Archive | Reviews

Adventures in Scholarship: Garrick Davis on the Textbook Understanding Poetry

Reviewed: Understanding Poetry by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren. 1st edition, 1938. 2nd edition, 1950. 3rd edition, 1960. 4th edition, 1976.   What was the most important literature textbook of the 20th century? A work by two associate professors at Louisiana State University, it turns out, which went through four editions, and which made […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (2)

An American Way to Go: John Foy on Peter Balakian

Reviewed: Ziggurat by Peter Balakian. University of Chicago Press, 2010. Peter Balakian’s poetry is a “strange brew of wind and light” distilled to one degree or another from primal trauma. He’s as American as Walt Whitman and Joe Namath, a product of high school football teams in the affluent New Jersey suburbs, but he is […]

Posted in Featured, Reviews, This MonthComments (2)

Rick Joines on the Gravity and Levity of Kay Ryan

Reviewed: The Best of It: New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan. Grove Press, 2011. 288 pages. $14.95. Kay Ryan’s pulling-herself-up-by-her-own-muddied-Blundstone-bootstraps-story is already the stuff of legend.  After writing and publishing poems for 20 years or so in relative obscurity, in this last decade she became the darling of Poetry Magazine, won a Guggenheim and […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (4)

Crick-Crossed: Quincy Lehr on Ben Mazer

Reviewed: A City of Angels: A Verse Play in Three Acts by Ben Mazer. Cy Gist Press, 2011 A verse drama—particularly when encountered, not on stage, but in a limited edition chapbook—has a tall order in front of it. It must, solely through dialogue, convey scene, emotion, and plot, even while working as verse. Ben […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (0)

Masterful Variations: Luke Hankins on Ashley Anna McHugh

Reviewed: Into These Knots by Ashley Anna McHugh. Ivan R. Dee, 2010. 68 pp. Hardcover. $22.50. Winner of the 2010 New Criterion Poetry Prize. In Ashley Anna McHugh’s “All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand” (“On Christ the solid rock I stand” goes the previous line of the hymn this title is taken from), a villanelle […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (0)

Don Paterson’s Improbable Distances

Reviewed:  Rain by Don Paterson. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009. 61 pages. What we most love we must lose. That implacable fact of human existence is the ground bass of Don Paterson’s excellent book Rain. It would be wrong to treat the book as a syllogism deriving the importance of love from its improbability and our […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (1)

Short Cuts: Roy Nicosia on a Post-Dementia Poet

Reviewed: Sunday Houses the Sunday House by Elizabeth Hughey. University of Iowa Press, 2006. (Winner of the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize.) Forty years ago, Randall Jarrell sadly proclaimed that the gods who had taken away the poet’s readers had replaced them with students. These days, the students have disappeared as well, and been replaced by […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (4)

The Poem as Devotional Practice: Luke Hankins on the Metaphysical Poets

Scholarship noted: Love’s Architecture: Devotional Modes in Seventeenth-Century English Poetry by Anthony Low. New York University Press, 1978. I. A Lasting Model? Certain religious poets of 17th-century England, often called the “Metaphysical” poets, have gained as firm a place in the Western canon as any group of poets enjoys today. Tangibly speaking, that means that […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (2)

Short Cuts: Lewis Turco on Daniel Hoffman

Reviewed: The Whole Nine Yards: Longer Poems by Daniel Hoffman. Louisiana State University Press, 2009. 96 pages. According to the author of The Whole Nine Yards (winner of the L. E. Phillabaum Poetry Award for 2009), the book: presents tales and suites exploring violence and transcendence, and comprises my third volume of selected poems, following Beyond Silence: […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (0)

Short Cuts: Joan Houlihan on Ange Mlinko

Reviewed: Shoulder Season by Ange Mlinko. Coffee House Press, 2010. 81 pages. If Shoulder Season were a town, it would be a deserted one. All evidence of life—buildings, boardwalks, beds and tables, monuments and blankets, pots of flowers, tools, cars and cribs—would be left intact, the people gone. The only sound would be a voice emanating […]

Posted in Reviews, This MonthComments (8)