The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"Emily Dickinson, for example, masterfully simplified complex topics with poems like “Because I could not stop for Death,” and many poets are similarly adept. Business leaders live in multifaceted, dynamic environments. Their challenge is to take that chaos and make it meaningful and understandable. Reading and writing poetry can exercise that capacity, improving one’s ability to better conceptualize the world and communicate it — through presentations or writing — to others." John Coleman Harvard Business Review
"Poetry is an ancient art; it’s our communal language. Poetry is not written for experts and it’s not written for scholars and it doesn’t belong to the priests of literature, it belongs to the people. I know a lot of poets, and I don’t know a single one of them that thinks they write for scholars — they write for other human beings." Matthew Zapruder • LA Times
"On 11 May 1922, Marina and Alya boarded a train at the Vindavskii (now Rizhskii) railway station. The train took them to Riga, where they caught another train to Berlin. Alya in her memoir, Marina Tsvetaeva: My Mother, records a list of thirteen valuable items Marina decided to take with her. It includes two I find most interesting: a papier-mâché pencil holder and a bronze inkpot with a drummer painted on the outside." Subhash Jaireth • Sydney Review of Books
"What the speaker enters could be love; it could be water; it could be both. When I read that I felt really emotional. That’s what happens to me when I’m in water." Amy Key • The Poetry Extension
"If the struggle of the modernists was to make peace with bureaucratic institutions without compromising the purity and quality of their work, the question for those who have come after them has been whether to challenge or sustain that peace. The modernist union of poetry, criticism, and bureaucracy has had many obvious benefits: Certainly the levels of comfort, prosperity, and productivity enjoyed by several generations of Anglo-American poets from the postwar era onward as a result of their connection to bureaucratic institutions are nothing to minimize." Evan Kindley Chronicle of Higher Education
" But this is the first publication of new material that precedes Oppen’s storied twenty-five years of silence between the publication of Discrete Series and his next book, The Materials, in 1962. 21 Poems nearly doubles the size of Oppen’s early and influential corpus, and happily, the poems themselves are fascinating." David B Hobbs NYRB
"In one last example, let's return to Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing. His first rule (#1!) is “Never open a book with weather.”" Ben Blatt PW
"Tom Raworth’s poetry can be read, then, as if Tom’s performance underscores the work’s quick-fire wit. But his masque of collaged differentials also invites slower, more accumulative readings, readings that take note of the decisions and judgments, the omissions and abstractions that make up the texture of his poetry’s knowing condensations. Put simply, Tom knew what he was doing, and what he wasn’t, and not just intuitively. Although he avoided offering a poetics or theory, his writerly practice nevertheless articulates implicit principles of construction. His knowing skill is evident in the comparative absence of traces of literary influence: his occasional borrowings are made new. In conversation, Tom often revealed an exceptionally precise power of recall, and the absence of clumsy repetitions of his or anyone else’s writing speaks to his powers of memory." Drew Milne PN Review
"That it inhabits the uncertain territory between dream and meaning is one of my chief pleasures when reading it." Anthony Wilson Lifesaving Poems
"In one of my favorite Ashbery poems, the early “They Dream Only of America,” whose title always brings to my mind Alfred Stieglitz’s beautiful photograph juxtaposing first-class and steerage passengers arriving in the U.S. (“The Steerage”), John characterizes the poem’s nameless “they” as “lost among the thirteen million pillars of grass”—a profoundly witty amalgam of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, now replaced by the pillars of the urban landscape, the original Thirteen Colonies, the fate of Lot’s Wife—don’t look back!—and the immigrant dream of the millions of new arrivals in America." Marjorie Perloff • Boston Review
"A lot like the late T.F. Griffin, Ian Parks is an outlier of British poetry whose writing was spotted and praised early by figures whose judgement we would do well attend to. With Griffin, it was Philip Larkin who provided the encomium; with Parks, it is Donald Davie, who commented that Park’s voice was ‘spare, lyrical, memorable and intense’, and remarked on ‘the sheer force of his poetic identity.’ Over the years, that voice has become more particularised; an Ian Parks poem is instantly recognisable. But the lyricism, which has characterised his writing from those early days, has remained as intense, as spare and as memorable as ever." Ian Pople Manchester Review
"This casual attitude toward what would turn out to be one of the masterpieces of world literature is puzzling, even in someone as unpredictable as its author." John Ashbery Poetry "As was his way, Ashbery went off and championed the dead-pan figuration of Alex Katz and the work of Jane Freilicher, Robert Dash and Fairfield Porter. That was a typical twist of Ashbery’s Moebius strip, to champion figurative art while writing surreal poems. But again, it was the material sense of the thing, how it was done, which distinguished a work, not so much the orthodoxy to which it adhered. There was something of the dandyesque about this aesthetic. A fastidious sense of the eccentric." Anthony Howell Fortnightly Review
"I opened Facebook on Tuesday and found that poets were contributing to what was already a long list of sentences beginning, “Reading a John Ashbery poem is like …” I didn’t attempt a contribution then, but I will do so here." Rae Armantrout NYT
"What the poet owes or doesn’t owe to the world around him or her is a familiar subject. Conscription adds another layer: conscribing a poet to a cause, or an event, or an occasion, or an ideology, may sound coercive. But the fact remains that many poets of worth and reach have been taken out of their comfort zone by an occasion or commitment and have documented that transit with powerful work. Yet today, so much has changed – so many new voices, so many different tonal registers – that the idea of the conscripted poet has had to change as well." Eavan Boland Poetry Ireland Review
"As I remember it, the lecture on King Lear completely transformed my sense of the play I’d studied at A-level by describing it as a clash of generations, between ‘the flashy old and the spivvy new’. The new way of perceiving the play’s conflict was powerful, the fact that it had been produced by those two surprising, non-standard English adjectives was linguistically liberating." John Whale Stand
"Local color doesn’t disclose value or inquire into value. It’s mostly a collection of icons. It estranges poets from their material and becomes the kind of irony that baffles revelation." WS de Piero Threepenny Review
"It’s not that I don’t believe my poems can be improved; it’s that I have no idea how I, the I that I am now, can do it. There’s almost a metaphysics to this resistance. “Neither am I convinced,” wrote Basil Bunting, “that the poems that bear my name are not the work of some other person, long vanished, whose passport and pension card I have somehow inherited.” Part of poetry’s mystery has always been its estranging quality; the “one rapture of an inspiration,” when it descends, feels alien to my nature. And so I have never believed Valéry’s (sneakily self-congratulatory) insistence that a poem is never completed, only abandoned." Nate Klug Threepenny Review
"Anyone reading Mlinko needs a refresher course on the meanings of “craquelure” and “combinatorics” and many other words that would not be out of place in Wallace Stevens’s “Harmonium,” a strong forebear of Mlinko’s style. I read Mlinko with my phone at the ready: Googling wildly, I must look as if I were day-trading or refreshing Twitter. And yet this work has more in common with the gregarious poems of Frank O’Hara than with the rarefied art pieces of early Merrill or Anthony Hecht. A writer with a big vocabulary and lots of learning can be spontaneous, too." Dan Chiasson New Yorker
"Would one of the greatest poems in the English language have turned out differently, had he not visited Italy? Moshenska has no doubts, believing the Italy that Milton experienced in his youth was a well upon which the older poet drew for some of his most evocative, detailed passages." Jamie Doward Guardian
"You can no more say what an Ashbery poem is about than you can say what a laughing hyena is about. The limits of sense, the tomfoolery that isn’t quite foolery, the impending doom that never pends—all the poems are about poetry, more or less. They’re like watching a man on a distant breakwater. From his panicky gestures and his leaps and caracoles you know something is terribly wrong, unless he’s just rehearsing the fencing scene in Hamlet." William Logan New Criterion
"While lamenting the fact that no publishers would deign to put out his work, Knott turned down publishing offers from big presses like Farrar, Straus and Giroux (which, while he was alive, put out his 2004 volume The Unsubscriber and wanted to continue working with him on other volumes) and well-known small presses like Black Ocean. Instead, he released his own collections online, maintaining that the “vanity” publishing of his work was something he was reduced to when, in fact, he willfully chose that route. The “traditional” publication of Knott’s poetry was, to be sure, desired by multiple outside parties." Jeff Alessandrelli Lithub
"The Lice foreshadows our current political climate, as though Merwin were somehow reflecting from the future. “The judges have chains in their sleeves / To get where they are,” he writes in “Bread at Midnight.” “Caesar” ends with a ghastly image of a dictator who is both tyrant and puppet. The speaker has the horrific job of transporting the leader, “Wheeling the president past banks of flowers / Past the feet of empty stairs / Hoping he’s dead.” Those banks of flowers call our attention to the hellscape that the environment has become. If these banks of flowers are natural, they’re in stark contrast to the president, forcing his control and reign over the world. More likely, they’re banks of flowers planted where they don’t belong, heaped in forced, funereal abundance in celebration of a tyrant." Adrienne Raphel Poetry
"There’s only one full-dress essay in the book, and it’s much more heavy-duty than the rest. The subject is the poetry of Frederick Seidel, and the essay handles a familiar critical problem—the morality of bad taste, the Jeff Koons–Michel Houellebecq–Bret Easton Ellis problem—expertly if not entirely originally. The essay does include observations like “The death drive is figured here as the desire to literalize the trope of the subject’s dispersal.” When I hear the words “literalize the trope,” I reach for my remote. Hyperbole is an ever-present danger up there on the high-low tightrope. What helps the critic keep his or her balance is the acknowledgment that it is hyperbole, that there is a rhetoric of aesthetic experience—the experience of reading poems or listening to songs we’re strongly attached to—that is always in excess of the actual content." Louis Menand New Yorker
"The Soviet Writers’ Union had been able to give writers enough to live on after publishing a book or a collection of poems in some literary magazine — for the official writers, of course, not to the authors of samizdat. You could live for three years after publishing a book, but it had to be a bad book, because it was the result of an inner compromise. Nevertheless, lots of people had the feeling that they could stay themselves and still, somehow, occupy some cozy step on the enormous staircase of the official Soviet literary establishment. When the system crashed, people were disappointed and disorientated. By 1992 or 1993, it became evident that the utopia wasn’t working anymore, especially for poets. It became evident that a book of poetry would never have a press run of more than 2,000 copies. It would never bring you money or even fame. I saw people crushed, melted, changed because of that. They had relied on a system that had suddenly vanished into thin air. They were still willing to make compromises, but there was no longer anyone to make a compromise with." Maria Stepanova LARB
"It can be argued she is referring to a more general language exercised in American documents, including American poetry. “Whereas” is an excavation, reorganization and documentation of a structure of language that has talked the United States through its many acts of violence. This book troubles our consideration of the language we use to carry our personal and national narratives." Natalie Diaz on Layli Long Soldier NYT
"[Tara Bergin's] The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx might sound gloomy and, as a title, even mock-Shakespearean, but it is an exhilarating read, daring, original and very funny." John McAuliffe Irish Times
"Pantling’s fine book from Smith Doorstop is yet another of those books which is likely to slip rather unnoticed beneath the average poetry buyer’s gaze. That is a great pity, because as a kind of ‘state-of-the-nation’ volume it is exemplary. And even that undersells Pantling’s rich, adroit, poetic skills." Ian Pople Manchester Review
"Lucretius, born in Rome in 99BC, in his great poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) sought to rid us of our superstitions and make us see and love the world for what it is, not for what we imagine it to be. “There is a sense of luminous calm and serenity about the poem,” Rovelli observes, “which comes from understanding that there are no capricious gods demanding of us difficult things, and punishing us.”" John Banville Irish Times
"AB: Can we finish with some discussion of Channel 4 and what’s wrong with it?
DA: Wrong? What could possibly be wrong with poking fun at plebs, reality tv featuring rampant narcissists and endless advice on how to make money out of a housing bubble? You’re so moralistic, Alfie." Alfie Bown and David Alderson HKRB
"My entire room is decorated with pictures of the Rosetta Stone and Stonehenge and Roman columns and the wonders of the ancient world, but I’m also a true contemporary dirtbag, and I love Paris Hilton and figure skating rivalries and Liza Minelli made-for-TV movies. Basically, what I am trying to say is all of the imagery and references in my poetry are things that I deeply love, and want to include regardless of how thematically relevant they are to the poem." Hera Lindsay Bird • Cordite
"In that case, perhaps what Kavanagh sees as a piece of stoical gallows-humour could also be read as a tongue-in-cheek tiff in which God and man merely squabble over who is the bigger disappointment." Andrew McCulloch TLS
"It’s not about dry or pedantic interpretation, or the deadening jargon most of us were taught in school. It’s about how poets write, and how people feel when they read poems and say them aloud." Joan Wickersham • Boston Globe
"Zagajewski can seem anachronistically highbrow: “Poets who listen to pop music — their numbers are growing — don’t seem to have … mystical leanings.” Once I unroll my eyes, I can see that Zagajewski is much attracted by “the ineffable,” by which he means, I think, what can’t be perceived entirely by the senses. He pokes fun at himself about this, or allows his father to. A journalist asks about an essay in which Zagajewski claimed settled people prefer painting while displaced people prefer music, “the most metaphorical of the arts” — metaphor being that which moves the literal toward the ineffable. “Slight exaggeration,” says Zagajewski’s father, an engineer — unwittingly giving name to this book. Zagajewski retorts: “A good definition of poetry … a slight exaggeration, until we make ourselves at home in it. Then it becomes the truth. But when we leave it again — since permanent residence is impossible — it becomes once more a slight exaggeration.”" Daisy Fried NYT
"Ever since I have first begun reading his work, I felt that here is somebody who has taken coincidence head-on. He braves constellations that illuminate life’s dazzling diversity in a flash. His poetry, his prose (one may not be sundered from the other in his case) is in search of immediate insight, among philosophers also commonly referred to as evidence. The image-complex is at the core of his poetics. The image contains an abundance of vantage points, an entire gallery of images. In his texts one may wander about like in a Baroque cabinet of wonders, a hermitage with walls covered from top to bottom with paintings in the style of the Petersburg Hanging." Durs Grunbein PI Online
"Despite the prevailing logic of the time, Miłosz would later write that “Representing a country that was turned into the province of a totalitarian foreign state was wrong and degrading, which I feel ashamed of today.”" Scott Beauchamp DRB
"Anyway I took these and other notes, before halfway through ‘A TUMOUR…’ I became suspicious of my suspicions, and Atkins emerged over a few pages as perhaps the most imaginative, sincere, and horribly, gloriously intent contemporary writer – certainly from Britain – I’ve read. Excess is part of it: after a while it’s pointless to complain about the ‘lack of economy’ or scary-funny fluency with which he switches up registers – it’s better just to stay alert and let the astonishments happen. The choicest of these occur between hiccupping interjections of the body – um’s, er’s, erratic BLOCK CAPS – and a woundingly offhand blokiness – ‘Chin up matey’, ‘Classic stuff, that’ (‘he do masculinity in different voices’, as one blurb promises)." Sam Riviere Poetry London
"I don’t in any way regret this exhumation; it corrects a serious error of memory in the dispersed and numinous mind of the “poetry audience” and demands respect for ways of writing poetry which are vulnerable to populist disdain." Peter Riley Fortnightly Review
"In the Beats they found a compelling image of the poet as adventurer, visionary, outsider, and intellectual provocateur. And in Hora Zero they found an attractive conception of the literary text as a “poema integral, ” a total or comprehensive poem that would incorporate a mixture of languages and genres into the text as a way of representing the full integration of the poet into all areas of life. A year after the publication of the Zarazo tabloid, Santiago Papasquiaro met Bolaño and several other young poets who shared his neo-avant-garde position and became the first recruits of his projected group." Ruben Medina Chicago Review
"It wasn’t until I was translated into German, by (the poet and novelist) Marcel Beyer, that I appreciated how devious I was in English. Deviousness, for me, is a prime quality of English—English English, that is. I don’t know that Americans do devious, and if they do, then it comes out different. Maybe high-energy devious." Michael Hofmann • Asymptote
"Whitman, who would go on, during the Civil War, to volunteer at an Army hospital, vacillates between empathy and disgust for such infirmities. He doesn’t so much sing the body electric as linger on the sad sack whose “joints move like those of some rusty machine,” whose “bowels are clogged with accumulations of fearful impurity, like sewers that have been stopped.”" Dan Piepenbring • The New Yorker
"This is primarily because Vuong possesses a large and unusual imagination, but the road he has taken to poetry is also a factor: he was born in Vietnam and emigrated to the US after a spell in a refugee camp; he is also gay. Being a Trump-voter’s worst nightmare seems to have provided him with a unique and often comic perspective on Western language and life." Paul Batchelor on Vuong, O'Riordan and Bryce New Statesman
"That’s one of our great societal difficulties with poetry; we can’t accept that it’s as it is, because we’ve been taught to believe that it’s about something else. We’re always looking for the something else it’s about. It’s a banal thing to say, but it accounts for a lot of trouble that readers get into." Paul Muldoon Princeton News
"The Soviet educational system was dominated by the atheism that she abhorred, but precisely why she was singled out for such inhuman treatment remains a mystery. One might have expected that she would have been given an intimidating rebuke by the KGB and dismissed from her job. Instead she found herself confronting the full force of the Soviet law, but poetry in Russia was always dangerous." Michel Bourdeaux Guardian
"Kleinzahler wants to capture experiences live, before they are recorded and mediated. He is always aiming for the moment of potential when something – in this case, history itself – is up for grabs. An impossible ambition perhaps but one that can produce thrillingly various results." Paul Batchelor New Statesman
"On 5 January 1934 he writes to Marianne Moore to suggest a new, expanded selection of her poems ‘to be put on the London market again’. This is followed, on the same day, by a letter to Harriet Weaver about the possibility of publishing Ulysses, an earlier attempt, by the Egoist Press, having been frustrated by the Home Office and the Customs who seized it as ‘obscene’. Two days later he writes to Ezra Pound, in a playful spirit, that if he is coarse (his caps), ‘as my old friend Winthrop Sprague Brooks used to say, I’ll be horse-fucked.’ Haffenden tells us about Mr Brooks but does not expand on ‘horse-fucked’." Michael Schmidt PN Review
"His visitors ranged from illustrious old friends, such as T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams, to eager younger poets, such as Robert Lowell and Allen Ginsberg, to less savoury members of the real lunatic fringe, among them the violent white sup­rem­acist John Kasper, whose neo-Nazi views “Uncle Ez” warmly supported and encouraged. To the end Pound remained an anti-Semite, but now he added black Americans and civil rights protesters to his roster of well-nurtured hatreds." Eric Ormsby • TLS
"“If you believe you’re a citizen of the world,” according to Theresa May, “you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.” In the context of the Brexit negotiations, the enduring refugee crisis, the Trump presidency, tabloid xenophobia and the alarming rise in racist assaults since the EU Referendum, this kind of political illiteracy cannot be challenged often enough." Andy Croft Morning Star
"It was as if the bass on a sound system had been turned too soft. Was Shivanee Ramlochan’s poetry sounding out as it should – disturbing the heart’s function, not just thrilling or pleasing it? For the scope and foci of her writing are deeply and subtly offensive, both to the internationally marketed ‘Caribbean woman’ image, and to the strand of conservatism at home in the region (and not without its mirrors or twins elsewhere)." Vahni Capildeo the Poetry Review
"And for someone such as me, who often has a seat at the table, what is the role of tokenism, which I consider to be one of the most egregious and insidious pillars of oppression? Social media is the global platform for marginalized groups. It is certainly where black women communicate without being brokered by the mainstream – the white editors, producers and institutions who decide whose voices are heard. Online, our ideas and experiences are shared, honed and validated between ourselves. It is no coincidence that Reni Eddo-Lodge arose out of this blogosphere full of chutzpah. But it is a sign of the times that such a forthright book about Britain has been taken on by a major publisher. One hopes it will open the door to many more." Bernardine Evaristo TLS
"This just shows how incomplete every published account is – and, yes, I could do with another book about poetry in the cotton towns. Wilkinson mentions my work at one point and criticises it. The convention is to reply to these things, so I apologise if this is egoistic. He takes me down for mentioning Jim Burns but not discussing his work as magazine editor. OK, this is true. But there were 2000 magazines in the 60s." Andrew Duncan Litter
"The quality of anger is usually strained, but Williams’s muse was fuelled by a witty and beautiful anger that he channelled in three great poems at the end of the 1980s: Whale Nation, a wonderful hymn to the largest of all the mammals and a plea for their protection, Sacred Elephant, and Autogeddon, a JG Ballard-style ballad about the plague of the motor car. All three were filmed by the BBC, the third performed by Jeremy Irons." Michael Coveney Guardian
"Welton has cited numerous influences, from Gertrude Stein to Raymond Roussel. But, to this reader, the two most important ones are Wallace Stevens and Raymond Queneau. Stevens was using repetition as early as his first collection, “Harmonium” in 1923; his poem “Sea Surface Full of Clouds”, seems to be a foundational text for Matthew Welton’s poetry." Alan Baker Litter
"Part of Milosz’s lifelong project was to write as if poetry “is no longer a foreigner in society,” to make a poetic model out of shared trauma." Edward Hirsch New Republic
"He had already thought through some thought that I was presently struggling with. He had thought it through carefully and had articulated, in a way that profoundly resonated with me, what it meant to be a poet from the Caribbean, what it meant to speak one language while committing another to the page." Kei Miller PN Review
"I admit, I thought that ‘writing what I knew’, in this case, was a complete cop-out. The reason why I hadn’t written about disability before, I reasoned, was because I was more than that. (Read that last sentence in the most pompous voice you have. I dare you.)" Kit Kavanagh-Ryan Cordite
"There is a corner of English poetry which is forever Georgian." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"With ‘Life scarce can cast a fragrance on the wind’, there is no hesitation. As we accede to this boldly memorable, lapidary eloquence, we can see what Larkin has learned from Yeats, even as he turns instead to Hardy’s more modest example: ‘What will survive of us is love.’" Craig Raine Arete
"“The Nobel,” he says. “That I kept it in proportion – the way most of the world didn’t. But I have had to be very judicious answering questions about Seamus since he’s been turned into a kind of saint.”" Michael Longley Irish Times
"Churchyard was no less keen on the use of words as weapons. Woodcock finds that his “dominant character” is “Churchyard the complainant or petitioner”, adopted right from his first publication, Davy Dycars Dreame (1551). Emulating Langland and Skelton, he sets out the social and economic grievances of the common man (in this case a “dyker”, a ditcher or labourer) in a broadside poem which provoked a print controversy comprising sixteen further works by various authors." Helen Hackett TLS
"Well the sonnet is an obsessional form. Its intellectual skeleton is opposition, its form is imbalance, the impatient compression of its concluding section (whether six, four, three or two lines) always leaving a question only temporarily settled, so the writer is invited or compelled to return to the charge, as in a domestic argument: “ … And another thing”. Eilean Ni Chuilleanain DRB
"The curse poem is a well-known Irish literary genre, especially in the Gaelic tradition Hartnett inherited through his Kerry-born grandmother, one of the last native Irish speakers in west Limerick." Frank McNally Irish Times
"After the discovery of a cache of Boswell manuscripts in 1929, Woolf’s diary records her feelings about the find: “Think! There are 18 volumes of Boswell’s diaries now to be published. With any luck I shall live to read them. I feel as if some dead person were said to be living after all”." Rachel Bowlby TLS
"The most discerning portrait in The Bread of Time is the one of Yvor Winters, whom [Philip] Levine got to know after Iowa when he was awarded the Jones Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University in 1957. At one time a well-known poet and literary critic, Winters started out in the 1920s as an admirer and imitator of the Imagist poets, only to turn against modernism completely and propose a neoclassical poetics that was supposed to take its place." Charles Simic • NYRB
"When people ask me about writing poetry in collaboration, I tell them that writing collaboratively is a way to shake up your creative process, to make it new. Is this is true? I don’t feel any freer than I ever did, when I sit down to write. The most startling moment in my collaboration with Fowler came late, when we were revising the manuscript. We had gone through several rounds of revisions, rearrangements, and edits, tinkering with the manuscript. Suddenly, Fowler wrote to ask if he could attack the text and revise it radically—“be rampant,” in his words. Without a second thought, I said yes: this sounded wonderful. When Fowler’s revision arrived in my inbox, I was both horrified and embarrassed by my own horror. I couldn’t fathom what he had done." Ailbhe Darcy Critical Flame
"Unlike the word ‘O’, the word ‘Dear’ doesn’t offer the same echoes of Shelley or Blake or Horace. Yet more and more often it is being used to remarkably similar effect, as a way of ironising the act of waxing poetical while, at the same time, continuing to avail the poet of all the resources of the lyric." Anna Jackson PN Review
"It is interesting how evolution in one writer can win praise, and in another be disparaged. What I want to look at here is how, in her suite of three sermons on the warpland, we can see Brooks finding a way to adapt, rather than sacrifice, her mastery of prosody to her new sense of blackness; and across the three sermons, we can see, as well, an enactment of Brooks’s wrestling with, straddling, and ultimately reconciling the seeming conflict between English prosody and the language of black revolution." Carl Phillips Poetry
"While the crowd had listened politely to the assembled dignitaries, including the Bishop of Manchester, the Home Secretary, Jeremy Corbyn, and Andy Burnham, the new Mayor of Greater Manchester, it was Walsh’s poem – a celebration of the city as tough, defiant, welcoming – that drove the crowd, like a conductor, from raucous cheers to spellbound silence. In sharp contrast to Walsh’s poem, an academic study I recently read claims that terrorism “is first and foremost discourse”, which made me unsure about Auden’s assertion that “Accurate scholarship can / Unearth the whole offence . . . / That has driven a culture mad”." Douglas Field TLS
"The only reasoned and lucid response to the human condition, Leopardi decided, was despair: hence all positive action and happiness must always have the quality of illusion." Tim Parks NYRB
"I was aware of a number of [Liam Miller, editor of Dolmen Press]'s early books as they passed through the stages of publication. I was aware of a proposed book by Seamus Heaney. Miller was glad to add this to the body of new Irish poetry gathering around the press. I was enthusiastic, even without seeing the full contents. I had seen some of Heaney’s early poems and knew he was important. A strong image out of Bogland described what I myself had seen in the dark hall of the Natural History Museum: 'They’ve taken the skeleton / Of the Great Irish Elk / Out of the peat, and set it up, / An astounding crate full of air.'" Thomas Kinsella Irish Times
"Students of lyric are often eager to attempt to show that the contemporary lyric is politically radical and disruptive — usually because of its parody of dominant discourses or because of its linguistic deformations of ordinary ways of making sense — but it is hard to demonstrate that the presence of such strategies in poems has the desired effects." Jonathan Culler LARB
"Why was I suspicious, and why might others be anxious about seeing poetry funding data presented in this way (despite of course, it already being public). You can’t help but be hypnotised by some of the figures here. My first instinct was to find the highest single award (FYI, it is £543,500, awarded to[...])" Lucy Burns The Manchester Review
"True originality is baffling. Perhaps it’s just hard for the rest of the herd to know what to make of the sui generis blue kangaroo. What would the typical, straight-forward sincerest of the meditative-narrative mode of the 1980’s do with [Bill] Knott’s constant tone switching, sonically-fuelled image mash-ups, and his puns, doubletalk and neologisms?" David Rivard B O D Y
"Today, Forrest-Thomson is more relevant than ever. Although her voice might have gone underground for decades, the questions she raises go straight to the core of problems that plague poets today: How can you create a genuine experience in a poem? What can a poem do that other artistic media can’t? What is the purpose of writing a poem?" Adrienne Raphel Poetry
"Of course, I'm older now and, inevitably, less judgmental. I have also observed, over time, how more dignified, serious-minded poets have cultivated their reputations via the critical-academic establishment route—those tireless, decades-long campaigns for Pulitzers, even the Nobel, with all the bartering, double crosses, and leveraging that entails. Of course, this takes place behind the veneer of priestly devotion to the Art of Poesia, the life of the spirit and all that. Ginsberg, at least, made no pretense about it. He was, figuratively, on the busiest street corner in town, jealous of his position there, and with his skirt up over his head, wiggling his hairy old ass for whatever it was worth." August Kleinzahler Poetry Daily
"It is not purely a bitter coincidence that in his 1913 essay “The Morning of Acmeism” he asserts, “To exist is the artist’s greatest pride. He desires no other paradise than existence . . .” He goes on to describe Acmeism’s simple humanism and individualism – as opposed to the exclusivist mysticism of what had gone before – thus: “There is no equality, there is no competition, there is only the complicity of all who conspire against emptiness and non-existence. Love the existence of the thing itself and your own existence more than yourself: that is Acme­ism’s highest commandment.” Towards the end of his life he was also reported, by Akhmatova, to have described Acmeism as “a homesickness for world culture”." Eimear McBride New Statesman
" Just as the British tradition offers no equivalent to Walt Whitman’s poetry of the Civil War, so the American tradition seems to lack its Owen. Searching through A. Scott Berg’s excellent anthology, World War I and America, one comes up with very little poetry at all—Robert Frost’s “Not to Keep,” a passage from Ezra Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley”—until, near the end, with a grin of recognition, one turns to E.E. Cummings’s sardonic and, for 1926, audacious “my sweet old etcetera.” A trench poem indeed, whose author had served in the ambulance corps. But Cummings seems a very long way from Owen." James Fenton NYRB
"The main thing I did was the text for a piece that was composed for an orchestra and a chorus of about 1200 people, and it was called "One Hundred Years a Nation," music by Sean [sic] Davey, presented in Collin's [sic] Barracks, which is the old British Army headquarters in Dublin, and presented on Easter Sunday. I'd written a poem called "1916: The Eoghan Rua Variations," which was also read over the course of the week, in the National Concert Hall. I also put together another show, in the National Concert Hall, of Irish writers, poets, novelists, and playwrights. Then I did something in the Dublin Writers' Center for another poem I'd been commissioned to write, which is about Padraig Pearse and the General Post Office in Dublin.[...] I mean there is a theory that all poems are commissioned in some sense. Andrew Motion, for example, the former poet Laureate of England, of the U.K., which is a job that involves a lot of commissions, feels that everything, in some sense, is commissioned. You set yourself the job of writing something. I, myself, don't quite go so far as that, because I try to do as little work as possible." Paul Muldoon APR
"Edith Hall, editor of this selection of Harrison’s prose, is a distinguished and energetic professor of Greek who once worked with the Scottish miners’ leader Mick McGahey. She calls attention to the way “Harrison has found in classical antiquity his most fruitful medium for discussing the class politics of art”. She understands his political anger as well as his artistic generosity." Robert Crawford Guardian
"Bryce casts light, from odd angles, on what is hidden in a series of brilliant self-portraits, sometimes with others, sometimes alone and, recurrently, featuring a stationary car. There is a giddy delight in Car Wash where Bryce and her partner find themselves “delighted by a wholly / unexpected privacy / of soap suds pouring, no, / cascading in velvety waves”, so that “what can we do”, she writes, “but engage in a kiss / in a world where to do so / can still stop the traffic.”" John McAuliffe Irish Times
"There is another reason. Sissay has found it too painful to read all his files, let alone the psychologist’s report. He says he will find it easier in the theatre." Lemn Sissay Guardian
"Frazier’s chief contribution is to shrink Yeats in Gonne’s life and to detail the extent and nature of her political affiliations and actions in France, of which Yeats and her own followers (some of them blind followers) were largely ignorant. As a result, Gonne is liberated (though her shade may regret this) from the Yeats oeuvre to become a larger, more complex and more dangerous figure certainly than I realised." John Wilson Foster DRB
"Glimpsed through the lens of [Malcolm] Guite’s biography, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” constitutes, as it were, the “involucrum” of Coleridge’s existential chrysalis: a chamber into which the poet’s emergent self will eventually swell." Kelly Grovier TLS
"There is more to be said elsewhere, but it offered a fascinating oversight into contemporary poetry among writers likely to enter competitions—many of whom seemed to have only the vaguest idea of what a poem was. (Slap some rhymes down, give it some ‘fine feeling’, et voila!)." Gerry Cambridge The Dark Horse
"To return once more to Cassandra, [Anne] Carson envisions that the poet, like the prophet, must ‘prove to you that she is a prophet by telling you unbelievable news, which you will only believe if you already regard her as a prophet’ (‘Cassandra Float Can’). Such a tautology, as Carson calls it, could invite allegations of pushing a ‘low-stakes’ approach to writing poetry." Alexa Winik The Scores
"Elizabeth Bishop’s Complete Poems." Jenny Bornholdt NZ Poetry Shelf
"To some extent this is ground that Kennard has covered before, but Cain is an altogether darker creation, written from the doldrums between youth and middle-age (the stretch that people who don’t hate themselves call their “prime”)." Paul Batchelor New Statesman
"A chronicle of modern St. Lucia, it was also an epic of the New World, weaving from its characters’ encounters with history a deeper, vaster story on a sunken loom. On walks down the Lenape Trail near my childhood home in New Jersey, I listened for the lost Indian languages Walcott heard in the woodcutters’ pyre: “a resinous bonfire that turned the leaves brown/ with curling tongues, then ash, and their language was lost.”" Julian Lucas NYT
"“Poems are visible right now, which is terribly ironic, because you rather wish it weren’t so necessary,” [Jane Hirshfield] said. “When poetry is a backwater it means times are O.K. When times are dire, that’s exactly when poetry is needed.”" Alexandra Alter NYT
"The mother is more appealing, as she struggles to grasp her daughter’s online fame. “No, no, no, no, no, no, Mom,” Patricia [Lockwood] says regarding the viral rape poem. “You must never look at the comments.” “Do not post this on the internet,” Mom vainly commands at another point." Suzi Feay FT
"Lewis’s husband was the poet and critic Yvor Winters. I knew about and read Winters during my graduate work in English in the nineties and early aughts. But I’d never heard of Janet Lewis. Having now read two of her novels and a number of poems, this shocks me. I mean, it does and it doesn’t." Karen Solie Brick
"It’s also brave to choose NOT to speak out of your ‘identity’, though it can feel like you’re letting the side down. It’s ok not to be a ‘voice’. It’s ok to watch the shadows playing on the wall, or listen to the west wind, and quietly bring them into a poem for their own sake. It’s a Paleolithic eye that’s doing the watching, after all, evolved of the deep ongoing human journey. An ancient listening ear which is also your own. How you see and listen is part of your own self." Kathleen Jamie The Scores
"A portrait of Brodsky hangs in Baryshnikov’s pied-à-terre a few blocks away. He had asked the poet to caption it on his 40th birthday: “Our native land is wide, it’s vast. Though neither Mouse nor Cat felt like living there to see their 40th.” “It’s very witty in Russian,” Baryshnikov says. It is also deeply personal. Brodsky called the diminutive Baryshnikov “Mouse”, which in Russian sounds like Misha, Baryshnikov’s nickname. The older, larger Brodsky was “Cat”." Neil Munshi FT

"A WB Yeats Rose created for the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth in 2015 sits in the corner of a good-sized conservatory at the side of the house. This opens on to the tiered back garden, filled with trees and colourful shrubs, from which there are good sea views." Frances O'Rourke Irish Times
"[David Jones's] In Parenthesis also reaches back and forth in history; because, as Jones puts it in the introduction, ‘at no time did one so much live with a consciousness of the past, the very remote, and the more immediate and trivial past, both superficially and more subtly.’ Dilworth recounts Jones meeting a ‘shit wallah’ carrying two full buckets. Jones commented to the man, ‘You’ve got a dirty, bloody job.’ To which the man replied, ‘Bloody job indeed. The army of Artaxerxes was utterly destroyed for lack of sanitation.’" Ian Pople The Manchester Review "Jones often wrote about “the Break”, the cultural moment somewhere around the beginning of modernity when the European world-view shifted decisively. Instead of a world where things were unique but linked by an unimaginable density of connection and cross-reference, we had created one in which things were unconnected but endlessly repeatable and where everything could be exchanged in the market for an agreed equivalent: above all, for money. Jones saw his work – both as a visual artist and as a poet – as a sustained protest against the Break and an effort to show that the older picture could, after all, be brought to life." Rowan Williams New Statesman
"Several years ago at a writers’ conference, Tate revealed another unusual feature of the poem. He was asked about his approach to revision and said flatly that he never revised. Instead, he would write a promising line and sit and wait for the next good line to come to him." John Morgan NYRB
"AE’s poem, written initially as an Easter Rising elegy, was part of a deliberate effort to build bridges between different political traditions in Ireland. A disenchanted AE resigned from the Convention in February 1918 when it became clear to him that an agreed settlement was no longer achievable." Dan Mulhall Irish Times
"Nevertheless, by the end of browsing through this heartening and life-enhancing selection, some recurrent principles do make themselves felt. Nature in some sense constantly returns. And we see what the editors mean about the re-creation of the “visceral thrill” of the first reading of a poem." Bernard O'Donoghue Irish Times
"A singer of hymns and a student of the harpsichord, her favourite poets George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins and Baudelaire – was she more seventeenth-century, or nineteenth? A delayed Metaphysical or a fearless Victorian traveller in pelerine and hat and veil? She liked littorals and islands, and spent probably half her life outside the United States. She herself noted, “it is odd how I often feel myself to be a late-late Post World War I generation member, rather than a member of the Post World War II generation”, to which technically she belonged, her first book, North & South, having been published in 1946." Michael Hofmann TLS
"We ignore the misuse of language at our peril, the invasions of mind that mirror invasions of land. [Solman] Sharif shows us the consequences of that collective failure. Look demonstrates not only that language is an integral part of the military arsenal but also that poetry remains a subversive act, a refusal to submit to despair or amnesia." Eva FW Linn Critical Flame
"[Michael O'Brien's] poems are spare and exact, but everywhere they remind us of earthly abundance: “here where there is everything instead of nothing.” He liked Lady Murasaki’s answer to the Prince when he asked her why she writes: So there will never be a time when people don’t know these things happened. Michael had a special affinity for resemblances. He loved similes, echoes, and puns. The word “likeness” appears in his poems again and again." Patrick Morrissey Chicago Review
"Victor Hugo was a fine Gothicky-Romantic artist in his own right, and an innovative one too, mixing onto his palette everything from coffee grounds, blackberry juice, and caramelized onion to spit and soot, not to mention what his biographer Graham Robb tactfully terms “even less respectable materials.” Julian Barnes NYRB
"Emily Berry’s second collection, Stranger, Baby – published this year by Faber & Faber, is luminous green and hard to put down." Annie Muir The Manchester Review

New poems

Adam Crothers Southword

AR Ammons Poetry

Gwyneth Lewis Hudson Review

Vincenz Serrano High Chair

Ida Börjel Asymptote

Ian Pople Poetry

John Ashbery Poetry

John Ashbery PN Review

David Ferry Threepenny Review

Naomi Huan Berfrois

Derek Mahon New Yorker

Pippa Little New Statesman

Anthony Madrid Blackbox Manifold

Natalie Shapero New Yorker

Medbh McGuckian Blackbox Manifold

Nausheen Eusuf World Literature Today

Vona Groarke New Yorker

Denise Riley Blackbox Manifold

Tara Bergin Honest Ulsterman

Michael Hofmann New Yorker

August 2017. The Page is still on holidays.

August 2017. The Page is on holidays.

Amanda Newell Scoundrel Time

Mark Ford Poetry London

Andrea Brady Granta

Kit Fan The Poetry Review

Evan Jones Poetry Ireland Review

Gordon Mitchell Smith Kenyon Review

Ocean Vuong Poetry London

Heather Phillipson Poetry international

Ian Pople Berfrois

Julian Stannard the Poetry Review

Atsuro Riley Threepenny Review

Marianne Moore Guardian

Joel Brouwer Conduit

Allis Hamilton The Poetry Review

Ocean Vuong Poetry

Debra Nystrom Blackbird

Keshia Starrett Honest Ulsterman

JT Welsch Honest Ulsterman

Michael Longley Forward Arts

Arthur Mortensen The Dark Horse

Elise Paschen The Hudson Review

Leanne O'Sullivan Irish Times

Ian Duhig The Punch

Luke Kennard Poems in Which

Andrew Jamison Poetry Ireland Review

Ocean Vuong Poetry London

Michael O'Brien Chicago Review

Denis Johnson 42 Miles

Emma Simon The Rialto

Ryan Fox New Yorker

Lorna Goodison Guardian

Sue Leigh Arete

Emily Berry Granta

Gillian Allnut The Poetry Review

Rebecca Perry The Scores

Anne Carson New Yorker

Claire Askew The Literateur

Joey Connolly The Manchester Review

Maurice Riordan The Scores

Amy Key New Statesman

Chase Twitchell Massachusetts Review

Ange Mlinko Poetry

Laura Scott PN Review

Nuar Alsadir Granta

Charles Simic Threepenny Review

Stephen Sexton Financial Times


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