The Page
poetry, essays, ideas
"A poem’s politics can’t be neatly deduced from its formal surface, or a poet’s politics from her chosen verse style. Claims to the contrary stem from many sources, some of them vital to the history of the art; but they are rooted, ultimately, in an American fixation on branding, packaging, and labels. The politicization of the “free” in “free verse” deserves scrutiny as an American marketing ploy: a cliché of the “free market” in the “land of the free.” The contrasting term “formalism,” applied to metrical poetry whether the poet likes it or not, deserves scrutiny as a misleading label: a term almost perfectly contrived to sound staid (“formal”) and ideological (“ism”)." Austin Allen LARB
"The Duino Elegies has ten poems in it. Geography III is 64 pages long. I’m not so worried about disappearing that I feel I need to publish a book every two years. I also write lots of things–just not poetry–and I write every day. Each of my books of poems has been written within a certain context, within a fairly tightly defined period of time, and they reflect a certain way of thinking and art-making. When I write poems, it has to be driven by some urgency–existential, spiritual, psychological–and not just out of some sense of wanting to see my name in print." Mark Wunderlich • Tupelo Quarterly

"This is a child’s fantasy of connection. What, then, is the writer’s? As [Victoria] Chang understands it, her family sacrificed “to build a better life, without the incisions of the past.” Her own project is not to erase those incisions—or even, as a child might hope, to heal them—but to retrace and redescribe them. If there are wounds in the past, she seeks to live with them as scars." Kamran Javadizadeh • New Yorker

"As impossible as it is for translation to capture all aspects of any poem, a version of Purgatorio must convey some of this mood or atmosphere. That should be doable in any language, though one would never know it by reading the American poet Mary Jo Bang’s version of Purgatorio, which is the sequel to her similar Inferno translation of a few years back." Andrew Frisardi • Plough

"You can love Whitman’s irrepressible arias while acknowledging his limits as a poet representative of humanity. As the Earth says in his poem “Pensive on Her Dead Gazing, I Heard the Mother of All”: “let not an atom be lost.” Carry it all, as the earth carries and absorbs the dead. Set none of Whitman down." Han Vanderhart • The Rumpus

"Like a lot of contemporary poetry, [Kaveh] Akbar’s work seems written to be performed by Method actors. " William Logan • Tourniquet Review

"When I mischievously slipped a pastiche Judas poem into The Book of Judas just before it went to press, [Brendan Kennelly] phoned me on getting his copies and read the poem back to me, exploding in paroxysms of laughter at every line, immensely pleased by this betrayal in the spirit of “our” book as he called it. An editorial session at Trinity to work on a book was always punctuated with laughter, anecdotes, recitations, and Brendan wisecracks – nuggets of Kennelly or Kerry wisdom – and celebrated later with dinner on him at ‘The Troc’ a couple of blocks away. But that was never a short walk with Brendan stopping or being stopped every few yards to greet or be greeted by someone, listening to their stories, saying a poem, receiving a hug from a stranger or discreetly slipping a few euro into the hand or pocket of someone down on their luck. Everyone felt blessed by him. I know I did." Neil Astley Irish Times
"Instead of predicting the next word in a sentence, GPT-3 would produce several paragraphs in whatever style it intuited from your prompt. If you prompted it Once upon a time, it would produce a fairy tale. If you typed two lines in iambic pentameter, it would write a sonnet." Meghan O'Gieblyn Nplusone
"Here the crises between punctuation and beingness, that infiltrates all writing, is operating at two ends of the economy. To briefly come back to ideas of expense – a question of what we can afford to say — and to my comment on the students work (teaching them, as I was, to budget the hyperboles), the wealth of the characters in Second Pace means there’s plenty, and that one can afford the excesses of an exclamation. In Guitar! the focus is on the economical; the limited time for writing and the reduction of language (and all its available profundity!) to a single, small word, with albeit delicious syllabics." Holly Pester MAP
"In his second collection, Nectarine, Chad Campbell stands at the threshold of hushed worlds in highly visual and sonically elegant poems. The first of the book’s three parts delivers darkly impressionistic scenes: “the half- // skinned auks look back over the isle / at what the fire cast: the outline of a man / boiling them.”" Ryo Yamaguchi Harriet
"Sincerity, rightly deployed, can pierce the surface of a poem, as it can sometimes do the ordinary business of a life. We have come to expect it of poetry. I blame the strategic disclosures of the Confessionalist style but really it’s a useful, tried and trusted trope whenever the lyric ‘I’ feels the weight of the poem’s formal scaffolding, and threatens to buckle or warp." Vona Groarke PN Review
"Translating early Welsh poetry is an extreme sport, requiring match fitness. I find tracing [Gillian] Clarke’s reasons for her choices fascinating, because it gives an insight into her imagination as she performs these elegies. In the end, my quibbles are a matter of taste." Gwyneth Lewis PN Review
"Just as he took on the guise of sexual tough guy, self-deprecating poet became another of his poses: ‘I have been reading the proofs of my collected poems, 500 pages of them, TWICE, looking for errors and all I have been able to see in forty years of poetry is pretentiousness, datedness, and boredom, boredom, boredom…[I] felt about as kindly to the poetry in front of me as I were Ian Hamilton.’ As we know from earlier letters, Gunn does not think much of Ian Hamilton." Colm Toibin PN Review
"But I was already boxing and when I won the junior Ukraine championships I realised it might be a step to somewhere for me, so I decided to enter the Physical Education Institute. But I like theatre, I write poems and I learnt to play the guitar. I like different things.” Oleksandr Usyk Guardian
"Both of these poems, in their moments, were wildly successful. Heaney won the Nobel Prize four years after Seeing Things. Rupi Kaur has four million Instagram followers, and the poem above received 184,000 likes. But other than their popularity, these two poems are not alike in any way. Rupi Kaur’s poems are not manipulations of language like Heaney’s are. They are manipulations of the images of language." Stephen Marche • Literary Hub

"Even before Jaccottet’s passing in February of this year at the age of 95—and “passing” is an obvious euphemism, but perhaps a forgivable one in the case of a poet who so fully embodied the role of both passant (a fleeting presence, a man discreetly passing through) and passeur (the ferryman, an image often used in French to designate the translator)—there was already a poignant vulnerability in the publication of “safeguarded notes” spanning half a century." Samuel Martin • Reading in Translation

The Page is taking a break and will return in September.
"Perhaps the tension generated by the tasks of the presidency strengthens the tension of writing, of the imagination, of the creative drive. I write on the computer, but I also write on pieces of paper, on napkins . . . I must have dozens upon dozens of notebooks full of scribbles. I write any way I can, including on my cell phone (in the tiny square designated for "notes"). I even write when I don't have paper, pen, or computer. With the mind, with the memory. I see, for example, that I wrote this early one morning (May 14, 2020): “. . . Through this time, unmeasured even by the codé1 of Zeus and Tyche, its Creator, I dream of an agile, expert trumpeter with long hair and full curls, a slender, mulatto body, whose name, of course, I do not know, but who is certainly not the fruit of Prudentia's magic potion, much less descended from castrated Uranus . . ."" Jorge Carlos Fonseca Words Without Borders
"In 1987, Poetry Ireland Review published an article titled, “Who is Ireland’s Most Neglected Poet – A Survey.” Though the introduction to the article states confidently that they put the question to ‘a wide range of Irish poets – of both sexes and several generations,’ while the latter appears to be true, the former is most certainly not. Out of the twenty-two respondents, precisely zero were women. Each of these respondents picked one or two poets to champion. Out of their choices, precisely zero were women. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be a woman poet at this time and feel so extraordinarily excluded from this discourse and, ironically, neglected in every possible sense." Victoria Kennefick Kenyon Review
"But I do love research — if that was a job I would just do that, some kind of Walter Benjamin Arcades Project. And when I was researching for The Caiplie Caves in the Scottish Fisheries Museum, in little local museums and galleries and in the libraries — I can’t count the number of times I was reading and thought, “Oh, it’s all coming together. Eureka!” And then discovered someone made those connections in 1640 and there are books about it. [Laughs.] So that happens, and I probably do spend a lot of time excited over connections I’ve made between what has already been connected." Karen Solie LARB
"But above all, it’s nature poetry that has the body and embodiment at the heart of it. Because when a black poet interrogates nature poetry in the West, it has to be done like that." Jason Allen-Paisant Spelt
"Of course, like most old poets, Anthony could feel washed up by the remorseless tide of new writers, and neglected. That comes with the territory." Peter Scupham remembers Anthony Thwaite PN Review
"As in Anne Carson’s masterful long poem, The Glass Essay (“You remember too much,/ my mother said to me recently.// Why hold on to all that? And I said,/ Where can I put it down?’), the poems in [Liz] Quirke’s collection wrestle with the task of crafting vessels of their own. In 'December(s)', two scenes are presented, a year apart: the first is clipped and stark, and the second unspools, making full use of the page. Elsewhere, there is a cinematographic attention to perspective, so that grief is examined from many angles, all coursing through the speaker: “My father is dirty water sluicing through my veins”." Seán Hewitt Irish Times
"The Diaspora poets looked back on their homeland with a different gaze from the poets who were and are still living within Zimbabwe. The new voices that emerged from within Zimbabwe were rooted in the struggles of their predecessors who wrote protest poetry against the regime. The new millennium has also seen an increase in prominent female poets." Togara Muzanenhamo Almost Island
"While there is both the profound and the weighty in The Readiness, [Alan] Gillis does not squat Atlas-like before the reader, demanding our appreciation of his effort in the bearing of great weight." Patrick Davidson Roberts The High Window
"The history of literature contains some faint parallels to his performance of multiple authorship. William Butler Yeats created Michael Robartes and Owen Hearne, a duo of “collaborators” with contrasting personalities. The Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875–1939) also signed some of his poems and prose pieces with the names of two alter egos: Juan de Mairena and Abel Martín, who was Mairena’s “master.” But no writer can rival Pessoa’s achievement of configuring, through his heteronyms, radically different poetic and philosophical attitudes that formed a glorious if not always harmonious musical ensemble." Richard Zenith Lithub
"Early on she quotes a remark of his about how a poem manages to make sense: “There is a moment, an actual time, when you believe something to be true, and you construct a meaning from these moments of conviction.” Like George, Mary [Oppen] was as attuned to understanding the dynamics of a moment of conviction as she was wary of turning it into an imperative about how to write or what to think. Life is lived, art created and responsibility renewed through a constant, often painstaking sense of readjustment from moment to moment, word to word, conviction to conviction. The concision, clarity and candor with which Mary describes such moments of readjustment, and her and George’s lives more generally, is the signature of Meaning a Life." John Palattella The Point
" Shelley talks about “a going out of our own nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own”. Well, if you’re identifying with it, you’re not going out of your own nature. You’ve got out of your own nature and then – how charming – you find it’s you! All this pretence has made me love again, and more than ever, DH Lawrence’s poems about other creatures, other species. Such reminders of the limits of the sympathetic imagination." Christopher Ricks New Statesman
"Ever the impoverished poet, Michael Horovitz rarely lost an opportunity to sell his books – often out of shopping bags. They include four volumes of the Poetry Olympics and his last publication, A New Waste Land: Timeship Earth at Nillennium (2007), a jeremiad on the state of the nation, and the state of the planet. Like his friend Jeff Nuttall, Horovitz frequently employed visual art and music, often jazz, in his work. He fronted the William Blake Klezmatrix band, where he played “the anglo saxophone”, an instrument he self-fashioned from a kazoo. He regarded rock stars as poetry’s troubadours, and collaborated with musicians such as Damon Albarn and Paul Weller." Douglas Field Guardian
"Then toward the end of my teens I really started to admire Auden a great deal. Early Auden. Anne Ridler said that reading Auden made her want to write poetry in the first place. He had an idiom that seemed to be adapted to anything he did and to be able to link the ancient craft of poetry with modern experience. You must remember that I was young and ignorant and I didn't know about the modernists, and I didn't know much about Eliot then and I hadn't read Baudelaire, or I would have known that other people had written about modern experience. But Auden seemed so available. He made writing seem easy. I am very grateful to him for having, in one sense, started me off. I did feel a great need to disown him, as one does with one's earliest influences, as soon as I started to write a little more seriously. You know, it's called castrating one's father." Thom Gunn PN Review (1989)
"Something else happens when he “hears” Ezra Pound first. In 1963, he wrote to Tony Tanner: “am now working my way through Pound, for this new course next semester. I must say, there isn’t really much there in Pound, is there?” Three years later, he tells Tanner, “With Canto 2 or 47 or the other splendid bits of Pound, I completely forget all the bullshit about Usura”, and by the 1980s, the Cantos have become a completely integral part of his imaginative resource: “We don’t think of them as disasters, do we?”, he writes admonishingly to Clive Wilmer, “We think of them as defining a new sense of form. What needs emphasizing is that the best of the Cantos are as solid as writing can get, for example, I don’t see how Canto 47 could be better, in any way.” John McAuliffe on Thom Gunn DRB
"Mackay Brown despaired of modernity, and felt that the time-honoured worship of ‘the Word’ was now replaced by worship of ‘the Number’. He rarely left Orkney, and only visited England once, a traumatic trip to London, where the scale of the city appalled him, and he only left Scotland again to stay with his friend Seamus Heaney, in Ireland." Nigel Wheale Fortnightly Review
"Poetry anthologies aren’t famous for being inclusive; editors make their mark by being selective, and new selections make new debates. For example, Rita Dove’s Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry (2011) collected the usual suspects (Eliot, Stevens) along with less lauded practitioners, many of whom were poets of color. Helen Vendler’s critique of the Dove anthology in the New York Review of Books was titled with a question Vendler appeared to answer in the negative: “Are these the poems to remember?” These days, Dove’s prophetic selections, like Gwendolyn Brooks and June Jordan, are the poets of the past whom many present-day practitioners prefer." Katie Peterson • Public Books

"Stevens speaks of “the central poem” as a “huge, high harmony.” We come upon it “a little,” and then “suddenly,” in the form of “lesser poems,” by which he means actual poems and art works as well as casual perceptions and intimations, stray thoughts and observations, in the course of daily life — where your mind goes when you walk about. These “lesser poems” are parts of the whole, a grand orchestration that they together compose, and that yet exceeds them: reality in its fullness." Langdon Hammer LARB
"“Poetry releases us into our own custody” – a persuasive idea. And what happens in Lyonesse is that, through the alchemy of poetry, solitude becomes companionable." Kate Kellaway Observer
"Had The New Yorker accepted “Remove,” would I have written this essay? In the first place, the odds were stacked against their acceptance. When it comes to Palestine and Palestinian voices, The New Yorker, as a major American magazine of record, follows similar patterns as those of other publications." Fady Joudah • LARB

"He fell in with writers Lascelles Abercrombie and Wilfrid Gibson, who were living near Dymock, and moved his family into a little black-and-white house a few miles away. Other poets, including Rupert Brooke and Edward Thomas, joined them, and all were enchanted by the area’s woods, farms and little valleys." Liz Boulter Guardian
"James Keery’s selection of poems by the 1940s Apocalypse poets of the Second World War and by the host of poets influenced by that movement is as startling, a true landmark of an anthology, changing the ways we will now respond to the period. As Peter Riley remarks in his fine review of the volume in The Fortnightly Review, the logic of the selection is looser than an anthology of the Apocalyptics, being more of a gathering together of over two hundred poets when writing in a certain kind of style, abstract and passionate with visionary insight expressed with Blakean clarity, doomy with the world-ending intimations of mass violence both inward and political as the Second World War loomed and burst upon the world, intricately concrete in the handling of the particulars raised into provisional being by the words." Adam Piette Blackbox Manifold
"In addition, and just as importantly, is the realisation that the poet has brought Ireland to every corner of the globe through the universality of his work. Yeats always wrote about the mortal challenges: excavating and untangling love, success, failure, friendship, ageing and death." Susan O'Keeffe Irish Times
"We will have to reach down into the taken-for-granted machinery of language,” writes Bronislaw Szerszynski, a scholar of technology and history, in Critical Zones. His brilliant piece explores the parallels between grammatical structures and the worldviews they express. For example, the imperfect verb tense of constructions like “You were reading this book” allows potentiality and actualization to coexist and interdepend—in other words, it creates a grammatical space where action and achievement let go some of their primacy. Similarly, the “middle voice”—between passive and active, as in “I soothe myself”—implies an immersion in action that transcends the binary of acting or being acted upon. “You are doing something, but in a way that opens you up to alterity, to the wider situation,” Szerszynski writes, and then adds this startling statement: “In such activities we become more like plants.”" Erika Howsare Boston Review
"The challenge of Glück’s poetry is not in its diction – which is often elemental, monosyllabic, recognisably lyric – and not in its syntax, either, which is easily graspable: the challenge is in reading the implications of the sentences, the way one sentence opens to the next, and the power of the unsaid, what’s felt in the movement or leap between lines and sentences as much as what’s in them." Joshua Weiner and Daniel Tiffany in conversation PN Review
"My favourite definition of a poem at the moment comes courtesy of Valéry: ‘A prolonged hesitation between sound and sense.’ I think poetry will always hesitate between music and meaning, and individual poems will settle at various points on the continuum. Sometimes, too, the hesitation will be part of the poem’s primary affect. The idea of song also reinforces that sense of poetry as something that once existed only as musical utterance – chant and charm and incantation. A 1974 anthology of Māori poetry translated into English is called The Singing Word, and that seems fair enough." Bill Manhire PN Review
"[Ciaran] Carson’s gorgeous sequence Still Life ranks among his very best work. Written over the course of just a few months following a terminal cancer diagnosis, this characteristically discursive and witty collection reads like an envoi to his wife Deirdre. The lapse of time is marked, symbolically, by the decay of a lemon – “we wanted to see with our own eyes / The end of the life cycle of the lemon” (‘Angela Hackett’) – and the development of a building site near their Belfast home. Frequent mentions of hospital visits and medical treatments in turn augur Carson’s own decline. Yet while the mood is elegiac, the collection is above all a paean to art and life – to the senses, the mind, and love." Chris Cusack The Poetry Review
" I was so embarrassed when I read it, I decided to write you a letter of apology. I shuddered at my critiques of what I called your “leaps of obscurity” in the book. The tiny eyes of a young poet. Icarus critiquing the wings of Daedalus just before takeoff. I’ve learned to embrace the confusion I sometimes experience inside a poem. (Our young poets will ask for an example and I will say find your own damn example of confusion.)" Terrance Hayes on Yusef Komunyakaa Boston Review
"My career as a writer started really late, after I retired from teaching at Wellesley. And it really got started for me as a translator, as somebody who had done a lot of books of translation. So I was “a translator,” in the sense that it was different from being a poet. But like every other translator of a poem, you get to feel that the long poem (or the long set of poems) by some writer that you’re translating, however ancient, is your poem. There’s a bizarre sense in which I am right now writing the Aeneid." David Ferry in conversation with Daniel Bosch and George Kalogeris Literary Matters
"There are also very few writers you will remember where you were, when you were, how you were, upon first reading. It is no exaggeration to write that you, Friederike Mayröcker, have been one of them for me.”" Alexander Booth • A Public Space

"So: a verse-novel set in a sci-fi future. Guriel wastes no time in acquainting us with a subculture there, one whose members indulge a fascination with, of all things, obscure rock bands. (Not least of Guriel’s achievements, from my Bach-besotted perspective, is his making me ask myself why one wouldn’t be fascinated with obscure rock bands.)”" Daniel Brown • Literary Matters

"We may not know when Homer was born, but we can say for certain that he ceased to exist in the early nineteen-thirties, when a young Harvard professor named Milman Parry published two papers, in the journal Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, with the seemingly innocuous title “Studies in the Epic Technique of Oral Verse-Making.”" Adam Kirsch • New Yorker

"Having spent twenty-three lines painting a picture of the ‘proto-dream-house’ and what she might do in it, Bishop performs a shuddering U-turn, dismissing the whole fantasy in the space of two words: ‘But – impossible’. Two words and a dash, rather – the entire business of why this fantasy is impossible is left hanging, unstated, in the space of that dash, a kind of shrugged blank for the reader to fill in for herself." Helen Tookey • Moxy

"So why does Martin Amis go to such lengths to imagine this intimate kinship with Larkin? It provides good copy. Larkin’s name sells books. But the reason lies deeper than this." James Booth • The Critic

"The Ecuadorian poet, who has been hailed by Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda as “the best Latin American poet of his generation,” has finally made his book-length debut in English—or, more precisely, in “postenglish.”" Olivia Lott • Words Without Borders

"When I was nine years old, I stood onstage in front of the whole school and recited a poem by my mother, Jean Valentine, about the end of her marriage to my father." Rebecca Chace • Yale Review

"There is no greater tribute for a poet than for a composer to take from his work something for his own purpose. The others can keep their gaudy prizes." Marius Kociejowski PN Review
"The Russian poet and essayist Maria Stepanova has aptly called this phenomenon “history as laughing gas,” a process by which those who feel deprived of power find vicarious dignity in the feats of their predecessors. It bears a startling resemblance to recent trends in the United States and Western Europe, where Trump supporters fly Confederate flags and Brexiteers recite Kipling, but its roots in Russia reach back to the fall of the Soviet Union." Sophie Pinkham • Harper's

"Karen Solie is the freshest poetic voice I’ve encountered in a long while." William Logan • New Criterion

"To have not only survived thirty-one years, as Sylvia Plath did, but to have filled those years with works of staggering beauty, with poems that irradiate generations of lives — that is a rare triumph of the spirit." Maria Popova • Brainpickings

"How can cosmopolitan sympathies persist in times of heightened nationalism? The chapter on Isaac Rosenberg and the poetry of World War I shows that a poem like “Break of Day in the Trenches” delicately illuminates the transnational commonalities between soldiers, in defiance of political and national divisions. No-Man’s Land provokes in Rosenberg a desire for the “pleasure / To cross the sleeping green between”. Such a reading will not surprise readers of the poetry of World War I; instead, Ramazani’s achievement is to incorporate such conclusions in a broader approach to poetry." Justin Quinn • Dublin Review of Books

"Creeley’s Selected Letters are almost uniformly uneventful and dreary." August Kleinzahler • LRB

"A skinny man who carried a world of books within him, Adam Zagajewski was the kind of person who would offer to drop you off at your hotel after a poetry reading only to pull over midway to better focus on a conversation about poetry. He would email the next day to recommend some more poets he loved, without any of that Bloomian anxiety of influence. None of this was a performance: he was a very shy person, gracious, precise. He believed in the soul—that the soul must live in lyric poetry. That, most of all." Ilya Kaminsky • Yale Review

"[Zoom] always puts you in a kind of hollow space. After some of these meetings, I feel very hollow in a way, because there’s really no reaction. There’s no interaction. There is no life, onstage action." Durs Grünbein • LitHub

“I was interrogated. So was he. They said he was at the interrogation centre. But he didn’t come back, only his body.” Chaw Su Guardian
"Long before the revelations of recent years, his poems and satires dealt with the cruelties in schools and orphanages, abuses of clerical authority, the moral issues of Catholic conscience, the plight of unmarried mothers, priestly celibacy, the bigotries of the devout, and the censorship laws." Gerard Smyth on the 125th centenary of Austin Clarke Irish Times
'Horrex gathers and shapes her material with a light touch. From the title to the last line, her poem suggests how our concept of the “natural” has itself been eroded. She doesn’t flinch from condemnation. But the poem seems to contain a great deal of sheer pleasure in textures, places, colours, lines." Carol Rumens Guardian
"Martina Evans is that rarest of rara avis, a poet whose work is at once serious and authentically enjoyable. As Bernard O’Donoghue has said, her poems are collectively “a miracle, for the way they combine total clarity with profundity”. Evans is working now with more brio and fearlessness than ever before. American Mules is a book of splendours and will surely count among her very best." Conor O'Callaghan The Irish Times
"The question of speech and empire, and what language a colonial subject should use, is a constant subtext in the poems, essays, and fiction of the avant-garde modernist Yi Sang. During his short life, Yi wrote in his native Korean and his received Japanese, while experimenting with, and thus subverting, the rules of both languages. Japanese gave Yi a measure of freedom: He read the French Surrealists and Dadaists in translation and adopted their unsentimental style to process his own dislocation under empire." E. Tammy Kim • The Nation

"While we hear plenty about what might once have been called his “personal life,” this type of candor belies any great plumbing of more private depths. There are few psychological insights, and only rarely do we see behind the mask of the cheery, light-hearted enjoyer of life. We witness Gunn habitually practicing his own advice. The writer we encounter is, above all, honest, and if what we get is surface rather than self-scrutiny, it’s a seeking, open, generous surface." Declan Ryan Poetry
"Her essays are counterintuitive, but never contrarian. (“We must run roughshod over what threaten to become memories.”) Ryan isn’t interested in what a Robert Frost poem reveals about his politics, or the economic conditions that shaped Marianne Moore. She has never handled a hot take." Jason Guriel • Literary Hub

"While it’s hard not to feel sometimes that all we’re doing when we write is sitting in a room talking to ourselves, what a poetry friendship can do, or has done for me at any rate, is connect the practice of the art to its beginnings in a premodern, even pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer, past when agents and publicists did not exist. It has given me a kind of freedom from the expense of spirit in a waste of shame that has accompanied the art’s professionalization —and it has shown me how poetry, even while drenched in a market economy, still has its roots in older, more intimate forms of human belonging." Alan Shapiro Triquarterly
"Thwaite was respected and praised for the clarity, precision and depth of his verse, but the underlying pillars of his work – his marriage, his faith and his love for archaeology – gave a distinctiveness to his poems that was unique among the writing of his contemporaries." Eric Homberger Guardian
"There are, of course, dangers in that desire to include ‘us’ with the writer’s own views. These dangers are that making us all complicit does actually become finger-pointing by any other name. It says that ‘I’ recognize these dangers and you do not. It is me who is holding up the mirror and who shifts the emotional burden on to you, the reader. Perhaps, Hirshfield recognises that danger in the next poem in the book, ‘The Bowl’." Ian Pople The Manchester Review
"Our eyes were opened and when, years later, I read Rimbaud I recognised like an augury his discovery of another entire dimension." John McAuliffe Kaleidoscope
"Although Troubles tourism is now a vital aspect of Belfast’s economy, you’d struggle to find an elected representative who’d live within this particular attraction. To paraphrase that well-worn phrase which politicians are wont to use: is sauce for the goose ever sauce for the gander?" Scott McKendry Irish Times / Irish Journal of Anthropology
"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

New poems

Carola Luther The Manchester Review

Virginia Konchan The Walrus

Paul Muldoon New Yorker

Atsuro Riley Poetry Daily

Sharon Olds Threepenny Review

Ahlam Bsharat The Baffler

Shane McCrae jubilat

Nick Laird Granta

Douglas Kearney jubilat

Eileen Myles jubilat

Liz Quirke The Manchester Review

Iz Mazano Almost Island

Eloisa Amezcua Ploughshares

Naush Sabah The Dark Horse

Laura Kasischke Georgia Review

Hosam Maarouf The Baffler

Dave Smith Blackbird

Kate Arthur Blackbox Manifold

Mary Ruefle the Poetry Review

Ocean Vuong The Yale Review

James Brown The Spinoff

Jana Prikryl Atlantic

Rebecca Hazleton Kenyon Review

Brian Bartlett The Walrus

Glorious Piner Scoundrel Time

Francesca Bell B O D Y

Fatima Malik Whale Road Review

Sarah Corbett Bad Lilies

Ricardo Sternberg The Walrus

Nikki Wallschlaeger Georgia Review

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


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