The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"Although the inversion of the adjective “lost” is convenient in terms of rhyme, Clare is too deft a poet for it not to earn its place at the line end: “I am like a memory” would be one thing; “like a memory lost” is a whole other level of displacement, whose effects can be seen in reverse some eight lines later: “Even the dearest that I love the best / Are strange – nay, rather, stranger than the rest” (the half-rhyme, “lost” / “best”, “rest”, picks up the connection). So much depended on recognition that the loss of it renders those who were formerly “dearest”, by a process of logical equivalence, the most strange. The poem was beginning to seep into my being like prophecy. The weeks turned into months, and the months were beginning to tell. There’s guilt – even as I toil up the back of the steep hill beyond my lane to take my daily exercise – that I am relatively unscathed; I am not on the breadline, retain my part-time job. But I am not immune." Jane Feaver The Poetry Review
"Precision marks Starnino on and off the page, the type of skill that recently landed him in Oxford English Dictionary (where poems from Credo were chosen as exemplars for the terms “leaf-light” and “lenten-faced”). No dictionary is required to decode Dirty Words though – it’s as clean cut and satisfying as the pages it’s printed on." Jim Johnstone The Manchester Review
"A poet and the state are at war over historical memory, and it has nothing to do with poetry being “political” or not. In cultures without historical memory, it’s memory that’s political." Valzhyna Mort • McSweeney's

"Titian stayed in the city during the pestilence. He was at least 86; he might have been even older. He may have laboured on a number of paintings, but he definitely worked on one – the Pietà in the Accademia. Hale sees this as a quintessential piece of late work: ‘It is a commemoration of his artistic life, a dialogue with the paintings, sculptures and architecture that had nourished his genius, a final declaration of the capacity of paint to represent and improve upon stone sculpture, and a testament to his devotion to Christ and his mother Mary.’" Colm Toibin LRB
"Several host websites that archive free downloadable and linkable poems, a sign of the low monetary stakes of poetry; no novelist would feel that an institution distributing their work for free was doing them a favor." Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young • ASAP Journal

"She was a radical lesbian separatist who didn’t want men at her readings and would not respond to their questions. She was, it was thought, a humorless scold. Worse, Rich was perceived to have bent her sensitive talent on a political wheel. When Susan Sontag cracked her on the snout in an exchange of views in The New York Review of Books in 1975, referring to her “anti-intellectualism,” it was catnip for what would become my crowd. It took me two decades to push past this and to read Rich on my own." Dwight Garner NYT
"[Jim Quinn] was, at the time, working toward his PhD in English literature — writing a dissertation on the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and lots of his own poetry. But editors who were fans of his food writing started reaching out with assignments." Stephen Fried Phildalphia
"Chandas is also another name for poetic meter, a meaning which is easy to defend because mantras are covered in meters, and meters preserved these vedic mantras. According to 4th century BCE Yaskacharya’s etymological treatise called Nirukta, “chandāṃsi chādanāt” which means that vedic mantras are called chandas because they “cover.” To cover means to keep something covert, to keep a secret. To cover means to protect. Whereas we perish." Mani Rao Almost Island
"There is a depth in Biden’s response to Heaney that clearly goes beyond mere political convenience. He has suffered terrible losses in his life and perhaps he finds particular solace in this poet who voyages into the underworld and speaks with the departed." Jonathan Jones Guardian
"The celestial bodies in orbit around Amis are by now familiar to his devoted readers, both the minor (the Uranus of Wilfred Owen, the Pluto of J. G. Ballard) and the major (the Mars of Philip Larkin, the Venus of James Fenton). Amis has illuminated them all with the life-giving warmth of his brilliant, generous and sometimes unsparing critical writing." Tom Bissell NYT
"Knacky keen and swift was the flighty hare that flitted almost up to me in Fogarty’s near field” begins one breathless event. In another, Grennan wonders what to sing to seals, “those three pitch-eyed salt-slick hound-heads gazing unblinkingly back at me”. Wrens and jackdaws, cows and horses; each meeting with a fellow creature seeks to reach more deeply into “one life, quick-snatched as it’s passing and in vain snatched at”." Michael Viney Irish Times
"He doesn’t even have a name himself. He may have forgotten it. I tried to kill him off at the end of the title poem of Wow, but I suspect he won’t stay dead. There’s life in the old supposed person yet." Bill Manhire Carcanet
"Artaud was the essential modernist, living in a body torn apart, embodying art." Joseph Houlihan • Chicago Review of Books

"The poems, all of them, have that familiar, spare, feel to them ‑ the clarity of cold water, the measured cadence, the plain diction and the leaping insight so characteristic of her mature work ‑ but there is grief here of a depth and of a kind that chills the heart, a near-hopelessness at times, over and over a sense of self-accusation. The last line of “Lost” is “I should have taken more care.”" Theo Dorgan on Eavan Boland DRB
"For several years, writing my verse novel, there was always something to wake up to: a plotline to advance, a character to add flesh to, another couplet to complete. Like an AI come into consciousness, Forgotten Work came to write itself." Jason Guriel • Literary Hub

"I think Larkin is an excellent but limited poet; his three-stage model of poem-writing is, accordingly, excellent but limited." Amit Majmudar • Kenyon Review

"I used to have a poodle that lived with me for eighteen years, and she loved tearing up any paper I crinkled and threw on the floor. It was great fun for her, shredding my bad translations. Now that I don’t have my poodle anymore, I have to do all the shredding, and it’s no fun at all." Don Mee Choi • Words Without Borders

"I refuse to begin this essay with Ingeborg Bachmann’s death..." Reed McConnell • The Point

"Rilke was well aware of connection and influence, faith and the desire to create, the need to be alone, to press an ear against an invisible wall and wait as long as necessary for the words to come." Jena Schmitt • PN Review

"It has been noticed before that this king-size bloke, who once distinguished himself at rugger, handles his materials with rice-paper delicacy. Though equal to large conceptions, he is a lover of fragility and evanescence and excels at the moth-like lyric and crystal image." Derek Mahon on Longley Literary Review (2007)
"His English is impressive, sometimes even showy. During his later years he was known for his essays as much as his poetry – and these, despite a maddeningly breezy tone, are often brilliant. Several, like those on Frost and Auden, are masterpieces of critical exposition. The autobiographical ones are among the best (‘Spoils of War’, ‘The Condition We Call Exile’); and Watermark, his book about Venice (yet another book about Venice), has wonderful moments of delighted imagery. Noting the violin necks of gondolas, he says ‘the whole city, especially at night, resembles a gigantic orchestra’, and he records memorable reflections about water, time and monsters (basilisks, sphinxes, winged lions, chimeras) – ‘our self-portraits, in the sense that they denote [our] genetic memory of evolution’." Derek Mahon on Brodsky Literary Review (2011)
"Though certain poems have been singled out for especial assent – “Carrowdore”, “The Last of the Fire Kings”, “A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford” (of course), “Courtyards in Delft” and so on – you could say that Mahon never wrote a line that doesn’t scintillate with a wayward brilliance – and this is true of his prose as well as his poetry. I’m thinking, for example, of the extraordinary essay called “Huts and Sheds”: a product of Mahon’s awesome erudition and concomitant lightness of touch, and written as an oblique tribute to the yen for solitude." Patricia Craig DRB
"Temperamentally, Glück was the sort of poet “who [loves] perfection more than life,” as Bertrand Russell wrote. But unlike “the mathematician, the logician, the builder of metaphysical systems” and others to whom Russell attributed a Platonistic cast of mind, Glück was concerned not just with the abstract but with “the world of existence … fleeting, vague, without sharp boundaries.” This posed a problem: life, uncertain, disappointed her. What somewhat redeemed the imperfection of life was the relative perfection of art. Poetry “is a form/ of suffering,” she writes—a kind of suffering, sure, but also a form, with a fixed and definite shape." Adam Plunkett The New Republic
"Her poems are controlled and highly charged, restrained but also exposed, unafraid of and perhaps also terrified by outcry. Glück has described “harnessing the power of the unfinished”, to create a whole that does not lose the dynamic presence of what remains incomplete: “I dislike poems that feel too complete, the seal too tight; I dislike being herded into certainty.”" Colm Tóibín Guardian
"Poetry has an advantage for the sprinting student. It entails the least reading… There is no ‘fiction’ or ‘drama’ establishment or Ofqual would have heard from them long ago about the either/or – as though there was some generic or qualitative equivalence. Poetry has had a louder institutional claque all along." Michael Schmidt PN Review
"In 1975 I met the poet Gerard Fanning in UCD and he told me he had an early copy of the new book by Derek Mahon, ‘The Snow Party’ and if I came to his house on Foster Avenue that evening, I could look at it with him. It was just two dozen poems, thirty-eight pages. There was an extraordinary clarity and ease in the tone, a light metre; the voice that was wry and understated, but also careful that the emotion would not exceed its cause. It was strange how affecting lines like: ‘I am going home by sea/ For the first time in years’ could be, and how instantly memorable some phrases were, such as ‘The prisoners of infinite choice’ or ‘Even now there are places where a thought might grow.’ We knew that night that we were reading poems that would be there forever, relished by readers all over the world for as long as time lasts. We held the book like it was gold." Colm Tóibín Irish Times
"But I also think that women are the masters of finding and using bits of time — rather than thinking, like, I need to be at a writer’s retreat, or, Everyone in the house must fall silent until it’s time for my cocktail, because that’s not what life is like. I would think of Lucille Clifton making poems at the kitchen table with six kids around her." Elizabeth Alexander • The Cut

"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



New poems

Du Fu, tr Wong May PN Review

Andrew Kerr The Manchestrer Review

Paula Cunningham The Irish Times

Louise Gluck New Yorker

Derek Mahon PN Review

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



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