The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"Returning to Proust is a little like meeting up with my former self. I’m surprised to find we like the same things. I thought she was a terrible fool. Now I go back to find out what it was like to be her." Martina Evans Irish Times
"So a new book arrives hoping to get reviewed. It’s glossy and embellished with superlative recommendations, as they all are. I’ve never heard of the author, and I immediately think “here comes another…” But the interesting part of this story is that if, on opening the book to get some idea of the kind of writing it holds, I immediately have the impression of modernity, I automatically think it’s probably by an older poet. And so it is." Peter Riley Fortnightly Review
"Indeed, much of Stepanova’s play with older forms and past literary traditions is rooted in her broader interrogation of collective memory, a political project she tries to complicate, and perhaps even dismantle, through poetry. In Russia, Putin’s government has manipulated mass media and textbooks in an effort to rewrite the country’s history, with an eye toward stoking Russian nationalism and recasting former authoritarian leaders, including Stalin, in a more favorable light. In “Spolia,” (translated by Dugdale), Stepanova satirizes militarism’s penchant for anachronism to make her point about the malleability of history, using the very melody that soldiers march to: “say the word that don’t belong // put in on and march along // forget the old and step anew // and the word will march with you.”" Jennifer Wilson Poetry
"How then to resist an increasingly toxic intellectual culture without succumbing either to its dynamics or to despair? Adorno concludes Minima Moralia with a bracing challenge: “The only philosophy which can be responsibly practiced in the face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption.”" Alexander Stern The Hedgehog Review
"I believe, a bit weirdly, that somewhere each poem exists perfectly made, and it is towards this I am, literally, fighting. I don’t know where these perfections are lurking, under the bed, in heaven, in a parallel brain if I have one, somewhere Platonic, and I’m sure Jung would have something to say about the idea, but why else do I scratch and search so compulsively, and remain so deeply unsatisfied until it is Right? The theory is, I tell myself when I feel it especially ridiculous, perfectly feasible because when I feel I do get it right, or , more tellingly, know that it is right, and this can be an exhausting process in its intensity, it is Right. Which means I have done it, and found that thing under the bed, or in heaven. The exultation and joy experienced at this point is, for me, the deep satisfaction of writing." John Gallas Medium
"Repetition creates a linguistic labyrinth where we get lost because every turn looks familiar – looks like a repetition – yet, instead of an exit we walk deeper into the spell of history. I’m shocked by this spell every time I write. A lyrical voice is a voice out of control and a lyrical poet repeats because she is shocked by what she said when she lost control of her voice. She repeats in hope that the words will come out differently on a second try, on a third try. She repeats because she hopes for a rupture of old patterns, a possibility of a truly new beginning." Valzhyna Mort The Poetry Review
"When I started out trying to be a poet, Roy Fisher was the only guy I had. I mean he was the only person whose work was obviously influenced by American and European poetry. I actually corresponded with him as well though I never met him. The standard thing was you had to write something that sounded a bit like Philip Larkin. Philip Larkin is a wonderful poet, but that was not what I wanted to write." John Ash PN Review
"Just as in 3.15, the poet of the fragment looks back on his past achievement, the leve carmen (17) beloved by his readership (ever the feminist, Ovid stresses his success specifically among virginibus … pulchris, 16) and looks forward to a greater work (magna meta, 15; cf. area maior, Am. 3.15.18). " Katharina Volk • Antigone

"Berryman resented the “confessional” label, but it makes sense to think of The Dream Songs alongside Lowell’s Life Studies (1959), W.D. Snodgrass’s Heart’s Needle (1959), Anne Sexton’s To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), and Sylvia Plath’s posthumous Ariel (1965). For all of these poets’ many differences, and notwithstanding the craft that went into each of their volumes (these were far from artless confessions), the books tend to follow a similar arc: the wayward poet makes a putatively shameful disclosure about his or her life, usually involving some breakdown of the nuclear family (the given family of childhood, the made one of adulthood, or, often, both), only to have the form within which they make that disclosure, the well-made lyric poem, lead them back, by poem’s end, into the boundaries of respectable domesticity." Kamran Javadizadeh NYRB
"In the weeks leading up to The Dolphin’s publication, Hardwick and Lowell were not corresponding about the poems but instead having a prolonged, bitter exchange about a house in Maine. For fifteen years of their marriage, they had gone to Castine almost every summer—either driving up from New York or Boston, or flying to Bangor and driving down—and it had become one of the main coordinates of their life and work." Zachary Fine • The Point

"Peter van Toorn was deeply troubled. It was the 1970s, and an anti-formalist hostility was sweeping Canadian poetry. Poets couldn’t strip their practice of classical devices fast enough. Looking around at his peers, the twenty-six-year-old watched them all but desert the descriptive tradition he credited for the finest poems in the language." Carmine Starnino • New Criterion

"On March 3 two young poets, Myint Myint Zin and K Za Win, were killed. Both were also teachers, beloved by their students. Myint Myint Zin divulged her blood type on social media just before she died should anyone injured in the protests need a transfusion. K Za Win was said to be shielding others, including children, who were being fired upon just before he died." James Byrne • World Literature Today

"Adam Zagajewski, a prizewinning Polish poet and a former dissident in exile whose life and verse reverberated with laments over displacement and reminders that the past perseveres, died on March 21 in Krakow, Poland. He was 75." Sam Roberts • New York Times

"Kleinzahler has an eye for sudden bursts of the lyrical in unlikely settings and is always quick to note a patch of easily missed sunlight, “Late Winter Morning On The Palisades” (from Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow) found, “Candle in the throat of maple / alive in wet bark / like a soldering flame as the sun lifts / over Manhattan’s shoulder,” amidst the general clamour of “ … car doors, / jets, and the brutal slaying in Queens …”." Ross Moore DRB
"The collection begins in 1969 with Anne Ridler, who steps from Eliot’s shadow – as well as an accomplished poet, she was an editor at Faber – to assert her early influence over Schmidt, particularly in exhorting him to eschew a group name for his circle of poets and critics – and certainly not to use the proposed name of “Vividists.” The book ends in 2018 with medical doctor cum poet and essayist Iain Bamforth, whose affecting letter ranges from the death of a loved one to linguistic theory to Gadamer to his own poetry to Rilke and Rodin. In one letter, Bamforth embodies the best of what Carcanet and PN Review have become: a survey of the most intelligent, literate and creative thinking about poetry in Britain and the world. What Schmidt says of Bamforth should be said of himself, as editor and publisher: “There is nothing old-fashioned about him, but there is a broad living culture still informing everything he says and does.”" Kevin Gardner Wild Court
"The poem cannot heal itself, and that failure seems a launching position for much of what has come afterward. No heroics. No rescuing savior. No gathering of internal resources against the battering dark. Just a poem that buckles under the impossible weight of its fierce sincerity." Vona Groarke LARB
"A new experimental pamphlet, Performances in All Directions from Julie Morrissy (Pizza, Poetry, Pub €12.50), mixes field notes, images, poetry and text with poignant effect. Certain Individual Women takes its title from “very recent though now defunct, Irish legislation that relates to the type of information a woman can receive while pregnant” – juxtaposing the personae of three women alongside documentary legal poems." Martina Evans Irish Times
“The poems record the dreamlife of a character named Henry, who was, according to Berryman, “a white American in early middle age.” Henry was a dream version of his maker, Berryman’s avatar and effigy. When Elizabeth Bishop read 77 Dream Songs (1964), the first book-length installment of the project, she confided to Robert Lowell, “Some pages I find wonderful, some baffle me completely.” It’s not hard to see why.”Kamran Javadizadeh NYRB

"“At the dawn of Western narrative, Homer’s Odysseus sets sail.” So begins Margaret Cohen’s The Novel and the Sea (2012). Robert Graves would not have agreed. “English poetic education,” he argued in 1948, “should, really, begin not with the Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin” – an Old Irish incantation said to have been recited by the bard Amergin as the Milesians invaded Ireland. “I am Wind on Sea/ I am Ocean-wave,/ I am Roar of Sea.” Nicholas Allen’s Seatangled returns Irish literature to its coastal beginnings, imagining a “liquid” island whose “waterborne narratives” need to be recovered, reimagined and retold." Claire Connolly Irish Times
"Recently, when one of my friends called me an activist, I wondered if it was true. I am no Paul Bogle, no Welsh Chartist, but more and more I wonder if activism is an activity rather than a label to live up to. To take just one example, I am a member of the eco- poetry community, Poets for the Planet. For as long as I’m committed to this role and working to fulfil our aims, then I am active – so why not go the next step and call it what it is? I am an activist. Interviewing Ian Humphreys for Poets for the Planet taught me so much about the writing process, as we explored the queer themes of his work and how they related to a wider ecological consciousness." Marvin Thompson Poetry London
“But if I cannot translate a poet because she is a woman, young, black, an American of the 21st century, neither can I translate Homer because I am not a Greek of the eighth century BC. Or could not have translated Shakespeare because I am not a 16th-century Englishman.”Guardian

"With each collection of poems, Farrell has absorbed new tones and registers in ways subtle enough that it is easy to miss a decisive shift in the make-up of whimsy and seriousness in his work." Louis Klee • Sydney Review of Books

"Time now for Ferlinghetti, for his poets kaddish, or aria of lament. The beat will go on. The mourners’ words will roll in healthy dissent, purposeful euphoric living and shake all assumptions. Lawrence Ferlinghetti is an everlasting star in our literary cosmos." Annice Jacoby • Literary Hub

"But he also understood small back rooms to be places of intimacy, creativity, and negative capability—places where artists forge their ideas, where writers make their work, and where friendship and love (artistic and not) are built. Small back rooms are, above all, provisional spaces where ideas are worked out before performance, presentation, and action. Just because terrible things sometimes emerge from small back rooms doesn’t erase the importance of the sort of space they are. It is the intimacy of the small back room—the fact that it’s sheltered from the public eye and the marketplace of ideas—that makes it so vital, the very heart of “everything.”" Wayne Miller LitHub
"You might think a great poet would be allowed the last word on his own life, especially when leaving specific directions on the matter. But after John Keats died in Rome, 200 years ago next Tuesday, his friends decided that the prescribed, one-line epitaph needed editorialising." Frank McNally Irish Times
"In the morning of the anniversary, flowers will be laid by Keats’s tomb during a poetry reading. In the evening a virtual Keats, created by the Institute for Digital Archaeology in Oxford, will recite his poem Bright Star in a live feed from" Alison Flood Guardian
"The language Bhanu Kapil uses is unstable: you never know where you are with it – any more than the guest knows how to situate herself – and this defines the work’s uncomfortable atmosphere, swivelling between compliance and resistance. There is a poem that begins by describing the “host’s gleaming hair” that “responds beautifully to the shampoo / She has set out for us. / What’s mine is yours, / She says with a sweet smile.” So far, so glossy. But sweetness sours when the guest is banned from going out with the host’s adopted Filipino daughter. And the poem then slides into obscenity (the host’s thoughts, it would seem): "I can smell your vagina. / Are you wearing your genitals / As a brooch?" You might reasonably object that much of this writing is too perfunctory to be poetry, only that objection quickly starts to be frivolously beside the point. For Kapil’s memorable protest depends upon her ability to overturn poetic expectation." Kate Kellaway Observer
"In preparation for the trip north, in the early summer of 1990, I bundled my clay, my tools, and my modelling stand into the trunk, and thought about the man on Grizzly Peak. Since that reading in Los Angeles, Miłosz had lost his first wife, Janka, and a more sustained return to Poland was now on the horizon. For most of his life no one, least of all ‘the Wrong Honorable Professor Milosz [sic], Who wrote poems in some unheard of tongue’, would have imagined his future status." Jonathan E Hirschfield PN Review
"He does not run a public relations campaign, as do many poets, for the gentleness of his intentions. He makes a habit of independent thought. He is the sort of snake that doesn’t hiss but just strikes. “I am looking down at you, at you and yours,” he writes in “What One Must Contend With,” “Your stories and friends, your banal ludicrous dreams.” You would not necessarily want him in charge of your DNR." Dwight Garner NYT
"Kevin Young wasn’t kidding when he said Berryman wasn’t for everyone. When the editors state that his “references to women can be demeaning”, they weren’t kidding either. Yet I was unprepared for just how demeaning. His asinine, “Why do you need a poetass?” to James Laughlin in June 1940 when Laughlin was seeking a female poet for the New Directions list was par for the course." Martina Evans The irish Times
"Despite being littered with the debris of technology and a sense of unease, the best poems here pull themselves out of the wreckage, reaching upwards while never fully shedding the latent guilt in [Derek Mahon's] desire to be free." Seán Hewitt The Irish Times
"By comparing Poets and Talkers along these lines, the researchers were able to draw two overall conclusions. First, when compared to the Talkers, the poets tended to speak more slowly and stay within a narrower pitch range. Second, very few Talkers indulged in long pauses, but plenty of poets—33 percent—had no trouble leaving their listeners hanging for two seconds or more." Cara Giaimo • Atlas Obscura

"Mythological plagues are often indications that something is very wrong, an invitation to look more closely at assumptions and injustice, a judgment. It is worth remembering that Sophocles’ famous play debuted in 429 BC. The plague of Athens had broken out the previous year, and 429 saw a second wave. The references to a plague, in combination with a criticism of state leadership, would have been eerily topical and resonant for the audience in a time of war and pandemic, for all that the play is set in a legendary past and another city." A.E. Stallings • Hudson Review

"This is the zone that vouchsafes Mahon’s sensual, visionary moments, and many poems of Harbour Lights disport themselves with such imaginative joy. He pulled off the trick again in Against the Clock (2018). (From Washing Up, perhaps “Another Cold Spring” can be added to the list.) In these two collections, separated by thirteen years, Mahon produced some of the finest anglophone poems of his time." Justin Quinn TLS
"The American poet James Tate once said he wanted to “use the image as a kind of drill to penetrate the veils of illusion we complacently call the Real World”. Ní Chuilleanáin’s poetic mission has been to do much the same – a mission that has been accomplished with some of the finest poetry of the past fifty years." Gerard Smyth DRB
"Setting the short life and “blazing art” of Sylvia Plath beside the work of a more fortunate poet, in some ways the luckiest of all poets, Seamus Heaney, may at first seem very strange. But as different as these two writers were, they were both caught in the webs of fame." David Mason Hudson Review
"The book refrains, though, from engaging with ideas, and operates by a series of close-ups, reporting on the poems and attempting to tally them with Heaney’s movements. He usefully reminds us of Heaney’s extra­literary activism, his participation in the Civil Rights marches, his service on the Arts Council during the 1970s, his public support for abortion rights in the 1980s, and his initial excitement about Field Day. It is not quite right, either, to say that Foster’s book is generally reliable on matters outside poetry. On the Irish-language context, he calls the self-admonishing poem ‘Fill Arís’ by Sean O Riordáin [sic] a ‘controversial manifesto’. He is ambivalent about Field Day, as was Heaney, but surely unwise to say that Heaney was vital to ‘attracting financial sponsorship, especially from American sympathizers’. Sympathizers!" John McAuliffe PN Review
"Belieu’s poems often present uneasy pas de deux between rivals, as though strained coöperation were the prerequisite for beauty. She refuses her therapist’s “custom-order hindsight,” and decides instead “to make like Ginger Rogers / forever waltzing backward down the stairs, / partnered with a man who never liked her.” That’s a brilliant metaphor for the retrospective method of psychotherapy, guided not by “faith” but by an empirical “process / of elimination.”" Dan Chiasson • New Yorker

"Mahon’s contribution to poetry, to human culture, can be described as an aesthetic intervention within the idea of a known self in conflict with an alien other: an encounter that takes place at the heart of the various interlocking structures." Oana Sanziana Marian The Yale Review
"As much as movements of people drive progress, individuals also need to be able to see themselves as potential protagonists in history. Two recent poems that bring this to life vividly are “Cork Schoolgirl Considers the GPO, Dublin 2016” by Victoria Kennefick, where the protagonist feels her way into Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising, and Danez Smith’s “Dinosaurs in the Hood”, a plea to destroy the racial stereotypes of industrialised storytelling." Rishi Dastidar Guardian
"But at the same time, after so long being in lockdown, there is the absolute joy of seeing poets, writers, and colleagues I know and love on Zoom when they are reading or even just attending events. Even if their camera is off and I just see their names, I get excited." Zoe Brigley Poetry London
"The poets I return to most are those whose work performs this in such a way that I feel invited to participate, to conjure alongside: René Char, Gennady Aygi, Raúl Zurita, Paul Celan, Aimé Césaire, Anne Carson. Gertrude Stein, of course. These are all major poets, and more or less prolific, but their presence—the presence of their oeuvre—never feels oppressive to me. It feels permissive." G.C. Waldrep • Image Journal

"English and London, where Chan is currently based, are spaces where she explores her sexuality yet exists as a person of color in a “historically white space”; Cantonese and Hong Kong, the city where she was born and raised, challenge her queerness and make her otherness visible. “To the Chinese, you & I are chopsticks: lovers with the same anatomies,” Chan explains in “//”. Indeed, the forward slashes that title the poem resemble chopsticks and are slanted, deliberately not-straight." May Huang Hong Kong Review of Books
"Manhire himself is critical of the self-mythologising and self-aggrandising nature that poets sometimes have, saying, “The kinds of poets I dislike are the superior ones. I sometimes like to write poems that tease the self-importance that poetry can suffer from. I know my own work occasionally looks a bit obscure, but I don’t ever want to condescend to the reader, or come across as sanctimonious. That’s what really puts people off poetry.”" Rose Lu Stuff
"Her style is simultaneously humorous, ironic and confrontational. This is especially effective and welcome in How To Wash a Heart, the first of her books to be published in the UK, where she was born (she now lives between the UK and the US). It comprises a sequence, written in rare lineated verse, recounting the experiences of an immigrant with precarious visa status living in the home of a white host." Dominic Leonard TLS "A prolific artist and writer, and the recipient of numerous awards (most recently the Windham-Campbell Prize for Poetry, 2020), Bhanu Kapil is undoubtedly an important figure in contemporary poetry. I first came across her work in 2013; The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (2001) was recommended to me after I lamented my own gap in knowledge of poetry written by South Asian women. Even as a South Asian woman myself, it felt sometimes impossible to retrieve such work back then, particularly given the pervading whiteness of the industry and even within my own private writing circles. For me, the collection’s long lines of imagination, how it associated and dissociated between continents, between voices, opened a world of possibility." Alycia Pirmohamed The Scores
"A grim tableau no doubt, but, the poem tells us, things don’t have to be this way. A different future is possible: ‘Strange, / only the imagination can set us right / and that means poetry, some version of it.’ The dreadful irony, of course, is that these lines are taken from the last new Derek Mahon poem in the last new Derek Mahon book we’ll ever read. The world goes on waltzing in its bowl of cloud, and although it has lost this remarkable poet, it is the richer for having his poems in it. They might even help to set us right." Tara McEvoy The Stinging Fly
"His later voice is, if possible, even more secure – unhurried and unstrained. With the heaviest subjects, he travels light. With lighter subjects, he knows how to hold them in place." Kate Kellaway Observer
"Reading Shadow of the Owl (Bloodaxe Books, £10.99) is to be party to an intense freefall, as it happens to Matthew Sweeney. The darkest, strongest of his fabulist poems, streamed out in 10 months between his diagnosis with motor neuron disease and his death in 2018, the title sequence written when he waited for a diagnosis, finally delivered by an unseen neurologist via his mobile phone." Martina Evans Irish Times
"In a recent study of The Poet’s Notebook conducted by a PhD student at my University, a recurring pattern was uncovered: poetic observations at the front; practical information at the back; a whole load of empty pages in between. You may or may not recognise your own habits here, but what does the observation tell us about poets and their working patterns in general? Maybe the white blankness mirrors a real-life chasm that exists between creative endeavour and practical organisation. Maybe it indicates the ethereal workings of the poetic imagination. Maybe it tells us that poems begin as notes but take shape elsewhere. Or maybe it simply tells us that poets don’t love stationary as much as they say they do. Whatever the answer, I kept thinking about notebooks while I was reading and re-reading the wonderful poems of Suzannah V. Evans." Tara Bergin Carcanet
"The poems Rilke wrote in the same period made up the New Poems of 1907 and 1908. Forget the horrid and ubiquitous Letters to a Young Poet, forget Duino, forget The Sonnets to Orpheus. They are for me his greatest poems, and Malte his greatest book." Michael Hofmann • LRB

"Yeats scholars will be interested in his descriptions of the author Katharine Tynan (“a writer of exquisite religious poetry”) and CH Oldham, the editor of the Dublin Literary Review, who is said by some to be a political radical “up to the lips in plots and away in his house on the slopes of the mountains. He entertains nihilists and other strange people.”" Ronan McGreevy Irish Times
"The Beggar was originally self-published by the poet in 1924. (Two of the twenty-two poems also appeared that year in Harold Monro’s Chapbook.) Fame of course did not follow, and there’s a story that Mason despairingly threw 200 copies of The Beggar into Auckland Harbour. The tale is probably apocryphal, but over the years it has struck a chord with many New Zealand poets." Bill Manhire Granta
"While we may infer that the poem took years to craft, it is written as if it were a stream of consciousness during sleepless a.m. hours, with [Ross] Gay (or, at least, the narrator) watching the highlight reel over and over again. But remember: he’s not watching so much as he is witnessing, trying to make sense of why this seemingly trivial act (it’s just a layup! it’s only two points!) has become so iconic." Eric Morales-Franceschini Boston Review
"However, Rivkin reclaims the identity of a suitor by focusing on the poet as a pursuer—as haunted—and as one who is pursued—not only in life, but in the artistic work of memory, research, transformation, composition, and revision. Rivkin, like his father and like Haber, is an alchemist-farmer who sees the “good earth” and “change[s] ‘stones’ into ‘bread’ ”; transformation, a goal of artists and scientists alike, becomes just as important a story as the one about the absent father and lost son. As the familiar, domestic life is made strange and the unfamiliar, scientific past is made intimate, Rivkin recasts autobiographical poetry as transformative work in an intertexutal ecosystem of desires, past and present." Hannah Baker Saltmarsh Georgia Review
"The first duty of the artist is to be lucky. To be there like the photographer, on the spot at the right time and with the right equipment to capture what is going on." Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin DRB
"The author has grown old. He is eighty now. He is a little surprised by the success of his prose and his poems, but as much by his longevity." CP Cavafy, tr Evan Jones Poetry
"It’s difficult to know how common it is for poets to cease writing after one book like Hannan did. In 1995, one hundred poetry collections were published by Bloodaxe, Carcanet, Faber, Smith|Doorstop, Anvil Press, Seren, Enitharmon, Chatto & Windus, Stride, Jonathan Cape and Picador. Including Liar, Jones, only three were debuts without a later follow-up. (All three such debut poets are women.) Perhaps this says something of the commissioning at those publishers rather than anything else; there are around 450 other publishers and small presses represented in the National Poetry Library’s holdings for 1995, among which there are doubtless many other examples." Charles Whalley The Poetry Review
"New Ireland was perhaps surprisingly receptive to developments in modernism, publishing JM Hone on French intellectual thought, and the celebrated translator of Plotinus Stephen MacKenna’s plea for Gaelic verse to embrace poetic freedom and metres “perhaps from Japan or Hungary”. Lennox Robinson gave a cranky review of Ezra Pound’s Lustra, finding those poems that were “in the vague imagist style” most pleasing, but yanking Pound’s “defective ear” for his vain attempts “to do what only music can do”." Karl O'Hanlon The Irish Times "The 1921 newsletter of Gresham’s School in Norfolk records the names of two pupils who had excelled in science that year: a 14-year-old WH Auden and a 15-year-old Erskine Childers." Conor Leahy The irish Times
"At one time, Charles’s elder brother, John Howard Parnell, established a walking stick and umbrella manufacturers in Avondale." Oliver O'Hanlon The Irish Times

"How odd it is to miss the poetry reading, the gathering in person from time to time to listen to an author speak aloud their words. And stranger perhaps that such a simple, fairly unchanging format has endured for so long. “Aren’t the persuasions of poetry private?” the American poet Kay Ryan once asked. “The right sized room to hear poetry is my head, the words speaking from the page”. This year, with the ongoing Covid restrictions, the perfectly-sized venue of our own heads is overdue an airing. The social connection fostered by live events, allowing for the meeting of minds, has been a significant loss. The cause of our disconnection, lest we forget, is that breath – so integral to the poetic endeavour – is temporarily dangerous." Colette Bryce Poetry Ireland Review
"Hopefully more poems like Noor Hindi’s 2020 clarion call “Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying,” which simultaneously attacks M.F.A. culture and crosses the brightest red line in American politics: Palestine." Viet Thanh Nguyen • New York Times

"Much of the tepid free verse is about flowers. Or birds. Or trees." Dwight Garner • New York Times

"Within the relatively brief compass of a review it is only possible to hint at the subtlety, richness and transformative power of these poems. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s Collected Poems is a uniquely compelling body of work that has the coherence and inevitability of a natural growth. It is a fitting monument to her passionate concern to ride ‘the horses of meaning’ and to ‘let their hooves print the next bit of the story.’" David Cooke The Manchester Review
"Grief, never far from poetry, was an integral part of the truly terrific books of 2020. Poems written before Covid became chillingly prescient, as if poets had known what was coming." Martina Evans and Seán Hewitt on the best books of 2020 Irish Times
"Guriel depicts his world as a wide and wonderful imaginative landscape, capable of much, and shows perhaps far more patience with creation than any author this side of Christian Bök. In an ironic and meta turn of the screw, Forgotten Work has the potential to become the object of the very kind of micro-fan obsession it explores.." Micheline Maylor • Quill & Quire

"In a year filled with absence and longing, Evan Jones’ translation of The Barbarians Arrive Today was the Cavafy I so desperately needed but didn’t know I wanted." Alexandra Marraccini • Review 31

"Apocalypse is passionate. It represents a raised pitch and extended conceptual scope, a turn towards biblical and epic tone if only momentarily, and an amplification of address by which words may transcend even an excessive figurative function which remains controlled, such as Surrealism, and appear to violate the dialect itself, momentarily or consistently." Peter Riley • Fortnightly Review

"This poet’s special quality includes her ability to write about people left behind or shooed off to the margins. It goes well beyond her choice of subjects – indeed many of the poems are on lighter personal themes: loves, friendships, an enjoyable rackety youth; or on the natural world, or views in Greece; the range is quite broad. Freedom to choose goes with her achieved perspectives; the subtitle that denies the “confessional” also smartly refuses the company of poets whose capital is other people’s trauma." Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin DRB
"For Wiman, Herbert was ‘conscious of some secular element at the very heart of making art, some necessary imaginative flair in himself that needed to be subdued, or at least tidied up and made fit for sacrifice.’ It might be that Wiman, writing in the first quarter of the 21st century, feels less the need to tidy up his ‘necessary imaginative flair’; he has, after all, had various platforms on which to exercise his imagination over the years." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"The most substantial poem in the collection is ‘Warm Ocean’, a poem which begins with what looks like a typo: ‘Someone says lonely let’s go for a stroll.’ This voice is joined by another someone and another, all uttering platitudes – ‘someone says it was never about the money’ – more or less out of context, or with the only context being this stroll that everyone, now ‘we,’ go on together. The stroll takes in a landscape made up of cliffs and ocean, a long stretch of wood, a stream-bed; birds, of course, and books; time, in the form of a past ‘before the vows and boasts / before the oars demanding water’ and in terms of the noise of the world, the stones that go ‘clock cluck clock’; and by the end of the poem, which also seems to be the end of the world, we are left with small fires, shipwrecks, and (unsurprising only because this is a Bill Manhire poem) an orchestra ‘breaking up the ballroom.’" Anna Jackson ANZL
"If poets and fiction writers attend a party, they’ll segregate themselves, each cluster as comradely and comfortable as Victorian men settling down for cigars and serious talk, now that the pernicious listeners have been banished." Elizabeth Tallent Threepenny Review
"There are some characteristic Johnson touches in that speech (he emphasizes Horace’s hypocrisies, cowardice and compromises over the more dignified and stoical elements in the Odes; and reduces the poetry to the question of whether journalists are more important than politicians). But it is impossible to deny the ease and enjoyment with which Johnson cites Latin verse. And few other public figures would have observed that “there is a final sense in which Horace is not just a ward and protégé of Mercury but also carries out the ultimate function of that divinity”." Rory Stewart TLS
"In fact, reading Berssenbrugge’s work occasionally feels like watching a softly narrated science documentary: “A body or galaxy requires continuous energy to maintain, like a whirlpool in a fast stream” (“Scalar”) or “Milky Way is an invisible potential, and I can imagine a wave function for the universe” (“The Loom”). That said, the rhapsodic lyricism that characterizes even Berssenbrugge’s most straightforward work is never too far away: “Subtle, entangled, the gestalt I speak of is between myself and an angel” (“Darkness”)." André Naffis-Sahely Poetry
"Val Warner, who has died aged 74, was a gifted poet, an editor, scholar, translator, teacher and occasional short-story writer. She was largely responsible for the rediscovery of the early-20th-century poet Charlotte Mew, whose collected poetry and prose she edited for Carcanet/Virago in 1981." Patricia Craig Guardian
"Saying too much is the default mode of political poetry—the default fault, too. The best political poets work in subtleties, not the shouts and finger-pointing that have long been the stump work of politics. Think of Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” or Heaney’s “The Toome Road” rather than the grandstanding grand guignol of Carolyn Forché’s “The Colonel.”" William Logan • New Criterion

"At a time when performance is almost de rigueur in the poetry world, it is possible to see how radical the Nobel committee’s choice is, almost, as it were, affirming the primacy of the art against the preferences, not to say prejudices, of the age. The award of a Nobel Prize to a poet is a rare occurrence, to a female poet even rarer (only Gabriela Mistral and Wisława Szymborska precede Glück)." Michael Schmidt PN Review
"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

New poems

Rachel Boast The Scores

Daisy Fried At Length

Will Alexander Alligatorzine

Ishion Hutchinson The Poetry Review

Michael Brett PN Review

Stephanie Burt Moist Poetry Journal

Leontia Flynn Kaleidoscope

Shane McCrae Cortland Review

Robert Mezey Hudson Review

Connie Voisine Scoundrel Time

Harry Clifton Irish Times

Padraig Regan Poetry Daily

Erica McAlpine Yale Review

Alex Boyd Taddle Creek

Sebastian Agudelo Scoundrel Time

Kathleen Jamie New Statesman

Nat Ogle The White Review

Helen Tookey The Poetry Review

Tara Bergin PN Review

Mary O'Malley Irish Times

Tara Bergin PN Review

Bhanu Kapil Wildness

Holly Pester Poetry London

Derek Mahon Gallery Press

Leeanne Quinn Verseville

Holly Hopkins Guardian

Tara Bergin Irish Times

Alan Shapiro The Threepenny Review

Jean Valentine The Poetry Archive

Ada Limón jubilat

Bill Manhire Granta

Selima Hill The Poetry Review

The Page is taking a break. Merry Christmas to our readers and all the best for 2021!

Nathan Zach, tr Peter Cole Poetry International

Austin Smith Poetry

Noor Hindi Poetry

Stephanie Warner bathmagg

Caleb Femi bathmagg

Sean O'Brien The Irish Times

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


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The Page is edited by John McAuliffe, Vincenz Serrano and, since September 2013, Evan Jones at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester. It was founded in October 2004 by Andrew Johnston, who edited it until October 2009.
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