Archive | July, 2010

An Ellipsis Experiencing Phantom Excitement In a Sentence Limb

Ghost Girl by Amy Gerstler. Penguin Books, 2004. 67pp, $16.

First, a problem of definition. This latest catch-all of Amy Gerstler’s, Ghost Girl, is really less a “book of poems” as such than it is a bringing together, a propulsive gleaning of all the notions of a poetic nature that happened to pass her way since Medicine, her last such collection and the eleventh to appear before the one under review.… continue reading...

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A Glint of Bullion Hefted

Where Shall I Wander by John Ashbery, Ecco Press, 2005. $22.95

When even a very fine poet is able to lob twenty-five volumes of verse into circulation in no more than twice that number of years, there are bound to be, as age withers and custom stales, trace-amounts of dross visible amid the threads of gold and silver.… continue reading...

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Lost in the Cave of the Mouth

Talking with Poets. Edited by Harry Thomas. Handsel Books, 2002. $22.00

Unless very skillfully choreographed, interviews with poets are at best temporizing exercises (to show one is still alive creatively); at worst, a crushing bore.… continue reading...

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Chalkboard Dyspepsias & Intransitive Decantings

Music and Suicide by Jeff Clark. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004. 67 pp. $20

Music and Suicide is Jeff Clark’s fourth book of poems and its advance billing in publishers’ blurbs seizes glowingly on this poet’s growing reputation as an “unclassifiable classic in underground American writing.” His The Little Door Slides Back urged Rimbaud’s reactivated star, shrouded since the dog days of the hallucinogenic ‘60’s and early ‘70s, and if the countercultural growl of that gone time is still audible in this new collection, its throatiness is less due to eighteen-year-old Scotch than to some “unclassifiable classic” of American moonshine.… continue reading...

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The Interpres-sive Lowell 

Collected Poems of Robert Lowell. Edited by Frank Bidart and David Gewanter. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2003. 1181 pages. $45.

Three years ago the Collected Poems everyone was talking about was J.… continue reading...

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Nothing in Excess and Decorum as its Own Reward

Now the Green Blade Rises by Elizabeth Spires. W. W. Norton and Co., 2004. $12.95.

As Reviewed By: James Rother

Since 1981, when her first collection of poems, Globe (1981), made her name a watchword for serenity and poise, Elizabeth Spires has seen her body of work not just praised, but held up as a role model for other poets.… continue reading...

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Where Minutiae Outweigh Aeons

Generations by Pattiann Rogers. Penguin Books, 2004. $16.

Generations, the title of Pattiann Rogers’s new book of poems, is not one seized upon lightly. She has come to it, having entered upon the mysteries it entails over some eight books of poetry that span nearly a quarter-century.… continue reading...

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To Play Noughts & Crosses with Weighty Matters

New and Selected Poems, 1974-2004 by Carl Dennis. Penguin Books, 2004. $18.

“Thinking poets,” if the prevailing folklore is to be believed, are not just thin on the ground, few and far between, and countable only on thumbs; they are rarer even than hens’ false teeth, and with the passing of such giants as A.… continue reading...

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The Untempered Clavier of Carl Phillips

The Rest of Love by Carl Phillips. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2004. 70 pages. $20.

There have always been poets—all right, there have always been a few poets—who, as was said of the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, could produce examples of their art as effortlessly as an apple tree produces apples.… continue reading...

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The Problems of Prosody

Why Quality Control in Poetry Need Not Be Blindsided by Traditionalism

As Reviewed By: James Rother

For decades now, responsible elements within the critical community have disagreed over how to save American poetry from itself.… continue reading...

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