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poetry, essays, ideas
"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
"But I also think that women are the masters of finding and using bits of time — rather than thinking, like, I need to be at a writer’s retreat, or, Everyone in the house must fall silent until it’s time for my cocktail, because that’s not what life is like. I would think of Lucille Clifton making poems at the kitchen table with six kids around her." Elizabeth Alexander • The Cut

"If I never hear “If—” or “Invictus” again, I won't be unhappy." Willard Spiegelman • Wall Street Journal

"She is an empress of credentials, an avatar of all-the-right-moves: grew up trilingual (speaking primarily Italian and French into her late teens), was asked to leave the Sorbonne amid the student protests of 1968, got an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, has taught for years at Harvard." Jeff Gordinier • New York Times

"In the middle of these contradictions around Black relations to the land as the mythic basis of US national identity, the most popular African American poet in the wake of Reconstruction, Albery Allson Whitman, wrote vast lyric epic romances about frontier history in which Black and Native characters take center stage." Matt Sandler • LitHub

"I am in favour of abundance, whether temporal, aesthetic or social. We can create abundance for each other." Lisa Robertson • Cordite Poetry Review

"An impoverished homosexual, Cavafy lived on the margins of Alexandrian society. A meeting with the famous English writer E. M. Forster at the Alexandria Sporting Club turned out to be fortunate for his literary career and legacy." Gretchen McCullough • LARB

"As with her groundbreaking Citizen, Rankine’s latest work blends essays, photographs, poetry, erasures. What should be noted, though, is the shift in focus in her titles: whereas Citizen (2014) and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004) were each subtitled “An American Lyric”, Just Us is “An American Conversation”." Seán Hewitt The Irish Times
"I’m not sure the qualities of writing in age can be tabulated or synthesized. One wouldn’t want to be dogmatic about it, and of course one has always liked and even loved interesting and striking work composed at any stage, at any phase, and even work of which one doesn’t know offhand the age. (It was Joseph Brodsky who had the idea that the writer’s age—the age of the writer at the time of writing—should be prominently displayed somewhere on the work.)" Michael Hofmann • The Baffler

"It is true that Irish writers no longer stand out against the society generally for their dissident views of religion or sexuality. Is it then a good thing for writers now to feel much more at home in a drastically imperfect country? For example, in the final “Coda” devoted largely to an analysis of the positive influence of The Irish Times on Irish literature, Reynolds states that the paper was “founded in the nineteenth century with a moderate nationalist Protestant bent”, but that is it is now “a generally progressive newspaper, one with neoliberal sympathies”. Reynolds herself seems to be at ease with this “neoliberalism”. However, we might interrogate the connections between such politics and the operation of the literary scene that The Irish Times supports (assuming that the paper is not so different from other publishers or state bodies). What becomes of literature when image, social media presence and incessant competition for publicity, awards and grants are the order of the day?" Emer Nolan DRB
"In an interview some years ago [Colette] Bryce stated that she believed that a poem “was no good if it doesn’t have emotional truth”. Emotional truth is the holding glue in Bryce’s poetry – whether she is returning to her early years in the North or reporting from the wider world of her imagination." Gerry Smyth DRB
"Compression, stillness and plainness are largely absent; quick shifts, volubility and references to Barthes are fully present (there are four pages of endnotes for the 105 pages of poetry here). You might suppose this would result in a little too much self-conscious literariness, but Solie tempers her lines with good humor and an attractive populism. If she’s going to write about the nature of truth, she’s going to involve an “AEG 365 washer/dryer”; if she’s going to write about solitude, she’s also going to talk about “short-term RVers” trying to park to see Leonard Knight’s gloriously weird Salvation Mountain in the California desert." David Orr • NYT

"The first woman to hold the title of poet laureate of Jamaica, Goodison’s singularity as a writer lies in her belief in the micro-resistances of domestic life: she infuses the everyday with “salt and light,” turning mundane acts into transformative rituals." Kate Siklosi • The Walrus

"Vasilisa Palianina and her husband, Andrey, are in their Minsk apartment listening out for footsteps on the stairs. They fear that the police might be coming." Valzhyna Mort • Financial Times

"I found myself walking past 44 Morton Street for old times’ sake. The super was outside, hosing down the sidewalk, and when I looked in through the ground-floor window, I could see the whole apartment was open and under renovation. Since no one seemed to be around, I asked if I might walk down the alley to the back garden onto which Brodsky’s former living room–study opened. I figured that just seeing the trees and brickwork patio would be a comfort, but then I saw, standing outside, awaiting disposal, the refrigerator from the old apartment, its door removed and leaning against the wall, and inside its exposed cavity the abandoned travel carrier for Brodsky’s cat, Mississippi, a name he gave it because he thought cats liked sibilants far more than fricatives. All I could think of was what the poet had told me in “A Part of Speech,” right from the start: "Only sound needs echo and dreads its lack. / A glance is accustomed to no glance back." Peter Filkins The American Scholar
"I was raised in a Rastafarian family in the countryside, hours away by winding road from Kingston, a place that even in the Eighties folks still simply called “town.” Throughout my boyhood in Portland and St. Thomas parishes, on the cane and banana farms that entrapped imaginations on the eastern coast, Ethiopia existed as the future fulfillment of our tragic slave past." Ishion Hutchinson • Harper's

"Simonides is known as the first poet to accept payment for his poems, and so found himself often in the company (employment) of tyrants, wealthy merchants, ancestral aristocrats. He lived a long life, perhaps into his early nineties, which instilled in him a worldliness that runs counter to romantic ideals of who and what a poet should be. Hiero’s wife, asking Simonides if it’s better to be wealthy or wise, is told “wealthy; for I see the wise spending their days at the doors of the wealthy.”" Dan Beachy-Quick • Lapham's Quarterly

"This is a generous selection of Neruda’s work. It contains the politically engaged nostalgia that Neruda used when looking at and back on his native Chile and the other places he travelled in, in an important life both as a diplomat and an exile. His poem, ‘London’ adumbrates what was clearly an unhappy stay in a London that also comes across as a police state. These are rangy poems and Neruda is not afraid to sprawl and chew things over. Towards the end of the book are a number of poems from his last volumes which are just as political and personal as the earlier poems." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"Many poems in The Gilded Auction Block address the US directly, alongside its president. The idea is in a great tradition (think of Allen Ginsberg’s America, Danez Smith’s Dear White America or even, in its less embattled way, Walt Whitman’s One Song, America, Before I Go). The collection opens with The President Visits the Storm, demonstrating Trump’s imperviousness towards the victims of Hurricane Harvey. A few pages in, Everything I Know About Blackness I Learned from Donald Trump almost does not need the poem to unpack its title. The sense, throughout, is of an America with selective hearing and Trump as a complacently grotesque Goliath, against whom a poet must aim a particularly sharp stone." Kate Kellaway Observer
"But there’s a profound difference in the voices of Heaney’s and Headley’s translations. Heaney’s narrator is a serious, gray-bearded storyteller, rendering the Old English “þæt wæs god cyning” as “a good king he!”; Headley’s is a fratty youngster eager to get pumped on tales of warfare, impatient with archaic forms. “You know how it is: every castle wants invading,” he says. Her narrator’s tone is light and suspenseful, resembling nothing so much as a man telling a long but compelling story in a bar." Jo Livingston Poetry
"Reading Moritz’s work is like discovering new outcroppings of ruins that are nevertheless traceable to the same civilization." Carl Watts • HA&L

"Currier remembers how often Hall fell. One morning in winter, as she checked the farmhouse from her north window, she noticed his car had been warming up for a long time. When she went up to check, she found Hall lying in the driveway beside the car, unable to get up. Another day, as she entered the house, she heard him calling out in panic from the floor on the far side of his bed. Unable to lift him because of her own disability, she talked him into a position from which he could get himself up." Wesley McNair • Paris Review

"As a young poet, in another place and another era, I would send out new poems, damp and fragile from their chrysalis, to prominent magazines, in envelopes with self-addressed stamped envelopes inside them. Every day, going to the mailbox was an agony of anticipation. Seeing my own handwriting on the envelope would send me into wild swings of hope and despair. There was absolutely nothing more thrilling than an envelope with an acceptance and a contract, nothing more deflating than my own typescript sent home in disgrace." A.E. Stallings • The American Scholar

"Usually, I begin with the bare minimum of necessary facts. I try to avoid error if I’m writing about an historical person’s lived experience. But I try to sustain as much gray area in my own mind as possible — I try to sustain unknowing parallel to knowing — so as to allow myself to invent within the parameters of what I know." Shane McCrae • Chicago Review of Books

"Vicki Feaver’s I Want, I Want takes as its starting point William Blake’s illustration of a tiny naked child with its foot on a ladder to the moon, crying, “I Want! I Want!” A perfect illustration for the immensity of human desire erupts from us ‘bare forked’ animals. In Feaver’s case, the desire is for climbing the ladder of social and academic success." Martina Evans The Irish Times
"The book’s closing image is Pound, free in 1959, waiting for the director of a BBC documentary to tell him what to do: a figure whose meaning must be created by someone else. Pound is always only what we make of him. This is the worst of all worlds: a way of accidentally absolving Pound of his sins while dismissing the poetry as at best secondary to the empty vessel of his biography. Swift makes the same mistake many of Pound’s guests did: he visits and expects to learn something. Nearly a century after the New Criticism excised author and context from consideration, we’ve come full circle, subordinating poetry to psychology, politics, and personality. This isn’t Swift’s fault; it’s the condition both of much of what passes for literary criticism and our contemporary notion of poetry as mere “self-expression,” a way to be “heard” in all your “individuality.”" JL Wall The University Bookman
"In a recent essay on the elegy, the poet Stephen Sexton noted ‘the imperceptible change a photograph ... undergoes when someone depicted in it has died; how these images seem, somehow, utterly changed without having changed at all.’ The image came to mind when I first read ‘The Historians’ by Eavan Boland, the title poem of her new, now posthumous collection. Like the photograph, it seems impossible to encounter ‘The Historians’ in this strange summer of recovery without the words being invested with the immense loss of her, to her family, friends, students, peers, and to the readers for whom her poems and scholarship have cast an essential light for so long. The poetry community has been temporarily denied the gathering that would have marked her passing at any other time. On 1 May, the day of her funeral, candles flickered in the windows of readers across Ireland, an improvised lockdown tribute recalled by Geraldine Mitchell in her dedicated poem, ‘Of Fire and Water’." Colette Bryce Poetry Ireland Review
"Gabriel Jospovici has written, in one of his own beautifully modulated essays, about Dante in this context; how the poet knows well the human need to meld a dolce stil nuovo with a familiar, spoken, language to bring complicated and abstract ideas home in fresh individual expression." Kirsty Gunn PN Review
"This isn’t Groarke’s only mode, and not all of her writing attempts to speak in these timeless, folkloric tones. She can also be tongue-in-cheek, second-guessing some of the charges that might be brought, not least in a poem such as “Against Nostalgia,” its title alone a wink to the camera after what’s gone before. Poems such as these show another of Groarke’s strengths: her gift for celebratory empathy. The refrain of “Against Nostalgia” — charmingly histrionic “Oh’s” — runs in deliberate tension with the title." Declan Ryan LARB
"Wiman’s formal dexterity means he is able to carve out the right form for each utterance which makes for a dynamic, dense read. It also makes for a collection that feels hard won, in that it carries within all its shifting shapes an understanding of the absolute effort of faith — of finding it, naming it, doubting it, desiring it — and by extension the absolute effort every poem has to make in order to survive the complexity of its significance." GE Stevens Review 31
"He played a long game and, like his hero Martin Luther King, he had a vision. The veracity of that vision is underlined with every passing year of non-violence in Northern Ireland. In our uneasy moment, when the politics of division are again playing havoc with people’s lives, in the UK and on a global scale, we could do well to remember the philosophy of John Hume, the enduring power of hope over despair." Colette Bryce Irish Times
"[Carl] Phillips depictions of the human condition are formed under conditions of extraordinary acceptance. This is not indifference, but a deeply particularised compassion." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"I imagine you pacing your cell, just as I have done. Feeling with each passing day, the added strain. But I know too, that with each passing day you will reach further into your reserves – reserves that you have always thought finite – and discover strength of which you had never dreamed." Wole Soyinka Humanists International
"Cunard’s relationship with Beckett demonstrates how she was more than simply the means to his publishing ends. His talents served her political ends in turn. In 1934, she enlisted Beckett to translate essays for her landmark work, the Negro Anthology. After censors rejected one of the Beckett-translated essays ahead of publication, Cunard secretly inserted the pages herself while assembling the book. This anti-racist anthology comprises, in Anna Girling’s words, “one of the most comprehensive pre-Civil Rights era documents of transatlantic black history and culture”." Maurice J Casey Irish Times
"Quick to craft and consume, poetry is uniquely placed as a cultural form to offer catharsis for current readers, as well as a unique documentation of tensions for future ones." Katy Shaw New Statesman

"Walcott also tried to write during his time in New York, but it would be some years before he achieved the detachment necessary for him to be able to coherently set down his complex, troubled feelings about the city. In the poem “A Village Life,” he makes clear that it was never easy for him to properly establish a work routine. He was perpetually short of money, fed up with enduring a harsh winter shrouded in a large overcoat, and always homesick. Somewhat ironically, he later remembered “a snowfall of torn poems piling up,/heaped by a rhyming spade,” but little of the poetry he actually wrote in New York ever found its way into print." Caryl Phillips NYRB
"Spenser wrote “The Faerie Queene” while working as a high-level British colonial administrator in Ireland, implementing brutal tactics of oppression against the native population. Virgil wrote the “Aeneid” in the first years of the Roman Empire, as Augustus attempted to reshape his image from that of a ruthless, warmongering autocrat to that of a beneficent leader. The “Odyssey” was composed around the end of the 8th century B.C., close to a century before Greek city-states began to develop the first form of democracy." Talya Zax NYT
"The sense of place conjured here is not something of which, in James’s poem, Larkin’s imagination is conscious, and the Larkin of James’s poem is certainly not how Larkin saw himself as a writer. In 1965 he wrote to his publisher lamenting the fact that ‘ordinary sane novels about ordinary sane people doing ordinary sane things can’t find a publisher these days’. Such novels represent ‘the tradition of Jane Austen and Trollope’, and Larkin continues: ‘I like to read about people who have done nothing spectacular, who aren’t beautiful or lucky, who try to behave well in the limited field of activity they command, but who can see, in little autumnal moments of vision, that the so called “big” experiences of life are going to miss them; and I like to read about such things presented not with self pity or despair or romanticism, but with realistic firmness and even humour’." Simon Petch Sydney Review of Books
"“In dreams”, wrote W.B. Yeats, “begins responsibility”. But who wants to be responsible for baked wooden pallets?" Fintan O'Toole Irish Times
"The road to the internet is paved with literature." Michael Farrell Sydney Review of Books
"It feels like anything is possible when it comes to poetry right now, so I want to capture how poets are creating or making the most of those possibilities. I want drama to get in the ring with dumb jokes, and landscapes to mingle with pop culture references. But ultimately I’ll be looking for poems that I can’t wait to tell everybody about". Chris Tse The Spinoff
"One of [The Candlelight Master's] finest moments is "After Amergin", recounting the original Irish poet’s first step onto Irish shores, as recounted in the Book of Invasions (though an end-note claims it as part of the Ulster Cycle). [Michael] Longley’s version introduces a dozen new images, incorporates motifs used throughout the collection (especially, the otter and the burial mound), and also operates as a reflection on his part in the spiralling and continuing poetic influences of his generation’s work." John McAuliffe The Irish Times
"“Not every sound/is a voice not every breath is a self,” a nameless speaker in Nobody observes. In defying the familiar links between sound, voice, breath, and self, [Alice] Oswald has created an intransigent body of work that is more interested in questions than answers, fractures than perfection, risks than security." Kit Fan Poetry
"Eight years after Stan Smith’s review she first contributed to PN Review, issue 41: the poem ‘Listen: this is the Noise of Myth’. She did some reviewing, and then came the transformative contributions, starting with the poem ‘Outside History’, followed six months later by an essay of the same title. It was writing that changed me, ‘and I took those changes with me into my life, where they continue to instruct it’. In all, she contributed to the magazine forty-seven times in her own voice. I cannot say how many times she is present by suggestion or simply by her example, which persists." Michael Schmidt PN Review
"When he taught a course at the University of California, Berkeley in 1971, Sun Ra's syllabus included The Egyptian Book of the Dead; the theosophical works of Madame Blavatsky, the nineteenth-century Russian medium; Henry Dumas, a brilliant poet gunned down by New York City Transit Police in 1968. He often cited George G.M. James’s Stolen Legacy (1954), which claimed that Greek philosophy had filched its ideas from Egyptian mythology." Namwali Serpell NYRB
"Stephen Dedalus agonised over using the language of the oppressor, but we can’t imagine the pain of losing language through the systematic, brutal separation of children from their parents. Only a handful of elders were able to transmit the Mohave language when Diaz returned to her community in 2013 to work on saving it. Her sense of community, like her fine collaborations with Ada Limón, are part of a particular Native American generosity." Martina Evans The Irish Times


New poems

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

Osip Mandelstam One Hand Clapping

Carl Phillips Yale Review

Dan Chiasson The Yale Review

Sasha Dugdale Guardian

Paul Muldoon The Yale Review

Valzhyna Mort New Yorker

Michael Hofmann Australian Book Review

Marion McCready The Manchester Review

Lucille Clifton Paris Review

Richie Hofmann Sewanee Review

Amit Majmuder New Criterion

Julie O'Callaghan The Irish Times

Jeff Dolven jubilat

Roger Mitchell Mudlark

Vona Groarke Hudson Review

G.C. Waldrep Flag + Void

Maryam Hessavi The Manchester Review

Jeffrey Wainwright The Manchester Review

Thomas Kinsella Irish Times

Vahni Capildeo Anthropocene

Alexandra Watson Scoundrel Time

Madison White Anthropocene

Iulia David The Scores

Susan Stewart Blackbox Manifold

Shane McCrae The Scores

Shane McCrae Granta

Carl Phillips Poetry



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