The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"[Goldsmith] was capable of cherishing authorship as a possible source of independence and respectability, and of reviling it as base enslavement to poor public taste." Aileen Douglas • Irish Times
"The idea that “Australian poetry” exists is not a foregone conclusion, nor yet that a nation — Australia or otherwise — can be 
justified. Certainly, in the age of Wi-Fi, linguistic traditions based on geography, ethnicity, and political allegiances are contestable and 
increasingly difficult to discern. " Bronwyn Lea • Poetry
"However, just as the boy finds his own voice, or rather, his own ‘chats’ – just as Chingonyi names himself in the poem: ‘k to the a to the y to the o’ (26) – culture shifts. Hip hop replaces Garage, one white American voice overpowering many black British voices, and the boy is back to learning someone else’s words. Chingonyi arranges linguistic and rhythmic variations within stanzas that visually resemble prose paragraphs, conveying the experiences of being surrounded, being spoken over, and transposing oneself in an attempt to be heard." Nisha Ramayya • Ambit
"“One of Whitman’s core beliefs was that the body was the basis of democracy,” Mr. Folsom, a professor of English at the University of Iowa, continued. “The series is a hymn to the male body, as well as a guide to taking care of what he saw as the most vital unit of democratic living.”" Jennifer Schuessler • NYT
"In her essay ‘Erotic tendencies’ Lee-Houghton explores this poetry and that of the desiring confessional mode – a mode often dismissed, probably as it is seen as pertaining to women. Lee-Houghton also calls for more interesting poetry of desire from men. I have to say this issue does not include very many cries from the testicles though they are there if you look hard. I approached women writers for the most part because they were the ones I wanted to hear from most keenly. I was interested in the undertold poetry of desire." Nia Davies • Poetry Wales
"In the sonnet “Als ich den beiden so berichtet” (“In Dante’s Hell” in this translation from Jamie McKendrick’s 2003 collection Ink Stone), Brecht playfully imagines a world where the sin of adultery is cancelled out by a new political and social order “on earth” in which, since there is no ownership, there can be no theft, leaving Paolo and Francesca free to walk out of hell, their chains “no more than paperclips”." Andrew McCulloch • TLS
"Highly entertaining though Best’s work is, it may be just as well that the New Poets promotional tour doesn’t go any further north than Shropshire, given these lines from “the illuminati jokebook”: “If I ever become a stupendous bazooka then / please / shoot me”. Careful what you wish for, Crispin." Sean O'Brien Guardian
"Three of the signatories of the Proclamation – Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Plunkett – were mystic poets. MacDonagh, a lecturer in English who had written a thesis on Thomas Campion, wrote that the mystic seeks “to express the things of God that are made known to him in no language”. The rebels sought a dream of which they could not directly speak: they could speak only of having sought it." Declan Kiberd TLS
"A writer can never be on the side of killing. It is not possible, you know. But some people love killing and violence." Adonis • NYRB
"Contemporary criticism is positively crowded with first-person pronouns, micro-doses of memoir, brief hits of biography. Critics don’t simply wrestle with their assigned cultural object; they wrestle with themselves, as well." Jason Guriel • The Walrus
"And this allows for the amazing ideology of poetry. Allows for the idea that it is a free act. It is doubly free. It seems to have no economic value and seems not to be subordinated to labor discipline. It seems not to be salaried work or waged work. And so it can stand for certain kinds of freedom. Poetry can stand for freedom so intensely that people start to worry there is too much freedom." Joshua Clover Poetry
"I was kind of hoping Canadian poets were going to be braver and better than they were." Michael Lista • Open Book
"‘The Riverbank Field’ exploits the wider tendency among 20th-century poets to recuperate epic in the register of the humdrum, a tendency Heaney once neatly characterised by saying, ‘if Philip Larkin had ever composed his version of The Divine Comedy he would probably have discovered himself not in a dark wood but a railway tunnel halfway on a journey down England.’ That domestication of epic, in which allusions to heroic fictions at once give sanction to and emphasise the small scale of an individual life, was vital for Heaney’s later work. It enabled what might be called postcolonial parallax, in which a master text of a dominant civilisation is deliberately transformed from the ostentatiously low perspective of an unheroic life." Colin Burrow LRB
"When Aeneas finds the golden bough, Virgil says Aeneas “avidus refringit”. He breaks it off “avidus”: “eager”, “ardent”. The Loeb has “greedily breaks” and Heaney has followed suit: “greedily tore it off”. Would Virgil have wanted, for his reverent hero, the rather selfish note in English “greedy”? Might Heaney have moved on from the Loeb in a final revision? We will never know. Generally he is beautifully faithful to the Latin rather than the Loeb, and also to his own voice, his “own frequency”." Ruth Padel• FT
"That said, I still find him one of the most probing and intelligent critics on the poetry scene and one who is probably indispensable if you're someone who is hungry to find out what's going on. This is his most 'up-to-date' book so far, bringing us directly to the here and now and I think he makes a pretty good stab at describing the scene. Dip in and go with the flow." Steve Spence • Stride
"Speaking from the podium, Ashbery called “An Octopus” the most important poem of the 20th century; and while the remark provoked a few titters, he was reiterating a conviction that was neither novel nor idiosyncratic." James Longenbach • The Nation
"I have come to be very fond of German again. There are reaches of simplicity that English cannot do without sounding ignorant and stupid. In English you always have to sound as if you are making an effort. English is basically a trap: class trap, dialect trap, feeling trap. It’s almost a language for spies, for people to find out what people are really thinking. Operating in German, which doesn’t have these heffalump traps, would be lovely." Michael Hofmann • Guardian
"Teasley’s Brodsky is both darker and brighter than the one we thought we knew, and he is the stronger for it, as a poet and a person. The book’s reception itself is instructive. Since its publication by Corpus Books in the spring of 2015, Brodsky Among Us has been a sensation in the poet’s former country, quickly becoming a best seller that is now in its sixth printing. [...] Even so, the book has yet to find a publisher in English, the language in which it was written." Cynthia Haven • The Nation
"But the images in Clinical Blues are not the ones where Mama Afrika is praised, and her bushes are exalted, or her ancestors invoked and repudiated." Socrates Mbamalu • Brittle Paper
"But maybe many poems in both Best American and British reveal a state of mind, an anxiety, while withholding the causes. So little in the world makes sense that a poet can sometimes only construct a meaningful poem from disparate elements and glancing references, working all the harder with imagery, lineation and other usual devices to draw the reader in." Fiona Moore • The Poetry Review
"[We] tend to trust, or at least pay attention to, online reviews by strangers despite knowing some are faked or malicious, because better safe than sorry. An individual has always been able to damage a stranger’s reputation from afar, via rumour, the written word, or whatever. With the internet, the capacity is magnified in every sense, though human nature remains pretty much the same, for good and for ill. Technology is just an extension of our will." Karen Solie • Prac Crit
"There is, however, a sadder version of the story, that of a writer who finds himself unable to continue as a lyric poet: Eliot is the most vexing example. Another, lesser poet, the Tennessean John Crowe Ransom (1888–1974), wrote poetry for only nine years, and spent the rest of his life being a critic (while obsessively revising, mostly for the worse, the poems he had published years before)." Helen Vendler • NYRB
"When his eyes began to fail and writing became a chore, we agreed to communicate thenceforth by phone. Now, on a greyish Sunday afternoon, approaching five o’clock, I want for his voice. It was one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever known to issue from a man’s face – a lilting voice at once quizzical, playful, speculative and desirous of not just literature but also a decent bottle of wine, a splash of Poulenc or Mompou playing in the background and, above all, the light and colour one finds in the French paintings he so loved. Marius Kociejowski on Christopher Middleton • PN Review (scroll down)
"You can hate contemporary poetry — in any era — as much as you want for failing to realize the fantasy of universality, but the haters should stop pretending any poem ever successfully spoke for everyone." Ben Lerner • Poetry
"At Bard, Hecht’s roles included Antigonus in A Winter’s Tale, Neville Chamberlain, and one of the leads in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Aria da Capo. As Hecht’s one-time student Chevy Chase told me, when Hecht returned to Bard as a professor, he played a supporting role in Love’s Labour’s Lost, with Chase and Blythe Danner." David Yezzi • New Criterion
"Rapid, joky, suddenly mysterious, dramatic, Derek Mahon reminds us that poems can be complex and lucidly direct at once." John McAuliffe • Irish Times
"I watched a million cowboy movies growing up, and in the ones where the cowboy doesn’t ride off into the sunset, he usually dies. Sometimes he dies while riding off into the sunset, slumped over on a horse. There has to be a better way." Patricia Lockwood • New Republic
"In 2015, 15% of books in translation were from the French, and just 8.8% of those 113 books were from outside of Europe and Canada. During my year in Marrakech, I started looking into which Moroccan writers had already been translated. I assumed the renowned Moroccan writers had all managed to find their way into English at some point. I would soon learn just how untrue this was. In the entire history of Moroccan writing, written in any language—be it French, Arabic, or any of the local dialects—I managed to find only roughly thirty Moroccan writers with full-length works translated into English." Emma Ramadan • Words Without Borders
"One toehold for interpretation is the seeming contrast between the saccharine verses sung by Fayrouz, whose songs Abounaddara often uses to ironic effect, and the pseudo-Stalinist spectacle of stiffly dancing children. Yet the words of Gibran’s poem also say something true about life under Assad: children really don’t belong to their parents. As we can see, they belong to the state—like everyone else." Robyn Cresswell • NYRB
"From a technical point of view, One Hundred Years a Nation is a text that derives as much from the hip-hop tradition of “spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics” as it does from anything in Tadhg Dall Ó hÚigínn or Gerard Manley Hopkins. The music serves sometimes as a backdrop upon which the words inscribe themselves, sometimes as an FX track. Even the melody of the anthem is defined by the intrinsic musicality of the phrase “100 years a nation”, a phrase I trust will resound over the distant grinding of tectonic plates." Paul Muldoon • Irish Times
"Nothing is more essential to British poetry in its present condition than that a sense of “utter alienation” should obtrude on it." Geoffrey Hill • TLS
"Wang sees Kenneth Goldsmith’s statements that “uncreative writing is a postidentity literature,” and Marjorie Perloff’s 2006 MLA presidential address lamenting the demise of the “merely literary” (as opposed to the social or historical), to represent, at best, a repression—whether conscious or unconscious—about the significance of race in U.S. experience, and at worst, the embodiment of racist assumptions that low, “content-based” art is primarily written by people of color." David Micah Greenberg • Boston Review
"All rhymers of every century believed—wordlessly, mutely, even incoherently believed—that rhyme, by punctuating and thus amplifying the effects of a poem’s rhythm, helped to put a kind of spell on the reader, inducing unintelligible pleasure—and acquiescence to whatever was being said. They thought rhyme was a drug. And the unconscious inhibition against rhymes that might be supposed to interrupt the drug effect was simply one more development in the general 17th- and 18th-century program for improving English versification." Anthony Madrid • Prelude
"I have been described as more European in my writerly sensibilities, and I think that may be true, insofar as I not only think it’s okay to use abstraction but that it’s essential – it’s the abstractions that we’re always wrestling with, not the tangible things that are easy enough to pin down." Carl Phillips • Smartish Pace
"The mythical mapped on to the personal; the poetry of ages traced on to the human trials of life, illness and death." Guardian
"How to live a life “unsponsored” by a deity, in which we are responsible for inventing our own meanings, was the great subject of Stevens’s poetry from beginning to end." Adam Kirsch • The Atlantic

"I freely admit to a prejudice against the exercises in writing pantoum, villanelle, ghazal or sestina, which may enable bonding among groups of students. I have a strong feeling that a poem should find its form as an individual writing enterprise and that a poet should find her voice as she moves through the forest of subjects that want to be written about and words and shapes that offer themselves. For some poets the frisky games played by these exotic forms are utterly seductive and transform their writing ‑ but I can't in the case of Jane Clarke make out just why “On the Boat” should take the shape of a pantoum or “Who owns the field?” of a villanelle." Eilean Ni Chuilleanain • DRB
"She had studied with Alice Notley and Ted Berrigan, two of the most admired, most out-there poets of the countercultural New York literary scene. In a recent interview in the Guardian, Myles says of this time, “you just rolled in on Friday night with your beer and Alice Notley was teaching a workshop. You brought drugs.” She had worked as an assistant to James Schuyler, one of the original New York School poets. She may have come from a working-class family in Massachusetts, but if what impresses you are the avant-garde and renegade circles of New York City poetics, Myles’s pedigree is second to none." Arielle Greenberg • Poetry Foundation "It’s a charming enough poem; and, I would guess, it worked at what it was intended to do: lure this girl into bed. But that’s not why Myles reads it to Schuyler, or why she quotes herself reading it to Schuyler on the last pages of her autobiographical novel. The poem is homage, only deepened by its ostensible cruelty to the old iceberg in the chair, his “boozy wrinkles” revealing a lifetime of experience. It is written in Schuyler’s ribbon-like short lines, haltingly enjambed; it reminds me especially of Schuyler’s heartbreaking poem, for me his greatest: “This Dark Apartment.”" Dan Chiasson • NYRB
"The best-known sentence of Shklovsky’s long scholarly career is “Automatization eats things, clothes, furniture, your wife and the fear of war” – and yet the connections between ostranenie and war have hardly been mentioned in a hundred years. In literature, language can be made strange and thus experienced more intensely (similar arguments are to be found in Aristotle)." Alexandra Berlina • TLS
"After Syria's civil war started, the statue of al-Maarri was sprayed with bullets by fighters who deemed his work heretical. Eventually militants from the al-Nusra front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, finished the job - it was reported that in February 2013, in the middle of the night, they knocked off his enormous bronze head." Kanishk Tharoor and Maryam Maruf • BBC News
" The novel is a child of this era, whereas poetry is flung into it kicking and screaming and nostalgic for lost status, but both genres are equally without external sanction. The authority of the writer must be charismatic, since (a very few knighthoods and laureateships notwithstanding) there is precious little institutional authority on offer. But what now, when much of literature (especially literature that sees itself as literary) has entered the academy, not only as the site of interpretation and evaluation but as the site of creation." Robert Archambeau • B O D Y
"Its style and approach, it’s true, bring Kitty Kelley to mind more often than Richard Ellmann." Mark Ford • LRB
"In the introduction to her book, Karthika Nair states that the aim of the text was originally to be ‘a re-imagining of the Mahabharata through the voices of eighteen women’. Nair’s final version offers the monologues of nineteen characters, three of them male, and a couple of them wolves." Ian Pople • Manchester Review
"This was a contentious issue some years ago. Philip Larkin argued that when Auden left England for the United States in January 1939, he lost his theme. The United States never gave him anything worth writing poems about. I am not sufficiently in the world to know whether or not this is still a hot issue." Denis Donoghue • Irish Times
"We know the horse is scraps of paper and we also know—cannot resist knowing—that it is a horse. Not an “outside” horse, not a horse up on top of Utah on top of the White Rim Trail, but a magic horse." Kay Ryan • Threepenny Review
"You get a mind deeply immersed in and deeply engaged with her poets, absolutely attuned to the fine workings of a poem and determined to communicate her findings to the widest possible audience. It’s worth thinking about that: university scholars don’t on the whole, at least in literature, bother with the community outside their gates. Most contemporary literary scholarship is an internal conversation, if even that, or a kind of border-patrolling whose chief weapons are impenetrability and power prose designed to repel invaders. Vendler, from the outset, made a distinction between scholarship and criticism. Peter Sirr • DRB
"This is a thorny, difficult book. Reading it requires care, and effort. That is praise." Bethany W Pope • Wales Arts Review
"Ridge was not just a poet of activism. She was one of the first to delineate the life of the poor in Manhattan and, in particular, women’s lives in New York City." Teresa Svoboda • Boston Review
"I really really want a poetry that is not just stateless or borderline but is anti-state, but I do not think that poetry as a whole ‘is a practice that calls for the abandonment of sovereignty’." Juliana Spahr • Tender (pdf)
"Fittingly, his posthumous book from The Aeneid may come to be recognised as his finest translation of all, as well as the one most personal to him." Bernard O'Donoghue • Irish Times
"I thought I would be able to clearly see the move between Roggenbuck the ironic, post-internet troll in his accounts of his experiments with YikYak – and Roggenbuck the Poet, aping after a Poetry or Poetic Moment in his love poems. But I really couldn’t – and not, because Roggenbuck has rehearsed himself in front of a mirror until the whole thing is so consistent that we can’t tell, but because he is only concerned with saying and doing things that he 100% believes in at that moment. What this means for someone that high kicks between poems though I’m not sure." Lucy Burns • Manchester Review
"Whittock’s paradoxical visibility, then, is a product of the internet, as poet obscurity is now most easily achieved by refusing an online presence. For non-refuseniks, what’s interesting is likely to circulate: especially, in this case, when the writing is a completely unexpected, wittily fused celebration and critique of Australia’s other national sport." Michael Farrell • Sydney Review of Books
"Blaser recalls: "When Duncan was here at Simon Fraser for a reading he said, 'I've given nothing up for poetry.' This is in contrast -- you heard that, Warren -- to the cost for people like Jack." Tallman responds: "Well, Duncan once said, 'I would kick poetry in the teeth.'" And Blaser retorts: "Yes, 'I would kick poetry in the teeth rather than have it cost me.'" Well worth noting is that, in both instances, Duncan is never referred to as "Robert" while Spicer is always referred to as "Jack."" Patrick James Dunagan Bookslut
"[Heather] Phillipson likens writing poetry to editing her art videos or creating her installations; in each, she uses the technique of montage — or ‘‘ramming objects, images, words, sounds together’’ — that is now her absurdist trademark. Her videos’ unlikely layers — a ’60s girl-group soundtrack with the image of a loaf of bread on top of a disquisition on Abstract Expressionism, for instance — create what she calls a ‘‘gap’’ in the viewer’s understanding. ‘‘And something has to come in to fill that gap,’’ she continued: ‘‘the imagination.’’ Indeed, Phillipson’s work can seem a kind of aesthetic shock treatment for the viewer’s own creativity." Ben Eastham NYT
"One of my favourite moments in the [Jeremy Noel-Tod] pamphlet arrives with a provocative comparison between Marianne Dashwood’s passion for William Cowper in Sense and Sensibility (a marker of passé or gauche taste even in Austen’s time) and our current mania for Seamus Heaney." Dai George • Poetry Wales
"Misreading a minor, early work, from an oeuvre as substantial, as varied and as uneven as Hughes’s – plays, stories, children’s books and volumes of critical essays and translations as well as poetry, not to speak of the hinterland of unpublished writings – could be called a minor lapse in a biographer. But Bate has other readings just as bizarre, and cumulatively they suggest a careless approach to his subject’s work – even though “The biographical impulse must be at one with the literary-critical”, his Prologue reminds us. And, as with the detail, so with the central contention of his book." Alan Jenkins • TLS
"Here, revised, chopped up and interspersed with other subjects, “Hold Still, Lion!” allows readers to approach Creeley as Wright does, repeatedly, glancingly, as she lives and thinks of other things. “When I wrote to poet Rosmarie Waldrop (who was out of the country at the time), regarding Robert Creeley’s death, she responded, ‘It is the end of a world.’ ” Then white space for the rest of the page, so that reading Wright on Waldrop on Creeley, imagining long-distance shared loss between poets, becomes something like coming across an epitaph in a graveyard that arrests you with a sudden perception of death in life. Then you go on." Daisy Fried • NYT
"Using the Gospel story in which Christ draws a line in the sand with his finger to prevent a crowd from stoning an adulterous woman, Heaney says that writing can change things. Over time, occasionally, I have felt a need to speak as a gay man, since until recently we were not encouraged by society to love one another, marry, and have children. So if I have an ethics, it is simply to be true, but never at the expense of original language." Henri Cole • Paris Review
"The thing I respect most about the best contemporary Australian poetry is its bravery, its successes in spite of a lack of reach and marketability. The best Australian poetry has melody as well as melodrama, a tradition of a language caught in multicultural maelstrom, a poetry that dares to just go on its nerve." Rob Wilson • Cordite
"On one occasion when Goh feels that he has been snubbed by the great man in the Coffee Inn, Goh spends an hour "devising devilish ways for his [Patrick Kavanagh's] demise," only for Kavanagh to return, place a hand on Goh's shoulder and say, "Sorry, me lad. I was grappling with the muse, you see." Goh later tells Kavanagh he wants to be a writer, only for Kavanagh to quote, "Child, do not go / Into the dark places of the soul."" Michael O'Sullivan • Cha
"The border between memory and present is always pervious. Many of [Ni Chuilleanain's] poems hover nostalgically over the past and withdraw just at the point of sentiment. Often to the fore is the sense of guidance by a personal reading life into external fact, one prompting the other, in much the way Schliemann was guided by the tick of literature in the ruins of Mycenae. All this mention of excavation comes directly from the poet herself, where readers learn in 'Youth' that "all I have done combines to excavate / a channelled maze where I am escaping home"." Dean Browne • Southword
"Palestine, such as it is—the occupied territories and the Palestinian people (including, importantly, the Palestinian diaspora)—composes a rootless body that defies clear definition, a body which is abundant, which exceeds borders, but which is not confused." Adam Day on Najwan Darwish • Kenyon Review
"It’s interesting – after all the study I did and all the reading I’ve done about psychoanalysis – the great presentation of psychoanalysis is still ‘In Memory of Sigmund Freud’, which is one of the incredible poems of the twentieth century. There are still people who will say “Freud was right, Freud was wrong…” – it doesn’t make any difference. He made these discoveries about consciousness, not all of them were right but many of them in their basic configurations are undeniable." CK Williams • The Poetry Review
"When Danielle, an American visitor to Belfast, stumbles upon a mysterious handwritten note in a 2nd hand copy of Ciaran Carson's novel The Star Factory - she finds herself on a labyrinthine journey through his prose and through the hidden side-roads and alleyways of the city." Conor Garrett • BBC
"To approximate Latin hexameters, or even to render Virgil’s words in English as accurately as possible, seems to me as unnecessary (and indeed unwanted) as installing Roman plumbing in my house." David Hadbawnik • Like Starlings
"Simić invites chance into his poems, but does not give it carte blanche. He is more like André Breton who, caught revising his automatic writing, shrugged and claimed, “It wasn’t automatic enough.” Simić submits to chance “only to cheat on it.” The resulting poetry is a close cousin to the works of the visual artists to whom Simić is drawn: Giorgio de Chirico, Eva Hesse, Joseph Cornell, and Odilon Redon." Robert Archambeau • Boston Review
"It was a sad day for poetry when Ezra Pound discovered Confucius." Eric Ormsby • New Criterion
"What makes [Christopher] Middleton very different from these, however, is that he simultaneously became increasingly modernist and experimental, like a plant that reaches up towards light and delves into the earth for the different kinds of sustenance it needs. In this, he is similar to Davie and Gunn, who began to take a sympathetic interest in Modernism in the 1960s." Henry King • Eborakon
"But this is no ordinary vagrant. As the monologue proceeds he cites Jesus, Marx, and Jung, uses occasional expressions in French and fears for the preservation of his “spiritual integrity”. It is an intellectual discourse on self and society which maintains a sense of poetical writing in a constant rhythmic poise with quite strong figuration and alliteration when it gets excited." Peter Riley on David Gascoyne • Fortnightly Review
"‘The main thing is to be useful,’ ­Amichai would often say'." Rosie Schaap • New York Times
"The narrative in which a person is irrevocably marked by a single event is characteristic of our popular culture (just look at all those superhero movies). It co-exists oddly with the idea that the individual is both free and free to change. Meanwhile, “I know I know too much” might be the mantra of the postmodern subject, who must simultaneously live within this post-Freudian narrative and constantly ironize it." Ailbhe Darcy • Critical Flame
"The poet we encounter in Beauty/Beauty is someone who knows when to listen (“Last Sunday he said: / to be of use ought to be / the aim of our lives”) and when to balk (“World as I am surrounded by the idiocy of men”)." Evan Jones • Guardian "Although Perry’s collection marks the accomplishment of her own voice and style, a poem like the Casida of the Dead Sun points to her readiness for wider challenges, including a fruitful exchange with other writers and languages." Carol Rumens • Guardian
"In addition to creative work, we also sought pragmatic responses on how to ethically engage contexts, like the MFA workshop, as sites of cultural and perceptual invention. As a teacher of creative writing, I may be teaching a craft, however, I am also teaching, through my conversation and language, the ethics of my craft. Thus, we sought honest and informed responses to aid in potential conflict situations that may arise in classroom critiques: how to engage offensive or cliché racial characterizations, offensive or cliché gender representation, sexist or homophobic imagery, etc." J. Michael Martinez & Khadijah Queen • Evening Will Come
"The key to Goethe is that the spiritual “healthiness” so disliked by [TS] Eliot was not that of a man with a perfect constitution but that of a recovered invalid. He knew the “weakness” that Arnold described all too well. Goethe’s early life was a privileged one—he was the only surviving son of a prosperous bourgeois family in Frankfurt—and as a young man he teetered on the brink of waywardness. Though he studied law, at his father’s insistence, and even practiced briefly, the occupation was never more than a cover for what really interested him, which was writing poetry and falling in love." Adam Kirsch • New Yorker
"A paradox: though the best poetry is often made via razor-thin calls between similar words, and though a single poem may undergo a manuscript’s worth of revision before it feels just right to both reader and poet, some of the poetic texts we cherish most — collections of Emily Dickinson’s fascicles, or the First Folio of Shakespeare — have been assembled by way of scraps, best guesses, and any number of transcription errors." John Cotter • The Smart Set
"Poetry thus becomes utilitarian." August Kleinzahler • Chicago Review (2005 Christopher Middleton issue)
"When C.D. Wright died Jan. 12, American poetry lost one of the great ones, one of the figures who changed what the language can do, one of the writers whose lines and titles, sentences and similes are going to last at least as long as American English." Stephen Burt • LA Times
"But midway through The Road Not Taken, [David] Orr addresses Frost’s poem from what has become among critics an increasingly unusual perch. For a few pages, he treats the poem not as an objective document, an historical artifact, a cultural conceit, or even an ingenious composition, but instead as a human speech." Matthew Buckley Smith • Partisan
"It is an unfortunate commonplace in Kinsella criticism to talk about the poet’s mature work in terms of the demands it places on the reader." Adrienne Leavy • Irish Times
"Literary England was hostile to what threatened its mediocracy and grip on power." Tom Pickard • Poetry
" By and large, nobody listens to things like poetry reviews apart from other poets, and those involved in the forever failing, but quietly heroic cottage-industry of its production and promotion" Peter McDonald • Tower Poetry (pdf)
"One of the last to go will be Chris Mannix, whose name might be seen to serve as a nod in the direction of “Chris” in The Magnificent Seven and a wink in the direction of Ben Hur: A tale of the Christ. As it turns out, some of the very lenses used to film the chariot race in Ben Hur were “refurbished” by Panavision to allow Tarantino and his cinematographer, Robert Richardson, to shoot the film in Ultra Panavision 70. It comes as no surprise, yet again, that we come to see the stagecoach less as a stagecoach than a chariot with a team of six, including big close-ups of horses’ hooves and heads that replicate shots in Ben Hur." Paul Muldoon • TLS
"To be a refugee is to leave with only what you can carry. You can carry your crippled father, you can carry your baby, you can carry the spirits of home. You can carry a tune." A.E. Stallings • TLS
"Jonathan Bate’s malice is the glue that holds his incoherent book together—malice directed at other peripheral characters but chiefly directed at its subject. Bate wants to cut Hughes down to size and does so, interestingly, by blowing him up into a kind of extra-large sex maniac." Janet Malcolm NYRB
"If you write poems in the United States today, your poems owe something to C.D. Wright’s vision. And yet she was one of those poets—like Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich—it’s dangerous to imitate." David Biespiel • Partisan "Even categorizing her as uncategorizable is too easy: she was part of a line of mavericks and contrarians who struggled to keep the language particular in times of ever-encroaching standardization. I think of the messy genius of James Agee and Mary Austin as two possible antecedents for her genre-bending, lyrically charged, often outraged and outrageous American English." Ben Lerner • New Yorker "Recently I was asked to do an interview on National Public Radio for a programme that usually interviews people writing timely nonfiction or who are noted players in the sociopolitical sphere. I scheduled it in, and then I was notified I was to be replaced by someone with a history book just out, and the interview would probably be rescheduled later. The rescheduling never occurred." CD Wright • The Wolf
"Although Pound never noticed, it’s not too much of a stretch to see James Laughlin—Pound’s admirer, disciple, student, PR agent, publisher, counselor, friend—as a kind of Poundian “factive personality” whose life amalgamated many seemingly dissonant strains in twentieth-century America into a coherent whole, and in doing so changed the direction of U.S. cultural history." Greg Barnhisel • Humanities
"Brandon Courtney’s second collection, Rooms for Rent in the Burning City, follows his first, The Grief Muscles, by only a year, and it passes the sophomore slump test." Paul Scott Stanfield • Ploughshares
"Beckett’s advice to a young Aidan Higgins paraphrased by himself says a great deal: 'Stow your troubles early. Chin up. Anticipate squalls.'" Rosita Sweetman • Irish Times
"Auden, more lucidly than most, was able to identify and describe characteristics of the cultural malaise that continues to resonate 40 years after his death. Many aspects of modern life tend to alienate us from any communality, and shut us within our subjective selves. It becomes difficult to believe in the reality of other people. Fragmentation, a lack of encounters with the sacred, and a monotone impressionism characterize much of our artistic production. In verse of the last 60 years the result has been a hyper-subjectivity in its two polarized forms of hermeticism and confessionalism. In the face of such a situation, Auden argued, ‘Art can only have one subject – man as a conscious unique person’." Simon West • Sydney Review of Books
"I can readily see that I am not the intended reader for The Unauthorised Life of Ted Hughes." Michael Hofmann • Australian Book Review
"It is this testing of boundaries that makes Geis a work of great aesthetic and intellectual range, and marks O’Reilly as a sustaining presence in contemporary poetry." Lucy Collins • DRB
"Burke’s poetry collection “City of God” was a good example of the influence of the internet on modern poetry and the way in which it has transformed the layout of the poems, how they’re distributed, and how they are interpreted." Francesca Gavin • Sleek
"When asked to deny the crime, she says, in Anne Carson’s 2012 translation of Sophocles: ‘I did the deed I do not deny it.’ She does not seek to justify her actions within the terms of Creon’s law: she negates the law by handing it back to him, intact – ‘If you call that law.’" Anne Enright • LRB
"It’s thin enough on the ground, the poetry of winter, warm when it should be hot, maybe, sparse when lavish is called for. Perhaps that’s only as it should be, poetry following the rule of nature, like any living thing." Vona Groarke • Poetry Ireland Review
"There is often in Ashbery’s poems this sense of idiosyncratic discovery, as though one were walking into a hallway one had never seen before, a hallway shockingly new, irrepressible, fascinating, and yet almost dangerous and haunted with a kind of gleeful foreboding. And at times it is unclear – perhaps this partly why the poems can be foreboding – where the fantasy or nostalgic reverie stops and reality begins. " Andrew Michael Field • California Journal of Poetics
"I would guess that since my mid teens not a year has gone by without my daydreaming about the death of David Bowie." Brian Dillon • The Dublin Review
"For what then seemed a lengthy spell, from the late 1950s well into the 1970s, the standard-bearers of American poetry were a group of manic depressive exhibitionists working largely, if not exclusively, in traditional metre and rhyme schemes, analysands all, and with self-inflating personae that always reminded me of those giant balloons of Mickey Mouse and Pluto associated with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. They published and reviewed one another in journals like the Nation, Partisan Review, the Kenyon Review and Sewanee Review, with a good deal of auto-canonising." August Kleinzahler • LRB
"What’s obvious in these few lines is, first, Quinn’s faith in rhyme as a destination. The poem imagines a store of rhymes available in the English language, to which we can turn at intense moments and amongst which we will find treasure. This idea is conservative in a pure sense: it is because the rhymes are “ancient” that we can trust them. Rhyme imagines that the English language is possessed of a wisdom that is bigger than you or me." Ailbhe Darcy • DRB
"There is often, in this volume more than [Carl] Phillips’ other books, a feeling of ‘a disturbance in the force’. Phillips’ poems adumbrate a feeling that wholeness is out there, but it lies slightly out of reach." Ian Pople • Manchester Review
"Technical specifications: Burroughs, Gysin and the cut up, Dada, the art movement, Dada, my father and Dada, the name of the father. Détournement and the dérivé, Basquiat’s erasures. Flarf but not as you know it. Conceptual writing maybe." Robert Herbert McLean • Irish Times
"I’m afraid this is one of those hackneyed moments where the critic, me, says of the poet-critic writing of another — a skein of commentary tough to acknowledge without wincing — that he may as well be talking about himself. (Perhaps style is the outward struggle of our egotism, a hope that, in talking of ourselves, we may say with surety real things of others, too.)" Vidyan Ravinthiran • Poetry
"The light of evening, Lissadell,/ Great windows open to the south, / Both beautiful, one double-glazed." Kevin McAleer • Irish Times


New poems

Thomas McCarthy Irish Times

Jenny Haysom The New Quarterly

WB Yeats New Statesman

Joseph Campana Kenyon Review

Daniel Corrie Calamaro

Jennifer L Knox jubilat

Derek Mahon Poetry Daily / Gallery

WS Merwin Poetry Daily / Yale Review

Robert Gray Lyrikline

Regie Cabico Poetry

EA Soyemi Brittle Paper

Patrick Mackie The Poetry Review

A.K. Blakemore The Poetry Review

Emily Berry The White Review / Poetry International

Lesley Glaister Best Scottish Poetry 2015

Paul Muldoon Irish Times

William Logan Partisan

DS Marriott Shearsman

Derek Mahon Gallery

David Solway New Criterion

Amanda Joy Australian Book Review

Albert Goldbarth Georgia Review

Jillian Weise Clinic

James Tate Massachusetts Review

John Ashbery Paris Review

Sasha Steensen Kenyon Review

Cathal McCabe Irish Times

Ben Lerner Harpers

Maura Dooley Guardian

Mary Ruefle Paris Review

Laurie Duggan Cordite

Carl Phillips Poetry

Peter Sirr Irish Examiner

Katie Manning Queen Mob's Teahouse

Gail Mazur Hudson Review

Ian Pople Poetry Ireland Review

Jo Shapcott Southword

Dean Browne Southword

Maja Haderlap, tr Tess Lewis Words Without Borders

Jannine Horsford Manchester Review

Galina Rymbu Music and Literature

Conceição Lima, tr. David Shook World Literature Today

Michael Longley Poetry London

Ange Mlinko Poetry

Xiao Kaiyu Asymptote

CD Wright Poetry

Douglas Dunn Guardian

Steven Heighton Eighteen Bridges

Peter McDonald The Irish Times

Dana Gioia Hudson Review

Elizabeth Arnold The Nation

DA Powell California Journal of Poetics

Tom French Manchester Review

Hester Knibbe Berfrois

CD Wright The Awl

Haydar Ergülen Asymptote

Amit Majmudar The New Criterion

JT Welsch Eborakon

Beverley Bie Brahic Manchester Review

Alexandra Oliver Partisan

John North Manchester Review

Cathal McCabe Manchester Review

Emily Berry Poetry Review

Jamie McKendrick Poetry Review

Kim Seung-Hee Asymptote

Thomas McCarthy PN Review

Sarah Howe Clinic



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