moon, crying, “I Want! I Want!” A perfect illustration for the immensity of human desire erupts from us ‘bare forked’ animals. In Feaver’s case, the desire is for climbing the ladder of social and academic success." Martina Evans The Irish Times
"The book’s closing image is Pound, free in 1959, waiting for the director of a BBC documentary to tell him what to do: a figure whose meaning must be created by someone else. Pound is always only what we make of him. This is the worst of all worlds: a way of accidentally absolving Pound of his sins while dismissing the poetry as at best secondary to the empty vessel of his biography. Swift makes the same mistake many of Pound’s guests did: he visits and expects to learn something. Nearly a century after the New Criticism excised author and context from consideration, we’ve come full circle, subordinating poetry to psychology, politics, and personality. This isn’t Swift’s fault; it’s the condition both of much of what passes for literary criticism and our contemporary notion of poetry as mere “self-expression,” a way to be “heard” in all your “individuality.”" JL Wall The University Bookman
"In a recent essay on the elegy, the poet Stephen Sexton noted ‘the imperceptible change a photograph ... undergoes when someone depicted in it has died; how these images seem, somehow, utterly changed without having changed at all.’ The image came to mind when I first read ‘The Historians’ by Eavan Boland, the title poem of her new, now posthumous collection. Like the photograph, it seems impossible to encounter ‘The Historians’ in this strange summer of recovery without the words being invested with the immense loss of her, to her family, friends, students, peers, and to the readers for whom her poems and scholarship have cast an essential light for so long. The poetry community has been temporarily denied the gathering that would have marked her passing at any other time. On 1 May, the day of her funeral, candles flickered in the windows of readers across Ireland, an improvised lockdown tribute recalled by Geraldine Mitchell in her dedicated poem, ‘Of Fire and Water’." Colette Bryce Poetry Ireland Review
"Gabriel Jospovici has written, in one of his own beautifully modulated essays, about Dante in this context; how the poet knows well the human need to meld a dolce stil nuovo with a familiar, spoken, language to bring complicated and abstract ideas home in fresh individual expression." Kirsty Gunn PN Review
"This isn’t Groarke’s only mode, and not all of her writing attempts to speak in these timeless, folkloric tones. She can also be tongue-in-cheek, second-guessing some of the charges that might be brought, not least in a poem such as “Against Nostalgia,” its title alone a wink to the camera after what’s gone before. Poems such as these show another of Groarke’s strengths: her gift for celebratory empathy. The refrain of “Against Nostalgia” — charmingly histrionic “Oh’s” — runs in deliberate tension with the title." Declan Ryan LARB
"Wiman’s formal dexterity means he is able to carve out the right form for each utterance which makes for a dynamic, dense read. It also makes for a collection that feels hard won, in that it carries within all its shifting shapes an understanding of the absolute effort of faith — of finding it, naming it, doubting it, desiring it — and by extension the absolute effort every poem has to make in order to survive the complexity of its significance." GE Stevens Review 31
"He played a long game and, like his hero Martin Luther King, he had a vision. The veracity of that vision is underlined with every passing year of non-violence in Northern Ireland. In our uneasy moment, when the politics of division are again playing havoc with people’s lives, in the UK and on a global scale, we could do well to remember the philosophy of John Hume, the enduring power of hope over despair." Colette Bryce Irish Times
"[Carl] Phillips depictions of the human condition are formed under conditions of extraordinary acceptance. This is not indifference, but a deeply particularised compassion." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"I imagine you pacing your cell, just as I have done. Feeling with each passing day, the added strain. But I know too, that with each passing day you will reach further into your reserves – reserves that you have always thought finite – and discover strength of which you had never dreamed." Wole Soyinka Humanists International
"Cunard’s relationship with Beckett demonstrates how she was more than simply the means to his publishing ends. His talents served her political ends in turn. In 1934, she enlisted Beckett to translate essays for her landmark work, the Negro Anthology. After censors rejected one of the Beckett-translated essays ahead of publication, Cunard secretly inserted the pages herself while assembling the book. This anti-racist anthology comprises, in Anna Girling’s words, “one of the most comprehensive pre-Civil Rights era documents of transatlantic black history and culture”." Maurice J Casey Irish Times
"Quick to craft and consume, poetry is uniquely placed as a cultural form to offer catharsis for current readers, as well as a unique documentation of tensions for future ones." Katy Shaw New Statesman

"Walcott also tried to write during his time in New York, but it would be some years before he achieved the detachment necessary for him to be able to coherently set down his complex, troubled feelings about the city. In the poem “A Village Life,” he makes clear that it was never easy for him to properly establish a work routine. He was perpetually short of money, fed up with enduring a harsh winter shrouded in a large overcoat, and always homesick. Somewhat ironically, he later remembered “a snowfall of torn poems piling up,/heaped by a rhyming spade,” but little of the poetry he actually wrote in New York ever found its way into print." Caryl Phillips NYRB
"Spenser wrote “The Faerie Queene” while working as a high-level British colonial administrator in Ireland, implementing brutal tactics of oppression against the native population. Virgil wrote the “Aeneid” in the first years of the Roman Empire, as Augustus attempted to reshape his image from that of a ruthless, warmongering autocrat to that of a beneficent leader. The “Odyssey” was composed around the end of the 8th century B.C., close to a century before Greek city-states began to develop the first form of democracy." Talya Zax NYT
"The sense of place conjured here is not something of which, in James’s poem, Larkin’s imagination is conscious, and the Larkin of James’s poem is certainly not how Larkin saw himself as a writer. In 1965 he wrote to his publisher lamenting the fact that ‘ordinary sane novels about ordinary sane people doing ordinary sane things can’t find a publisher these days’. Such novels represent ‘the tradition of Jane Austen and Trollope’, and Larkin continues: ‘I like to read about people who have done nothing spectacular, who aren’t beautiful or lucky, who try to behave well in the limited field of activity they command, but who can see, in little autumnal moments of vision, that the so called “big” experiences of life are going to miss them; and I like to read about such things presented not with self pity or despair or romanticism, but with realistic firmness and even humour’." Simon Petch Sydney Review of Books
"“In dreams”, wrote W.B. Yeats, “begins responsibility”. But who wants to be responsible for baked wooden pallets?" Fintan O'Toole Irish Times
"The road to the internet is paved with literature." Michael Farrell Sydney Review of Books
"It feels like anything is possible when it comes to poetry right now, so I want to capture how poets are creating or making the most of those possibilities. I want drama to get in the ring with dumb jokes, and landscapes to mingle with pop culture references. But ultimately I’ll be looking for poems that I can’t wait to tell everybody about". Chris Tse The Spinoff
"One of [The Candlelight Master's] finest moments is "After Amergin", recounting the original Irish poet’s first step onto Irish shores, as recounted in the Book of Invasions (though an end-note claims it as part of the Ulster Cycle). [Michael] Longley’s version introduces a dozen new images, incorporates motifs used throughout the collection (especially, the otter and the burial mound), and also operates as a reflection on his part in the spiralling and continuing poetic influences of his generation’s work." John McAuliffe The Irish Times
"“Not every sound/is a voice not every breath is a self,” a nameless speaker in Nobody observes. In defying the familiar links between sound, voice, breath, and self, [Alice] Oswald has created an intransigent body of work that is more interested in questions than answers, fractures than perfection, risks than security." Kit Fan Poetry
"Eight years after Stan Smith’s review she first contributed to PN Review, issue 41: the poem ‘Listen: this is the Noise of Myth’. She did some reviewing, and then came the transformative contributions, starting with the poem ‘Outside History’, followed six months later by an essay of the same title. It was writing that changed me, ‘and I took those changes with me into my life, where they continue to instruct it’. In all, she contributed to the magazine forty-seven times in her own voice. I cannot say how many times she is present by suggestion or simply by her example, which persists." Michael Schmidt PN Review
"When he taught a course at the University of California, Berkeley in 1971, Sun Ra's syllabus included The Egyptian Book of the Dead; the theosophical works of Madame Blavatsky, the nineteenth-century Russian medium; Henry Dumas, a brilliant poet gunned down by New York City Transit Police in 1968. He often cited George G.M. James’s Stolen Legacy (1954), which claimed that Greek philosophy had filched its ideas from Egyptian mythology." Namwali Serpell NYRB
"Stephen Dedalus agonised over using the language of the oppressor, but we can’t imagine the pain of losing language through the systematic, brutal separation of children from their parents. Only a handful of elders were able to transmit the Mohave language when Diaz returned to her community in 2013 to work on saving it. Her sense of community, like her fine collaborations with Ada Limón, are part of a particular Native American generosity." Martina Evans The Irish Times
"This fulfils a crucial task for culture: to reflect on oppression, without repeating the oppression. Miller surpasses expectations for a book to be about something, as if a book’s purpose were merely to convey information, or to create an experience. To read In Nearby Bushes is to be guided into thinking through things, however uncomfortable or uncanny. Poet and reader venture into the realm where “the bushes shiver” in “the sign of some other life behind the leaves, another world inside this world.” Vahni Capildeo Newsday
"Later Emperors is a lyrical book, somber yet lovely. Rare among works of poetry today, it offers not only beauty but also a wisdom rooted in time and timelessness." Benjamin Myers • World Literature Today

"Critics have been raising eyebrows about book-length conceits recently. A series of infantile and imbecilic funding strictures put in place by the Research Excellence Framework system at UK universities has incentivised poets to focus in depth on one subject across a whole book, or section of a book, since this provides a more ‘quantifiable’ sense of the ‘worth’ and ‘impact’ of their poetry. The effect has been to homogenise and flatten the output of many poets. I have never met or read or even heard a whispered rumour of a poet who approves of this system. But small objections like that don’t hold much water with funding bodies." John Phipps The London Magazine
""The Sparrows of Butyrka" was written between 11 and 20 December 1981. Irina and her husband had been arrested in Pushkin Square, Moscow, and given 10-day sentences for taking part in a demonstration of support for Andrei Sakharov. Irina was already known to the authorities; she had been fired from her first job as a primary school teacher for opposing antisemitism. Deeply influenced by her Polish grandmother, she followed the Catholic faith. She saw Poland rather than Russia or the Ukraine (she was born in Odessa) as her true motherland." Carol Rumens Guardian
"The German says: “auf den Wiesen der sanft gewellten Landschaft.” On the meadows or grass of the gently rolling scenery. It’s a description of a cemetery. I just have “the gently contoured lawn.” It’s a little shorter, a little more practical. The German says: “auch die Kritik wurde darauf aufmerksam.” Something like: even the critics paid it attention. I put: “Even the reviewers seemed to sit up.” It puts a little tone into it, a little shop, a little self-deprecation. I think “seemed“ is useful to Peter, where there’s lots of doubt to go around." Michael Hofmann Asymptote
"It’s worth noting that Heaven bears an epigraph from the poet Antonio Machado (b. 1875, d. 1939) : “Tus ojos me recuerdan/las noches de verano.” (Your eyes remind me/of summer nights). Heat has a rock ‘n’ roll epigraph in English, attributed to The Who: “I ain’t gone away yet.” The two epigraphs capture, in a few strokes, both the lyricism and the humorous endurance that the poems embody." Jennifer Barber The Critical Flame
"The Earl of Surrey invented blank verse by translating Virgil; Milton trained to be Milton by translating Latin poets, then translating his own verse into Latin; when Auden wanted to adapt Marianne Moore's syllabics to his own sense of line, he turned to Alkman's meter (alcaics, also adapted into Latin by Horace); and to this day, reading classics at Oxbridge is a conventional start to a poetry career." Ange Mlinko • NYRB

"Edmond draws from, yet finds limitations with, currently fashionable world literature theories. For Edmond, world systems theories highlight the “unequal power distribution that drives peripheral literatures to copy the centre”; by contrast, circulation theories underscore the “non-hierarchical movement of copies of texts and literary forms across languages and cultures” (8). Make It the Same, however, refuses the polarities of these positions; instead, Edmond’s readings—particularly of texts by Brathwaite, Yang Lian, Som, Stalling, and Hsia Yü—reflect a disposition that “privileges neither origins nor centres, as in world systems theory, nor diversity and heterogeneity, as in circulation or relational theories of world literature”. Put differently, Edmond views poetry informed by the iterative turn as a site of contestations and negotiations: poetry is not an index of the authority of advanced cultural centres acting on a marginal poet worrying about being belated and derivative. Nor is poetry a demonstration of the unfettered agency of a dispossessed poet claiming triumphant singularity. Rather, iterative poetry negotiates between these two positions, and is characterised by a restlessness akin to Brathwaite’s tidalectics: “moving outward from the centre to the circumference and back again: a tidal dialectics”. Thus, by interrogating “concepts that inform literary study on a global scale, including originality and belatedness, national location, and the boundaries of literature itself, which now blur” into other cultural and media forms, Edmond widens the scope of his analysis.' Vincenz Serrano Cha
"Each poem is a go-between: it is through poetry that worlds meet and converse. In #family, she shifts between hospital and home, the clinical and domestic, between actual and metaphorical fracture. The poem is an attempt to graft broken things. In The Shaman, The Servant, she contrasts her grandfather’s life as a revered shaman with hers as a slighted UK nurse, accused by one patient of stealing her job." Kate Kellaway Observer
"Seasons and weather are subject to intense depictions, and while this intensity might be understood to be a feature of the poet’s voice, it also speaks of the ecological situation we find ourselves in – of unpredictable meteorological extremes." Isabel Galleymore The Scores
"Once again Olds is engaged in a permissive poetics which expands the field by offering poems ‘about’ the full range of lived experience and especially the lived experience of the woman who speaks these poems. It is here that the poems become uncomfortable and, in these poems, discomfort is a wonderfully generative space." Kayo Chingonyi The Poetry Review
"Those in power keep invoking “the normal” as in “when we get back to normal.” I’ve developed an aversion to that word normal. Of course, I understand the more benign meanings of normal; having dinner with friends, going to the movies, going back to work (not so benign). However, I have never used it with any confidence in the first place; now, I find it noxious." Dionne Brand • Toronto Star

"Nowadays, epic poetry is banished and bookshelves groan with memoir and nature-autobiographies. It’s hard to imagine a time before their existence. Indeed, we may have come too far with our “I” – in her 2019 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the novelist Olga Tokarczuk said that the sheer success of the first person narrator was “akin to a choir made up of soloists only, voices competing for attention, all travelling similar routes, drowning one another out”. But in 1806, it was unheard of for a poet to explore his own self-development. This self-creating was quite new." Kathleen Jamie New Statesman
"Campus poems are intended perhaps for the community of poets and likeminded souls outside the academy; to share a joke, often half against themselves. They may not take themselves too seriously (if a campus poet were an instrument it would be a tiny violin)." Anna Woodford The Poetry Review
"One of the things I love about winning the TS Eliot prize is that I am so black. I didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge, I am the only black in the literary village." Roger Robinson Guardian
"My father certainly thought there was something in the idea that coronavirus showed children’s hidden instincts towards their parents. Back in Prague, he was writing poetry on the subject. He’s been a poet all his life, but his radio career had meant that he was only able to produce one book or so per year. Now, hemmed in between retirement and the plague, he was tinkling out a books’ worth in a month." Peter Pomerantsev Granta
"As an M.F.A. student, Ngai maintained a commitment to what one reviewer called “a fairly extreme mode of poetry.” Her poems are jargony, enigmatic. Dashes stretch across the page. In a poem called “My Novel,” Ngai writes of “a meadow full of pronouns … a scene of necessary doubling, where language was rising with the pressure of heat.” Where we might expect to find natural objects — flowers in a meadow, hot air rising — we find only language. What Ngai came to desire, but did not achieve until after she finished her Ph.D., was to get away from that field of words, that inescapable “doubling” between signifiers and signified. “I started to realize,” Ngai told me, “I wasn’t that interested in bringing everything back to language. I wanted to use that insight to go somewhere else.”" Charlie Tyson Chronicle of Higher Ed
"Shiki had studied English, admired Abraham Lincoln for his self-sacrifice to his principles, and loved to play baseball. But Shiki was also a passionate scholar and practitioner of traditional Japanese and Chinese poetic forms. He shrewdly countered Anglo-American modernism—with its emphasis on the spare, the fragmentary, and the suggestive (and, in Ezra Pound’s case a decade later, an Orientalist interest in Confucianism and the Chinese written character)—by promoting a Japanese alternative steeped in tradition but laced with contemporary experience. “As it spills over / In the autumn breeze, how red it looks— / My tooth powder!”" Christopher Benfey NYRB
"She started attending classes taught by the feminist poet Kathleen Fraser, who encouraged Bellamy to look into a writing group led by the poet Robert Glück at Small Press Traffic in the Mission District. These weekly workshops became a place for writers who were disillusioned with the then-popular Language Poets, whose work emphasized a stark division between the writer of a piece and its voice. This new group challenged that division, inserting subjectivity into the text and playing with, as Milks writes, “the possibilities of loosely autobiographical storytelling to produce an exploded and unstable ‘I.’”" Claire Mullen The Nation
"I love this sentence by Carl Phillips in The Art of Daring, "Who can say which is better, the glory of foliage or the truth of what's left when the leaves fall away."" Ada Limon jubilat
"TOn one level, then, what we might call the ethos of erudition (an Erudite-geist?) may be simply the latest iteration of a poetic tradition always seeking new ways to convey complex and disorienting experience; it is a tradition that has long stood in counterpoint to prevalent discourse, playing on its imperialist language. Black poets’ current zeal for formal innovation, manifesting as it often does in an urge to appropriate scientific lexicons, heralds the desire for an imaginative agency profoundly informed, but not bound, by its markers of identity." Jerome Ellison Murphy The Yale Review
"Christopher Reid’s Not Funny Any More features ‘The Great Turnip’ and no prizes for guessing who that turnip might be." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"One of my mentors, a black female poet of Wanda’s generation, recently flatly said, “She was mean.” She could be mean. It was a sharpness she honed over her years outside the care of poetry collectives, coalitions, and institutions. Her poems often record the mood of one who feels exiled, discounted, neglected. Imagine how mean the famously mean Miles Davis might have been had no one taken his horn playing seriously, and you will have a sense of Wanda’s rage." Terrance Hayes • The Paris Review

"Fuller’s also a cult figure. His poetry is read and respected by all the smarties at the University of Chicago. One time I went to a thing downtown after a friend’s reading, some kind of dinner deal, and Fuller was there, and my friend could barely breathe, perceiving Fuller had actually attended her reading. She was all “That’s William Fuller?!?” It was like somebody had told her George Oppen had come back from the dead and gone to her reading." Anthony Madrid • Rhino

"The Trinity poet (and I call her that most advisedly) Ethna MacCarthy was a vivacious, spirited, brilliant presence in the lives of three very important male figures in Dublin’s literary world." Thomas McCarthy • Dublin Review of Books

"The opening lines of Hope Mirrlees’s poem Paris plunge the reader in place and personal experience. “I want a holophrase”, it begins, and perhaps that is what the whole work is trying to be, for a holophrase is a single word that stands for a complex idea." Erica Wagner • New Statesman

"Born late in the fourth century ACE, Claudius Claudianus has long been considered the last of the classical Roman poets, a title he earned not only due to the era of rapid decay he witnessed, but for his poetry’s subject matter, some of which he devoted to the mixed-race general Stilicho, whom Gibbon called the last of the Romans." André Naffis-Sahely • Wild Court

"During my research for The Kenyon Review, I found that John Crowe Ransom, in general an excellent, open-minded editor, had one crucial blind spot. He published very few women writers, having argued in his often-quoted (in)famous essay about Edna St. Vincent Millay, “The Poet as Woman,” (1936) that a woman is “[l]ess pliant, safer as a biological organism” than a man and as such “indifferent to intellectuality.”" Marian Jansen • Berfrois

"The result is an unexpectedly contemporary volume that makes startlingly plain how civilisations are so often doomed to repeat themselves, be it through corruption, ambition, ineptitude or desire. “Look at me, Maximin shouts, look / what I can do”: we draw our own parallels when the poet reflects that “his body is taut but has no purpose / than to flex and recover”. Elsewhere, the poems are able to speak with a philosophical directness in adopting ancient voices, but also with the intimacy of the diary entry or letter." Ben Wilkinson Guardian
"He swerves to effect: his shrewd sideways and backwards glances count, pouring light on a subject from several directions simultaneously. Any given moment is likely to be underpinned by what went on before or what is to come. He knows the power of parallel universes. The willow pollen and honeysuckle are barely seen but should not be overlooked. They are irrelevant and crucial." Kate Kellaway Observer

"For all they have to hype and glad-hand each other, poets compete, now as ever, for non-poets’ attention. That competition’s like a sea, all too often draining them of colour, in which they can be smoothed and cut down to size. The public then combs a shore of innumerable pebbles, each of which proclaims itself a gem. Francis seems to have resisted that homogenization, and held out for his own particular shape." Graeme Richardson TLS
"These people find their rage in the disruption of their comfort. “Won’t someone please think of the Arby’s?” seems like a very weird place to put your concern. What America are you mourning? Target wasn’t in the fields, cotton-bloodied hands. Walmart never hung from a tree." Danez Smith • New Yorker

"One could write a history of modern Greece through the funerals of poets. The national poet Kostis Palamas died during the German Occupation and his funeral, attended by 100,000 mourners, turned into an anti-Nazi protest. Likewise, when the Nobel laureate George Seferis died in 1971, with Greece under the dictatorship of a military junta, thousands followed his coffin through the streets to the cemetery, singing his poem “Denial”, which had been set to music by Theodorakis." A.E. Stallings • TLS

"Manchester is a central character here, its rooms and streets luminous, often ominous under the intensity of McAuliffe’s gaze. The Manchester Arena bombing is the incendiary centre in "City of Trees", tree pollen erupting in “slow green explosions”. Prophetic uncertainty shivers right through this subtly linked seamless collection, building to the final "Blown Away", a mere tent which the narrator failed to secure." Martina Evans Irish Times
"He’s the armadillo of poetry: armored, elusive, prehistoric, a survivor." Christian Wiman Poetry
"Not everyone cared for Whitman’s fleshy frankness back in the day." David Wheatley • Literary Review

"In the Dominican Republic,” my Dominican friend Silvio Torres-Saillant told me at the time, “no one lays a more legitimate claim to intimacy with the yearnings of the Dominican people as well as with the texture of their collective voice than Pedro Mir." Jonathan Cohen • Asymptote

"My thirteen-year-old daughter had no opinion about The Last Straw as a title but tells me that The Sea Field is ‘a terrible title for a book’. Of all of our household she is the one who knows the actual Sea Field best. To her mind there is nothing metaphorical about it. (A friend who has studied English points out that it is an oxymoron, which reminds me that Oscar Wilde considered ‘Royal Irish Academy’ to be a triple oxymoron)." Tom French Books Ireland
"During the sentencing, Crown attorney Jennifer Ferguson adopted a highly unusual tactic—exhibiting verse as evidence. The poem offered up was, according to Ferguson, based on an incident in the life of Francis’s wife, whose home, in the judge’s words, appeared “to have been a torture chamber.”" Anita Lahey • The Walrus

"Not long after news of his father’s illness reached WB Yeats in Dublin, the Spanish flu came even closer to home when his heavily pregnant, 27-year-old wife, George, was struck down. At that time, the couple, who had married in 1917, were renting Maud Gonne’s house at 73 St Stephen’s Green. It was an alarming time for the Yeats family as the Spanish flu took a surprisingly heavy toll on younger people between 15 and 40, who accounted for almost half of the total deaths recorded." Daniel Mulhall Irish Times
"Their meanings are often elusive, not so much puzzling as hard to pin down very definitely, working as they do through suggestion rather than statement and lending themselves to different levels of interpretation, often set in motion by the gentlest of hints. To me, such a hovering between meanings is a pleasure in itself, in the context of a short poem, and given the remarkable clarity of form and verbal grace of Valéry’s writing." Edmund Prestwich The Manchester Review
"The Edward Hirsch who emerges in his poems is helpful, courteous, kind, brave, clean, and a little guilt-ridden—in other words, a Boy Scout mensch with some tragedy in him." William Logan • New Criterion

"This to me is allowing an actual injury to pass and punishing a symbolic and technical transgression instead. It is being offended by something in print, and not in life. [...] One begins to see a pattern emerging – of restrictiveness, fussiness and oversensitivity. Hardwick, on the issue of the letters in the poems, began by saying to Lowell, “The matter of your work is yours entirely and I don’t think you have it in your power to ‘hurt’ me”. Then, when the book came out, she was hurt. Much later, it became a matter for banter between them. " Michael Hofmann TLS
"For Miriam Lord, an Irish Times columnist and humorist, it was too much. “The taoiseach has succumbed completely to the Heaney bug and is now a super-spreader … Leo must poetically distance himself immediately. Because this thing is infectious.”" Rory Carroll Guardian
"So where the Book of Job ends with the unjustly suffering Job silent in adoration, the Book of Jonah ends with Jonah mired in perplexity. It has been said that there is no humour in the Bible. Humour doesn’t necessarily come in guffaws. We are left to consider the scene, as Jehovah spells out his rationale for sparing the inhabitants of Nineveh: although humans can’t tell their right hand from their left the city is also full of ‘much cattle’ which merit consideration. Cattle are dumb and don’t talk back." Iain Bamforth PN Review
"While the concept of self-isolation may be less of a stretch for poets, whose work has always necessitated solitude, it is nonetheless other to the nature of poetry, which is to connect and connect (a tenet central to the work of Poetry Ireland). The mind-mapping impulse inherent to image-making, where one thing links unexpectedly to another, may remind us of molecular patterns of connection, that everything is in everything else." Colette Bryce Poetry Ireland Review
"[Wanda] Coleman won an Emmy, in 1976, for her writing on the daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” and wrote an episode of the much rerun buddy-cop show “Starsky & Hutch.” Soon she devoted herself more fully to her own writing and performing. Her first full-length book of poetry, “Mad Dog Black Lady,” appeared in 1979, and was followed by a dozen or so more, as well as short stories, essays, and a novel." Dan Chiasson • New Yorker

"Our professors had a great deal invested in novels and poems; and it was probably even the case that, at some point, they had loved them. But they had convinced themselves that to justify the “study” of literature it was necessary to immunize themselves against this love, and within the profession the highest status went to those for whom admiration and attachment had most fully morphed into their opposites. Their hatred of literature manifested itself in their embrace of theories and methods that downgraded and instrumentalized literary experience, in their moralistic condemnation of the literary works they judged ideologically unsound, and in their attempt to pass on to their students their suspicion of literature’s most powerful imaginative effects." Jon Baskin the Point
"Reminiscent of one of this century’s great elegies, Denise Riley’s A Part Song, The M Pages is similarly probing, hurt and skeptical. Bryce is a poet of great assurance, and this sequence alone makes the book a necessary addition to the library of readers interested in contemporary Irish writing." John McAuliffe Irish Times
"The poems will come later, when the suffering has sifted down from shared experience to solitary aftermath. When it is felt more in the singular than the plural, poetry will be one of the ways we try to understand what has happened to us." Vona Groarke Cambridge Reflections
"The life of the poem lies in the fusion of these gleanings with Empson’s vivid on the ground observations – most strikingly, ‘the paddy-fields are wings of bees’; and its boldness from the way in which they are subordinated to two conceits. ‘The dragon hatched a cockatrice’, drawn from Isaiah, works from the observation that many features of Japanese culture were absorbed from Tang dynasty China. China is of course the dragon." Diana Bridge PN Review
"Something about the stark language and repetition in the poem grabbed me before I noticed its structure. I appreciated it even more when I saw how the poem was based on the fundamental theorem of arithmetic, which states that every whole number greater than 1 has a unique prime factorization. Glaz composed phrases to represent each prime number and combined them as dictated by each number’s factorization, using “for” for exponentiation and “in” for multiplication." Evelyn Lamb Scientific American
"I am inescapably a pedagogue. And everyone should learn ancient Greek." Anne Carson • LitHub

"Meanwhile Mezey’s poetic style changed; he followed the zeitgeist into free verse. “When I was quite young,” he wrote, “I came under unhealthy influences — Yvor Winters, for example, and America, and my mother, though not in that order.”" Dana Gioia LA Times
"The wasted land that William [Merwin] bought in 1977 is part of an ahupua‘a called Pe‘ahi—the valley and watershed of the Pe‘ahi Stream. When he arrived, the stream had already been dry for over a century, and the land around it stripped of its trees." Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder • Emergence Magazine

"I find Celan’s meetings with Martin Heidegger and Martin Buber (both mentioned in Economy of the Unlost) curious. Surely, he must have anticipated distance in these two deeply distant figures. Plato described love as ‘an intermediate state between possession and deprivation’. It’s not always clear where our affinities lie. But is Celan adding to a storage of distance with his poems inspired by his meetings with Heidegger and Buber." Sarah Byrne Southword
"He sees poetry, rightly I think, as a way of resisting the many forms of violence imposed upon us by technological, commercial and political powers. This is what Wallace Stevens meant by “the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality,” and it can take overtly public form, as it does in some poetry by Yeats, Auden, Heaney, as well as in figures like Haki Madhubuti (formerly Don L. Lee) and Amiri Baraka, or in the sometimes foolish public actions of poets like Robert Frost, as well as in more private, quasi-religious gestures from the likes of Rilke. Burnside’s book is never comprehensive, nor does it attempt to be." David Mason Hudson Review
"The power dynamic sharpens in “Crossing Borders,” with an experience familiar to those of us routinely delayed at checkpoints—I can’t think of another poet who writes so “feelingly” about this, except Seamus Heaney (a Catholic in Northern Ireland, stopped at a roadblock, a sten gun in his face)." Vidyan Ravinthiran • Poetry

New poems

Osip Mandelstam One Hand Clapping

Carl Phillips Yale Review

Dan Chiasson The Yale Review

Sasha Dugdale Guardian

Paul Muldoon The Yale Review

Valzhyna Mort New Yorker

Michael Hofmann Australian Book Review

Marion McCready The Manchester Review

Lucille Clifton Paris Review

Richie Hofmann Sewanee Review

Amit Majmuder New Criterion

Julie O'Callaghan The Irish Times

Jeff Dolven jubilat

Roger Mitchell Mudlark

Vona Groarke Hudson Review

G.C. Waldrep Flag + Void

Maryam Hessavi The Manchester Review

Jeffrey Wainwright The Manchester Review

Thomas Kinsella Irish Times

Vahni Capildeo Anthropocene

Alexandra Watson Scoundrel Time

Madison White Anthropocene

Iulia David The Scores

Susan Stewart Blackbox Manifold

Shane McCrae The Scores

Shane McCrae Granta

Carl Phillips Poetry

Eric Ormsby The Walrus

Iain Twiddy The London Magazine

Joe Carrick-Varty New Statesman

Rachel Long Granta

Naush Sabah Rigorous

Caitriona O'Reilly the High Window / Poetry International

Richard Scott Poetry International

Chad Campbell The Scores

Rachel Long The Poetry Review

Shane McCrae Scoundrel Time

Galway Kinnell Poetry Daily

Anne Haverty Irish Times

James Tate Blackbird

Mícheál McCann Poetry Ireland Review

Alvin Pang Alligatorzine

Tom Sleigh Threepenny Review

Tim Seibles Poetry

Rita Dove Poetry

Bill Manhire Shenandoah

Jamila Woods Poetry

Isabelle Baafi Anthropocene

Ian Pople Poetry

Paul Batchelor Poetry Daily

Evan Jones London Review Bookshop

Dean Young Threepenny Review

James Womack Literary Review

John McAuliffe Irish Times

Fleur Adcock NZ Poetry Shelf

Vahni Capildeo Best Scottish Poems

Nick Laird New Yorker

Eavan Boland New Yorker

Vahni Capildeo PN Review

Paisley Rekdal American Poetry Review

Kay Ryan APR

Eavan Boland New Yorker

Victoria Kennefick Poetry Ireland

Gëzim Hajdari Lincoln Review


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