The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"The whole experience [of translation] has taught me a lot about the freedom that comes through constraint." Mira Rosenthal in conversation with Emily Wolahan • Two Lines
"Translating was crucial in giving me the courage to try writing in English. Exploring the space between languages has remained essential for me. I see translating and writing as two modes of the same process. The two modes inform and cross-pollinate each other." Rosmarie Waldrop in conversation with Eric M. B. Becker • Words Without Borders
"[P]oetry, even when it is not overtly political, when it prefers the universal, when it is staunchly private, if not blatantly apolitical, or when it is fiercely formally experimental to the point of illegibility, is nevertheless already a form of consciousness-raising, say, by cultivating attentiveness to language, to structures of thinking, to the idea of an other, to a self who is not our own—and these are necessary to participate meaningfully in political life." Conchitina Cruz in conversation with Ivy Alvarez • Cordite Poetry Review
"In a recent interview, Li-young Lee commented, ‘I think poetry is the mind of God. All the great poems that I love seem to me to all have that little ingredient. You feel like you’re in the presence of the mind of God.’ Such utterances tend to scare people on this side of the Atlantic; people might agree with Lee’s comments but they would be unlikely to say them. And Lee, who is much lauded on his side of the Great Pond, is not afraid to embrace the vatic." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"Oddly enough, “I Shall Be Free” shares with [Robert Frost's] “Dedication” the distinction of never having been performed: it is one of very few songs from an officially released album which Dylan has never sung in concert." Daniel Karlin TLS
"If there can be such a person as the darling of poetry, that person is currently Elizabeth Bishop. ‘Darling’, I accept, is a somewhat patronising term, but I use it as a means of characterising the degree of fondness that has developed around her work. As a poet she is often ‘cherished’, and has achieved the billing that publicists, marketing departments and blurb writers prize above all others: she is ‘beloved’." Simon Armitage PN Review
"He sought to be both Virgil and Dante: at once an imperturbable tour guide to our age of horrors, and a pensive and troubled spiritual seeker. It’s a particular quality of tonal slipperiness that makes Lowell’s greatest poems so enthralling: just when we seem to be tiring of his rhetorical and imagistic bombast, he suddenly offers statements of disarming candor." David Wojahn Kenyon Review
"The culture at large really wants to convince young writers that the writing itself is the last thing that matters." Ange Mlinko FSG
"To respond to Logan’s essay truly on Logan’s terms requires not that I defend Vuong, nor even attack Logan. It requires that I engage with the ideas that Vuong represents to Logan, which have larger consequences for all writers of color, and implicates far more reviewers than Logan." Paisley Rekdal • Asian-American Writers' Workshop

"You start out believing that poetry is either self-expression or memoir (not to denigrate personal experience—our individual lives are of monumental importance to each of us). But gradually you end up knowing that the great texts issue from a larger, deeper, more communal body of—well, “knowledge” is a puny word to describe it. It’s a kind of transpersonal experience. And you can’t get there without a slow, laborious, time-consuming effort of reading and re-reading. It’s the re-reading that has mattered most to me—realizing that things I read in school 20 or 30 years ago are only now making sense to me." Ange Mlinko Lithub
"Here are a few of the different things that happen in the book: God takes a stroll through postwar Paris; drunken soldiers pull over a bus in Ghana; two vapid uptalking young women discuss their sexy Halloween costumes; a small-town reporter catalogues a summer’s worth of car accidents; a Japanese grandfather recreates his rural homeland in a hospital room; a teenager hears rumours about something called the internet; a young girl in Austria imagines setting up her widowed grandmother with a former Nazi." Richard Sanger • The Walrus

"If [John] O’Donnell’s is a populous literary imagination, John F Deane’s is much more a continuing dialogue between self and soul, in which the narrative voice strikes always an unabashedly high tone. Against the desiccated, hyper-ironised, and textually self-pleasuring tendency in contemporary verse, Deane’s Dear Pilgrims (Carcanet Press) comes as something of a shock. It is serious, veering towards solemn, and given to abstract gestures and apostrophes." Caitriona O'Reilly Irish Times
"In the beginning, there is polyphony, false starts, botched experiments, and mixed motives. Usually." Paul Batchelor on Geoffrey Hill Poetry
"Ronda posits nature as a remaindered category of poetic thinking. A non-dominant cultural form, poetry might best represent what capitalism has spoiled. The analogy between poetic and natural remainders that determines Ronda’s choice of texts is original." Jean-Thomas Tremblay LARB
"You must understand that art is nothing to these men, nor history. The penalty for ignoring two thousand years is that you get stuck in the last hundred. They have the specious present of the barbarian. Art in this century demands a sense of the tragic dignity of history. These poor bastards are stuck in the last third of the 19th century and I swear they don’t know that anything happened before that." Donald Hall • Paris Review

"“A BAME critic is far less likely to read such poets as straightforwardly authentic – a favoured construction of white reviewers often”, [Sandeep Parmar] told me when I interviewed her for the website Write Out Loud. “It is tiring and disappointing and sometimes infuriating to see poets of colour read so simplistically, without enough [of the] attention to literariness and aesthetic choices that white poets are afforded.”" Jade Cuttle TLS
"The question of connection between the writing implements and the writing itself is a fascinating one. Henry James, in the novels he composed after rheumatism in his right wrist forced him to give up handwriting, can undoubtedly be overheard dictating those ever-rolling sentences to his typist. He admitted the effect himself, and noted that he eventually came to depend on the noise made by the machine as background to his creative flow. Francis reminds us that keyboards make demands that are literally digital, and may be painful (“the strain of Q in the little finger”) – at least for anyone aspiring beyond the horribly amateurish, but tempting, two-fingered approach." Carol Rumens Guardian
"Viewed historically, as poetry written in relation to the spatialised moment of Olson, what The Double Dream of Spring allows us to configure, in our own geographically fraught condition, is a language of space in which movement, not belonging, is the principle of articulation." David Herd • Cordite

"In a 1983 essay, “Poetry and Ambition,” Mr. Hall began it by saying, “I see no reason to spend your life writing poems unless your goal is to write great poems.” He went on to assail much of the poetry world, finding mediocrity there, or what he calls the “McPoem.”" NYT on Donald Hall "“None of us knew we would ever publish a book, but we took it very seriously. We would stay up late arguing over whether one poem was good enough to go in our magazine. It was incredibly stimulating. We argued all the time.”" Donald Hall Irish Times "By age 14, he had decided to become a poet, inspired after a conversation with a fellow teen versifier who declared, 'It is my profession.' 'I had never heard anyone speak so thrilling a sentence,' Hall remembered." Daily Mail / Guardian "Hall’s whole-animal approach to writing — leaving no parts unused or wasted — recalls the poem he turned into his most popular children’s book, “Ox-Cart Man,” in which nothing is wasted in a farmer’s repetitive cycle of manufacture and market." Heller McAlpin Washington Post
"But when Michael Hartnett says “The act of poetry is a rebel act”, readers will often, depending on their politics, mentally head off to the nearest barricade or place a disgusted call to (poetry) Crimestoppers." David Wheatley • Irish Times

"The troubling possibility that my desire to be a poet had similarly been complicated by a desire to be desired became the catalyst for some poems of mine in which the poet and the muse are engaged in conflicts that take the form of domestic arguments. While these poems are predictably read as autobiographical narratives of home life, the struggle depicted was an internal one. It was also aesthetic: I was beginning to understand that one doesn’t have to write poems that will please anyone, nor does one have to prettify, or even illuminate, one’s ‘self’ in them." Kathryn Maris Poetry London
"We soon realize interesting contrasts, or rather, interesting asynchronies – in Empire and post-Empire Britain, or a modern Greece that is too often (mis)understood in relation to the classical world, and its inheritance. Some relationships may seem lopsided; the one with Homer going back to Chapman, imports and negotiations of modernist values through Seferis and other poets of his generation." Paschalis Nikolaou • Greek Agenda News

"It is common practice now in reviews to talk only about ‘the speaker’ of a poem, rather than the poet, but Who is Mary Sue? is so focused on this subject, drawing on so many different sources, that it is a useful milestone in the discussion of authorial selfhood in poems, and particularly in lyric poetry." Chrissy Williams Poetry London
"Adorno, it seems, is beyond criticism, and indeed “as Adorno says. . .” is an orthodoxy of the current graduate classroom in Anglophone countries, though not at all in his native Germany. If you want to make a sophisticated Marxist intervention in a discussion of how to understand Keston Sutherland’s poetry, invoke the name Adorno! And watch your “questions” become more and more intriguingly “unanswerable.”" Marjorie Perloff Chicago Review
"Poetry thrives in the digital age because it is “a form of resistance, … an insistence on private truth and fantasy”." Magdalena Kay on Derek Mahon DRB
"The poet’s back story, as Hollywood would call it, is so affecting it gets in the way. The poetry might develop into something richer and stranger, given a chance; but Vuong’s appetite for pathos; his giddy, off-kilter images; and his painful eagerness suggest how much work he has yet to do." William Logan • New Criterion

"The transition from poems to novels happened because I’d reached a dead end in poetry. ‘Hennecker’s Ditch’ used me up and when I tried to write poems afterwards I felt like a jobbing writer (and there’s no worse crime, in my opinion, than writing something which doesn’t need to be written). So I gave up on the poems and then, suddenly, I was writing a novel. I’ve always wanted to write a novel." Katharine Kilalea Granta
"Perhaps, as our poets get older, and bodies let them, and us, down, such sequences become more prevalent: Jo Shapcott, Julia Darling and Carol Rumens have written about this from the female point of view. O’Neill, always conscious of his context within a family, writes with the sensitivity we’ve come to expect from him about the effect his own cancer diagnosis has on, not only him, but on those closest to him." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"Some of Thomas’s most arresting poetry emerges from the clash of his religious and his nationalist impulses. In a small poetic drama, “The Minister,” a young pastor comes to an isolated farm community with dreams of sparking a revival. His idealism is soon dashed: “I began a Bible class; / But no one came / … I opened the Bible and expounded the Word / To the flies and spiders, as Francis preached to the birds.”" Peter J. Leithart • First Things

"At a moment when arguments rage about poetry’s competing responsibilities to a community and to the solitary dream and vision, [Paula] Meehan reminds us that it is possible to take both sides: proud to have seen the “changed relationship to hierarchical ideas around the canon and who makes it, who shakes it”, she is also clear that “poetry is not sociology, poetry is not history”." John McAuliffe Irish Times
"Even in Marsden the extraordinary could happen, apparently. Staring out of that window every night I developed a new sense of the world, one that went beyond the factual and the informational. A sense of what it was like, and how it felt. That was the beginning of my life as a writer, even though I still didn’t know how to capture experiences in words." Simon Armitage • Guardian

"The mystery, then, is how a man who had obviously studied Shakespeare closely, who was alive to the beauty of his poetry, and who was moreover no imbecile could have published such reams of ludicrous doggerel apparently in all seriousness and without any appreciation of the spectacle that he was making of himself. Insofar as he is remembered at all, it is as the McGonagall of Bournemouth; a desultorily active Cumberland Clark Memorial Society sometimes holds a dinner in his memory." Anthony Daniels • New Criterion

"There are also a set of protective well-tempered diatribes in reaction against the anti-Olson sentiment sparked by Tom Clark’s 1991 biography Charles Olson: Allegory of a poet’s Life, which invited critiques of the poet on personal grounds as well as antipathetic views towards his work in general. Clarke’s admonitions on Olson’s behalf are staunch in their unfailing allegiance to adhering to accuracy towards the work itself." Patrick James Dunagan 4Square Review
"‘A Part Song’ opened with the line ‘You principle of song, what are you for now?’ and this ‘for’, as in Emily Berry, is as unignorable as the loved, lost bones. These poems are written in spite of the embarrassment, the gaucheness and excess of the collision between emotion and thought, pieced together through voices which say the only things possible, as well as they can." Declan Ryan The White Review
"If I’m somewhat dubious of the more overt claims of these poems–what Keats might have called “a palpable design on us”–I’m won over again and again by their urgency, their resonant cries that break historical silences with song." Danielle Chapman Yale Review
"My friend, several months before he died, asked if he could request a favour of me and, mindful of the extraordinary demands he made from time to time, I said it depended on what that favour was. ‘When I die,’ he whispered, ‘I want you to plunge a dagger into my heart.’ It would have to be a dagger, of course, a poetical blade, and not an ordinary serrated kitchen knife." Marius Kociejowski PN Review
"Mostly what awaits the poet is posthumous oblivion. Maybe there will be a young man in Hamburg, or Munich, or possibly Vienna, for whom my German translations will be for a while important — and might just contribute to him becoming a German language poet with Irish leanings." Matthew Sweeney Irish Examiner
"In 2007 a small selection of twenty-two poems was declassified and published in translation as Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak. The vast majority of the poems, however, remains under lock in a military facility in Virginia. The reason was reported in a Wall Street Journal front-page article shortly before the publication of the collection, viz. that “poetry presents a special risk, and DOD standards are not to approve the release of any poetry in its original form or language” (Dreazen 2007). Wary of secret messages hidden in the imagery, alliterations, personifications – the entire poetic dimension of language – the military refused to declassify the remaining body of literature. And because of their perceived threat to national security, the poems were translated by linguists with security clearances rather than by professional translators of poetry. Whether silenced or deformed, the Guantánamo poems make visible the degree to which fear of language and the attempt control language continue to be central elements of the war effort." Anders Engberg Pedersen boundary 2
"Serious and engaged critique of the kind that [Peter] Riley writes is vital to contemporary poetry, but he is mistaken in identifying the activity of the network only with the types of translation described in his review." Zoe Skoulding Poetry Wales
"When people talk about my book being provocative, it’s funny to me, because it’s really a trojan horse of sentimentality. I feel like I’ve put a leather jacket on over a Laura Ashley pyjama set and got away with it." Hera Lindsay Bird Observer
"His work stretches from intimate explorations of family and marriage to considerations of nationhood and identity. But his forensic mind has paid closest attention to the struggle of the individual with the ordeals of the human predicament." Gerard Smyth Irish Times "Kinsella’s Táin transmits something of the austerity of the Irish, prickly and black as the contorted balckthorn bush, with its sudden explosions of bright blossom. It was in this language the bards expressed what we were, and in rendering it into English Kinsella has bent the language to his purpose and kept it, somehow, in the vernacular." Mary O'Malley Irish Times
"It is an economy for a publisher not to edit." Michael Schmidt PN Review "It’s also clear [...] that absences distort presences. If past achievement is erased, present achievement can only exist in a awed context. For any editor, that’s a case to answer." Eavan Boland Poetry Ireland
"And so, mindful of “the Goddess Dullness squatting on our pages” (referred to elsewhere as the “daily meh”), [Leontia] Flynn breathes the new life of an entirely contemporary voice into a seemingly traditional stanzaic structure. That the elegy is not “Heaneyesque” in style testifies both to the generosity of Heaney’s example and to the sureness of Flynn’s talent." Paul Bachelor New Statesman
"Through [Thomas Kinsella's] New Poems 1973 and the books that followed, I learned to believe in my own reality and work from its rudiments." Harry Clifton Irish Times
"The tonal register too, slides between earnest confessional and ribald play. This makes for a dizzying, and sometimes jarring, progression. Nonetheless, I found myself unfastened by this aspect of Soho (not by its experimentation with affront), but by the discomforting force of its confessional provocation. It reminds me of the anxieties that were raised in the wake of the MeToo movement that saw survivors of sexual violence undertake public acts of self-nomination en masse. What does it mean to speak of shame? How much speaking is too much?" Nell Osborne The Manchester Review
"Reading through the work of a writer like [Henri] Cole, one finds it inevitable to consider the issue of progression, or lack of it. The Confessionalist who survives and thrives to a certain age no longer finds his or her anguish as dire or newsworthy as before. In some ways the long-term conundrum of Confessionalism might be the question, How much can I do with my personal unease?" Tony Hoagland Poet Lore / Poetry Daily
"The reward of reading through this long book is watching the process unfold, as Plath gains agency, self-confidence, and adeptness in her lifelong project of self-fashioning. Due to the autobiographical nature of her poetry and fiction, her letters should therefore be seen not as auxiliary to her creative work, but as part of it. Yet combing any particular letter for “the truth” about Plath presents challenges, for The Letters of Sylvia Plath makes clear that she crafted different versions of herself for different correspondents, variously including and occluding details about her experiences and shifting her tone and style, depending on whom she addressed." Meg Schoerke Hudson Review
"To the extent West’s music continues to give expression to feelings of black pride and self-empowerment, it will do so in defiance of Kanye’s newfound Trumpism, just as Pound’s poetry often went against the grain of his fascism." Jeet Heer • New Republic

"For Baudelaire, nothing in the teeming city is beneath the notice of poetry, and so it is for Symmons Roberts." Katharine Towers The Compass
"However there is now a growing clamour urging policy-makers to get a grip and start implementing the type of measures that were ultimately put in place following the last upheaval of this nature; the Gutenberg revolution in the fifteenth century. It took time, but eventually censorship, licensing, copyright and other protections for individual privacy were put in place. We now need to move much faster than in the first information revolution, beginning with an urgent refutation of Mr Zuckerberg’s arrogant assertion that “privacy is no longer a social norm”." John Fanning DRB
"Whether the first person here is a persona adopted by Phillips, or the empirical Phillips, himself, is a moot point; Phillips’ taut and slightly driven syntax certainly feels personal. And what the poem offers is an exploration of a kind of truth. That Phillips is so successful in persuading the reader that she is reading truths is down to the precision and elegance of that syntax. The reader is taken in at the start of the sentence, the verse paragraph, the whole poem and then let go at the end. To read Carl Phillips is, as has been said by others, to be read by him. Phillips’ querulous, querying syntax seems to inhabit part of the human condition." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"I didn’t realize until recently that you could record on the iPhone, and I suddenly thought, “Maybe I should record all of my day, every day.” Who wouldn’t like to listen to a perfect recording of their own life, as it was 10 years ago?" Hannah Sullivan LARB
"To survive reality at its most extreme and grim, artworks that do not want to sell themselves as consolation must equate themselves with that reality. Radical art today is synonymous with dark art; its primary color is black. Much contemporary art is irrelevant because it takes no note of this and childishly delights in color." Fred Moten Queen Mob's Teahouse
"The sorrows of poets are legion, and their failures commonplace. Why does the case of Elizabeth Jennings deserve special consideration?" Dana Gioia • First Things

"By the time of the Coventry trip, Larkin had abandoned more than one third novel. He was also writing the poems, collected the following year in The Less Deceived, that would make his reputation: “Lines on a Young Lady’s Photograph Album,” “Reasons for Attendance,” “Toads,” “Church-Going,” and of course “I Remember, I Remember.” (The year of Larkin’s trip, the manuscript was rejected by the Dolmen Press in Dublin as “too self pitying” and “too sexy.”)" William Logan New Criterion
"Not only does our digital living condition us profoundly, and by the stealthiest increments — so that with every new upgrade, every app, we are not only further empowered, but also more deeply reliant — but it also creates in us an estrangement, a sense of void." Sven Birkerts Aeon
"To some extent the revival can be seen as a vogue among poets, a fashion fuelled by the popularity and visibility of Heaney and Michael Longley, two of its main proponents. In the late 1980s and early 1990s both were instrumental in bringing the classical revival from the Irish stage into poetry." Florence Impens Irish Times
"Tom French has much to say but admirably it is often on behalf of others. These are poems without any pretensions, with a sturdiness to the diction and playful inclinations such as in the poem “Angler” in which a road-measuring exercise with a reel of tape is compared to the angler reeling in his catch. He mixes plain statement with imaginative and often startling leaps and U-turns that make the reader sit up." Gerard Smyth DRB "The narrative tone of a Tom French poem is immediately recognisable: detached but sympathetic; sensuously nostalgic; watchful; alert to the serendipities of time, place, and logos; acutely aware of the local with its twin taproots in history and landscape." Caitriona O'Reilly Irish Times
"While a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Hamill won a $500 for producing the best student literary magazine in the country, and used that money to team up with Tree Swenson and Bill O’Daly to found Copper Canyon Press." Ian Dreiblatt Melville House
"Today I set out to devise the thing I would have actually turned in to W. H. Auden if I had been in his class at the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (better known today as the 92nd Street Y) sixty-two years ago." Anthony Madrid • The Paris Review

"According to Nadel, the decisive shift toward his future singing career came at a party at Frank Scott’s house, when Cohen introduced the music of Bob Dylan to the Montreal poets. Listening to Subterranean Homesick Blues, the writers didn’t know what to think. Al Purdy, classy as ever, called it an awful bore and stomped out of the room. But “Cohen listened intently, solemnly announcing that he would become the Canadian Dylan, a statement all dismissed.”" Derek Webster • CNQ

"Flarf was and is many things—a movement, a method, a friend group, an in-joke, an email list. But mostly Flarf was a product of a keenly-felt transitional moment, when the various institutions that glued American poetry together were soaked in the solvent fluids of emergent social media. Poetry, and discourse about it, was no longer beholden to the moderating temporality of the print journal, the gatekeeping of the university MFA program, or the fierce tribalism of the city-based avant-garde scene." Jasper Bernes Chicago Review
"That Shakespeare did not (as far as we know) plan land-grabs and massacres in Ireland or anywhere else does not alter the fact that his poetical figurations share a lot with Spenser’s. Or may it not in the end be poetry itself which is excoriated as authoritarian, or more commonly “elitist”, or at any rate poetry which values the extending perspectives of its own ancestry and enjoys echoic ornamentation. This would include a lot of contemporary poetry and, I would think, a lot of Irish poetry in both languages." Peter Riley Fortnightly Review
"Contemporary Anglophone radical poetry absorbs and rejects the imperative to be commensurate with the environment of its making, an imperative made with no greater utopian assiduity than in Whitman’s verse, because the world it must recognize as its own is built upon the systematic exploitation and indentured suffering of those without whom it would not exist." Joe Luna Chicago Review
"Reticence may be the déformation professionnelle of the poet. In Auden’s case, this seemed all the more likely because much of his work, in utter simplicity, arose out of the spoken word, out of idioms of everyday language—like “Lay your sleeping head, my love, Human on my faithless arm.” This kind of perfection is very rare; we find it in some of the greatest of Goethe’s poems, and it must exist in most of Pushkin’s works, because their hallmark is that they are untranslatable." Hannah Arendt • Literary Hub

"This is poetry as “a middle zone between the news and prayer,” as the literary scholar Jahan Ramazani has put it: poetry that comments on the world and at the same time bends language to hope for the possibility of another. Its complexity is sustaining, giving us something to think about that changes as we think about it, and as we hope for conditions to change." David B Hobbs The Nation
"Digital commentary, Bury writes, can cover the source text like kudzu vines, “until only its faint outline remains”. As with book reviews replacing the book itself, now succeeding waves of commentary can overwhelm the source more rapidly than can be kept up with, which has led to the rise of the “take of takes”: summarised aggregations of the responses so far. It can be oppressive to think about how much of the cultural conversation it is impossible to keep up with." Chris Power New Statesman
"A language of reviewing which might reach for phrases such as ‘beautifully controlled’, ‘body of work’, and a general slew of self-gratifying slippage between the verbal and the corporeal, is inadequate to Kingdom of Gravity." Vahni Capildeo on Nick Makoha The Compass
"Which is to say, I don’t think I had any grasp of the staggering range and history of British writing, apart from who made headlines or got attention in the United States because of awards or notoriety or big reviews. Zadie Smith and Simon Armitage are the only two names that immediately come to mind as I try to recall who I had heard of prior to arriving in London." R.A. Villanueva • Oxford Poetry

"Osip Mandelstam’s life and work are seamlessly united; his speeches and deeds form a singular impression of wholeness, of joyful integrity and inner freedom. “Everything has become heavier and more massive,” he wrote in his essay “On the Nature of the Word”; “thus man must become harder . . . the sacred character of poetry arises out of the conviction that man is harder than everything else in the world.” Osip demonstrated his own adamantine hardness—the “deep bedrock of principles,” in Nadezhda’s words, “which set him apart from anyone of his own or later generations”—when he meddled, on pain of death, in the case of an imprisoned art historian; when he intervened to save five old men facing execution, sending Bukharin a volume of his poetry with an inscription to the effect that “every word here is against what you are going to do”; and especially when, taking the measure of a Goliath like no other the world has ever seen, he weighed little stones of poetry—dense verses of formal power, earthy thematic richness, and striking imagery—against the immense totality of the USSR." Jacob Howland New Criterion
"I'm not sure where or when he gave his first poetry reading but he was no less nervous. Afraid that, if he took the time to read slowly and pause occasionally, he'd lose the audience, he rushed. He didn't want to sound too actorish, too Dylan Thomasy. He didn't like his voice, too high and thin; his accent, too English. It was a wonder, then, to witness the Extreme Makeover: he got to be so good! His voice was high and thin but its limitations allowed him to dramatize just enough." Mike Kitay Threepenny Review
"The long eponymous poem is a masterful depiction of motherhood during the Troubles as a perpetually heightened state of vigilance and vulnerability. The quiet “rhythms of a culchie life” on the farm are disturbed suddenly and repeatedly by the jarring words broadcast on the radio, which seems to come alive in the poem’s opening: “The radio hoots and mutters, hoots and mutters / out of the dark, each morning of my childhood.”" Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado DRB
"“I am ashamed to say I do not understand the poem clearly,” my student wrote. When I write back to her, I offer explanations about confusing lines and send her articles on Modernism and symbolism and World War I, but I also tell her there is no need to feel ashamed." Emily Frisella • The Rumpus

"Much of Zagajewski’s mulling takes place on his long walks around the city. He shares his bibliography for walking, recommending Italian poet Eugenio Montale, Greek diplomat and poet George Seferis, the Czech poet Vladimir Holan. One can almost hear his Polish-accented drawl as he writes, “And so we live, torn between brief explosions of meaning and patient wandering through the plains of ordinary days.”" Cynthia Haven Weekly Standard
"In part three of the poem, (Sarah) Arvio comes up with an interesting solution when she translates the fifth line as “I have seen the gray rain chase the waves” (Kinnell translates this as “I’ve seen gray rains fleeing toward the sea” and Spender and Gili’s version is “I have seen grey showers move towards the waves”). Arvio’s single-syllable words suggest panic; in the meter, it sounds like a good line of English poetry—T.S. Eliot might have been proud of it—rather than a translation. Since both the rain and the waves are in movement, “chase” serves to emphasize this and suggests also that something urgent is at stake, even if in the original Spanish the rain is running away from something as well as running toward the sea." Colm Toibin NYRB
"Whitman, long recognized for his candid treatment of the body and sexuality, was also the quintessential poet of disability and death. As a volunteer nurse in the Civil War hospitals in Washington, D.C., he visited, according to his own estimate, between 80,000 and 100,000 wounded or sick soldiers over the course of four years." David S. Reynolds • NYRB

"People presume there is a lot of structure in this structure because I think some of the best poetry I have ever read, it goes beyond the bounds of standard grammar. But when you know the grammar really well you can utilise what you like to get the message across." Joe Schmidt Irish Times
"In the far future, when the only readers who cherish and puzzle over Lucie Brock-Broido’s poems are those who never met her, those readers will surely try to imagine what she must have been like in person." Stephanie Burt • Paris Review

"The last time I saw Lucie was at the Star Market in Porter Square. She had called me a few weeks earlier to say she had a brain tumor and was dying. She said it in the same way as she had said many things over the last thirty-plus years, with characteristic theatricality." Askold Melnyczuk • Agni

"There are so many models of lyric – Allen Grossman and Susan Stewart beautifully and differently elaborate it – that consider lyric as responsiveness. Grossman has a scary, incisive model of Orphic vs. Philomelan origins of poetic power, Stewart an account of ‘lyric possession’. All these seem terribly resonant and extremely complex to me – accounts of ways we call, and are called, into being, speech, silence. But I also think of any lyric as implicitly choral, or as emerging out of some subliminal sociable chorus, some matrix we all swim in and sometimes ‘speak’ or ‘sing’ from." Maureen N McLane Granta
"The narrative tone of a Tom French poem is immediately recognisable: detached but sympathetic; sensuously nostalgic; watchful; alert to the serendipities of time, place, and logos; acutely aware of the local with its twin taproots in history and landscape." Caitriona O'Reilly Irish Times
"Coming soon after he began teaching at Harvard and was hearing the “unmoored speech” of some contemporary American poetry, the commission would also be a way of ensuring that his “linguistic anchor” stayed “lodged on the Anglo-Saxon sea-floor”." Andrew McCulloch TLS
"[T]hroughout his career, Gunn wrote against the grain of Confessional poetry. It is as though his poetry depended on him treating himself as someone else, or nobody in particular, someone almost anonymous. Gunn never claimed the Orphic privileges of the ‘Poet’ or a ‘Poet’s Life’ like Robert Lowell or Sylvia Plath. He was content to operate within the republic of contingency." Kit Fan The Poetry Review
"Samuel Lee is part of a new generation of Singapore poets published by the influential Math Paper Press who are forced to navigate the authoritarian city-state’s strict censorship constraints. In her 2016 essay ‘Chapter and Verse’, Math Paper Press poet Amanda Chong explains poetry’s role in a city with ‘growing feelings of dislocation, a widening income gap and limited historical consciousness’. ‘Singaporeans have an affinity for obliqueness, eschewing direct confrontation for more coded expressions,’ Chong writes. ‘Poetry is seen as the ivory tower of the intelligentsia, its messages safely elevated from the masses. This has created space for narratives that contest State orthodoxy.’" Natasha Stallard The Manchester Review
"The collection What Are Years (1941) seems to be the last book of Moore’s height as a modernist, the last book to include long poems of excitingly varied yet symmetrical syllabic stanzas, across which the associative hypotactic turnings of her exacting mind were woven." Christopher J Adamson Boston Review
"There is a feeling, in Gunn, that sinuosities of syntax, given the scaffold of rhyme, and proved upon the pulse of meter, cannot fail in the quest for complexity; he has a habit of relentlessly finessing a perception until the rhymes begin to self-generate, and the metaphysical contortions produced as a result are mannered, not cognitive. Rococo, not rational, though Gunn’s no-nonsense aesthetic — he was hard on poets like James Wright, for writing disconnectedly — packages these flourishes as a strict logic." Vidyan Ravinthiran Poetry
"Translation, like any work of reporting or reading or interpreting or narrating, isn’t like that. I think we should aim not to be “unbiased,” but to be responsible, and that involves being as conscious as possible about our biases and preferences, as well as being informed as possible about the material at hand (which includes our society and the English language, as well as the Greek text)." Emily Wilson • Chicago Review of Books

"Graves, Mac Neice, Longley, and the poets whom Longley appreciates regard middle-class educated conversation as the decent norm, fit to maintain the middle C of poetry while allowing for local extravagance, demotic or sublime. This is evidently what Longley means by “the true tradition”. No wonder his sole mention of Eliot is to say that The Hollow Men is “pretentious tosh”. " Denis Donoghue Irish Times
"The reading, he tells us, is a form of “poor theatre”: its lack of resources is important to what it does. In general, poetry readings are not like opera. Nobody takes our tickets and shows us to our seats, there’s no orchestra, no curtains, no lights." Ailbhe Darcy The Critical Flame
"If one is not from a dominant group, the question of identity can’t be taken for granted; even if one wants to shunt it aside and write of other things, one often feels compelled to make a case for doing so." Robert Archambeau Hudson Review
"Overdue apologies to all those who thought Brick must be an acronym: Book Review . . . Nope." Stan Dragland Brick
"Zagajewski’s primal tristesse cannot be confined to Lvov or any other locale. It reaches around the world, embracing his eventual emigration to Paris, his sojourns in Berlin and the United States, and finally Kraków, the literary heart of an “exceptionally polemical, and often petty, country.”" Cynthia Haven • Weekly Standard

"The names he used to sign his letters convey a similar breadth of interests: Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve (from an American radio sitcom of the forties and fifties); Mrs Harold Chillywater (from Ronald Firbank); Oriane de Guermantes; Boob McNutt (a 1930s comic strip character); Fleda Vetch (heroine of Henry James’s The Spoils of Poynton); Sybil Fawlty; Pastor Fido (from an opera by Handel); The Countess Gruffanuff (from a Thackeray fairytale); Wackford Squeers and Mrs Fezziwig and Miss Havisham; Miss Turnstiles (from the 1949 movie On the Town); Dagwood Bumstead (from the comic strip Blondie); Diggory Venn (from Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native); Adinolfa, Carmichael, Bob Boucharessas (from Roussel’s Impressions d’Afrique); Marjory Frobisher (from To the Manor Born); The Sea Hag (from Popeye); Puzzled in Pomona; Captain Peacock, Mr Grainger, Cuthbert Rumbold and Young Mr Grace (from Are You Being Served?). Like these characters, John seemed indestructible. I am still finding it hard to believe I have no more of his witty, elegant, erudite, goofy, gossipy, supremely entertaining letters to look forward to – and then to answer as best I could." Mark Ford PN Review
"It was after a December 1963 ocean crossing, nine days in rough weather, that Schifano showed up in New York with his model/art student girlfriend Anita Pallenberg—later the companion of the Rolling Stones’s Brian Jones, until she paired off with bandmate Keith Richards instead—and found a studio sublet at 791 Broadway, where O’Hara and his partner LeSueur were among the neighbors." Barry Schwabsky • NYRB

"I’m not one of these poets who write about how their parents met, or their grandmother’s story, or about my own life." Jane Yeh • The Poetry Extension

"If, as Logan writes later in the same poem, “There was an hour when style was not the cause,” what I have been describing did not occur at such an hour: if this is a failure, it is wholly the result of style." Jack Hanson • Kenyon Review

"Blood may be the physical image that connects all types of violence in Don’t Call Us Dead, but it is also the route to commemoration and love." Sandeep Parmar • Guardian

"I remember, especially, his tug of war with the journalist Matías del Río. Nicanor had agreed to talk to him on the condition that there be no questions or recordings, but del Río took two minutes to break the rules. “You, sir, are a pontificator, and pontiffs belong in Rome,” Nicanor said, suddenly, and walked out without a word." Alejandro Zambra • New Yorker

"The poem’s cast of female characters — princesses, queens, slaves, goddesses — along with its vagueness on the technical details of sailing and war, led Samuel Butler to propose, in his brilliant if zany 1887 book The Authoress of the Odyssey, that the epic was written by a woman." A.E. Stallings • Spectator

New poems

Doireann Ni Ghriofa Poetry Ireland Review

James Galvin The Manchester Review

Paul Batchelor The Compass

Louise Gluck Threepenny Review

Dermot Healy Gallery

Justin Quinn The Manchester Review

Michael Prior The Manchester Review

D.A. Powell The Manchester Review

Terrance Hayes The Baffler

Helen Mort Poetry Review

Kim Mahood Cordite

Sally Ball Scoundrel Time

Daniel Bosch Harvard Review

Colette Bryce Poetry London

Chelsey Minnis Stockholm Review of Literature

Omar Sakr Antic

Lawrence Joseph Commonweal

A.E. Stallings New Criterion

Ada Limon Cortland Review

Hera Lindsay Bird The Spinoff

Dan O'Brien And Other Poems

Fiona Benson Wild Court

Henri Cole The Nation

Mallory Hasty Nonsite

Timothy Donnelly Cortland Review

Paul Muldoon

Kayo Chingonyi Poetry International

Eleanor Wilner Scoundrel Time

Thomas Kinsella PN Review

Rachel Hadas Hudson Review

DA Powell Poetry

Alistair Noon Fortnightly Review

Charles Simic Threepenny Review

Zach Savich Iowa Review

Eric Pankey Diagram

Mimi Khalvati The Compass

Amy Key Granta

Juliana Spahr Harpers

Forrest Gander New Yorker

JD McClatchy Poetry

Stephen Sexton Southword

Doireann Ní Ghríofa The Poetry Review

Fady Joudah Scoundrel Time

Tess Jolly The Compass

sam sax Gulf Coast

Thom Gunn Poetry Archive

Leontia Flynn Poetry Ireland Review

Amina Saïd, tr Marilyn Hacker Words Without Borders

Adam Crothers Manchester Review

Tracy K Smith TriQuarterly

WS de Piero Threepenny Review

Tara Bergin Poetry London

Henri Cole NYRB

Tom French Poetry Daily

Stephen Sexton Southword

Simon Armitage Cordite

Anne Carson Brick

Dawn Watson The Manchester Review

Matthew Welton Shuddhashar

O. Flote The Poetry Review


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