Archive | Reviews

Making the Angels Wince: Roy Nicosia on Frances Payne Adler

Making the Angels Wince Reviewed:  The Making of a Matriot by Frances Payne Adler. Red Hen Press, 2003. 100 pages, $13.95. The Making of a Matriot is the sort of book that makes one embarrassed for poets in general, and Frances Payne Adler in particular. The author, who directs something called “the Creative Writing and Social […]

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The Well-Wrought Void: Joan Houlihan on Christian Wiman

Reviewed: every riven thing by Christian Wiman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. 93 pages. From its hardcover heft and granite-engraved dust jacket (remove the jacket and a black, bible-like, hardback cover is revealed), to its ivory paper stock and black section divider pages (complete with roman numerals blazoned in white), every riven thing announces the […]

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Meaningful Disorientations: Joanie Mackowski Reviews Books by Mary Jo Bang and Peter Campion

Mary Jo Bang’s new book, The Bride of E, is a disorderly book. It’s disorderly in a fascinating way, though: it’s a fractured abecedarian. An abecedarian is like the dictionary, that most orderly of books: sacrificing everything—plot, character, thematic arc, etc—to the unrelenting order of the alphabet. An alphabet, then, is writing with order but no sense. Most abecedarian books do not so exploit this inherent potential for senselessness, but Bang’s new book works this potential artfully and resonantly to convey a life devastated by meaninglessness and disorientation. It’s a strange, difficult, and beautiful book.

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A Polish Poet You Should Know

Reviewed: Peregrinary by Eugeniusz Tkaczszyn-Dycki, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston, Zephyr Press, 2008, $14.95 Translator Bill Johnston observes that Eugeniusz Tkaczszyn-Dycki’s hyphenated last name is a bit much even for Poles, and I follow their (and Johnston’s) custom in referring to the poet henceforth as Dycki—pronounced Dits-kee. However difficult his name may appear […]

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The Good, The Fad, and The Ugly

If you were paying attention this summer, you know that for most of the world, football is a game in which players kick the ball strategically around a large grassy area and ultimately into a goal at one end of the field.

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A Formal Party

There are a number of striking similarities between these books: for starters, there’s the preference both poets display for traditional meters and forms, as well as the variety of those forms—sestinas, sonnets (Petrarchan, Shakespearean, terza rima and otherwise ) blank verse, rondeaux, villanelles.

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An Ellipsis Experiencing Phantom Excitement In a Sentence Limb

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.

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A Glint of Bullion Hefted

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.

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Lost in the Cave of the Mouth

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

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Chalkboard Dyspepsias & Intransitive Decantings

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.”

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