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...

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...

Speak, Ranjit

Reasons for Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets, edited by Ranjit Hoskote. Viking (New Delhi) 2002. 148 pages. 195 Rupees.

As Reviewed By: Rabindra K. Swain

“For a time,” warns Michael Roberts in his introduction to the first edition of the influential anthology The Faber Book of Modern Verse, “the false poem may be more popular than the true one could have been.”… continue reading...

Reformulating Forms 

A Close Reading of Two Contemporary Indian Poets

As Reviewed By: Ravi Shankar

The world’s largest secular democracy has been exporting its letters in English for a few literary generations, but in the wake of a few luminaries—Rabindranath Tagore or more recently, Arundhati Roy—many strident, lyrical voices have gone unrecognized (after all, this wave of Indian poets and novelists, for all the hype, is still but a ripple in publishing in terms of sheer numbers).… continue reading...

In the Details

Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems by W. S. Di Piero. Knopf, 2007. 247 pp.

As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber

A hardy strain of poets in America feels that the craft of poetry is often too crafty, that the verse line need be nothing more than a space in which to say something striking, and that elevated diction will cut the poet off from his readers, who are in fact his peers.… continue reading...

Byrd or Cage?

An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art. Edited by Annie Finch and Kathrine Varnes. University of Michigan Press, 2002. 442 pages

As Reviewed By: Jan Schreiber

Seeking still newer ways of challenging themselves with physical barriers to be overcome, young urbanites are flocking to a new sport, called “parkour” by its French inventors.… continue reading...

All My Pretty Selves

After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography edited by Kate Sontag and David Graham. Graywolf Press, 2001.

As Reviewed By: Kathleen Rooney

If you have any interest in confessionalism as a mode of artistic expression, and you haven’t visited the blog Post Secret, “an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard,” then it’s high time you did.… continue reading...

Risen Out of Necessity

North Street by Jonathan Galassi. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.

As Reviewed By: J. S. Renau

Jonathan Galassi has been on the scene for some time now, as a top-notch literary editor, a gifted translator (most notably for his rendering of Eugenio Montale), and lately, as the editor-in-chief of Farrar Straus Giroux.… continue reading...

“I Form the Light and Create Darkness”

The Book of Lamentations: A Meditation and Translation by David R. Slavitt, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

As Reviewed By: J. S. Renau

As a child in a Protestant church, I was required by my elders to commit passages of the Bible to memory, and so it is in many Protestant churches that children become acquainted with transliterated Hebrew prosody before they know what prosody, as such, is (assuming they ever learn).… continue reading...

Full Moon Fever

Reflexes from Anathapuri by K. Chandrasekharan. Writers Workshop (Calcutta, India) 2001.

As Reviewed By: J. S. Renau

I first came upon the poetry of K. Chandrasekharan last year while picking through an issue of Verse magazine dedicated to Indian poets writing in English.… continue reading...

The Poetry We Deserve

Brit Lit: New Writing from the UK and Ireland (October 17, 2002) with Simon Armitage, Mimi Khalvati, Glyn Maxwell, Paul Muldoon & Pascale Petit. 
A panel moderated by Todd Swift, and presented by the Council for Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), the Baruch Center for the Performing Arts, Rattapallax Press, and Poets House.
continue reading...

Rich in the Loss

Selected Translations by W. D. Snodgrass. BOA Editions, 1998.

As Reviewed By: J. S. Renau

W. D. Snodgrass occupies an odd niche in American poetry. One would think a living poet of his generation (he was born in 1926), with a Pulitzer Prize in tow and a legitimate claim to have been one of the first “Confessional” poets, would have risen to the stature of, say, Robert Lowell or Sylvia Plath, but Snodgrass resides largely in the margins of American poetry (this assumes, perhaps naively, that there is a center).… continue reading...


Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000 by Lucille Clifton. Boa Editions. 132pp. $15.00 

As Reviewed By: Justin Quinn

Lucille Clifton came to prominence in the Black Arts movement in the late 1960s, but this selected poems covers a less dramatic period as the poet moves into middle- and then old-age.… continue reading...

Glossing the Ordinary

Poetry at One Remove: Essays by John Koethe. University of Michigan Press, 2000.

The Constructor by John Koethe. HarperFlamingo, 2000.

As Reviewed By: Justin Quinn

John Koethe is one of the small number of prominent American poets who does not make a living by teaching creative writing.… continue reading...

The Multicultural Melt

By: Justin Quinn

The main transformations in American literature over the last thirty years have had a strong effect on poetry as well: the consolidation of African-American writers, the emergence of Native-American, Asian-American and Chicano writers, as well as gay writers, to name but a few.… continue reading...

Studying Sylvia

Sylvia Plath: A Critical Study by Tim Kendall. Faber & Faber/FSG. $15.00 (paper).

As Reviewed By: Justin Quinn

It has always been difficult to disentangle critical appreciations of the poetry of Sylvia Plath from the lurid anecdotage that surrounds her life and premature death.… continue reading...

James Merrill’s Friends and Critics

James Merrill’s Apocalypse by Timothy Materer. Cornell UP.

Familiar Spirits: A Memoir of James Merrill and David Jackson by Alison Lurie. Viking. 

As Reviewed By: Justin Quinn

The publication of James Merrill’s Collected Poems this year has made his long poem, The Changing Light at Sandover, appear somewhat eccentric to the course of his career.… continue reading...


Pen Chants or 12 Spirit-like Impermanences by Lissa Wolsak. New York: Roof Books, 2000. $9.95 (paperback), 74 pp.

As Reviewed By: Ethan Paquin

New from Roof Books (the New York house that brought us L+A+N+G+U+A+G+E magazine, and books by its prominent practitioners including Charles Bernstein, Ray DiPalma, Hank Lazer, Jackson MacLow and Ron Silliman), Lissa Wolsak’s Pen Chants feels like it’s ushering in a new day of sorts for the Language school.… continue reading...

“Relativistic Ejecta”

Signs and Abominations by Bruce Beasley. Wesleyan University Press, 2000. 136 pp. $12.95 (paper)

As Reviewed By: Ethan Paquin

Despite the freedom in his fourth book–plentiful sectioning of poems; spatial liberalism (experimentation with enjambment, spacing, indentation); lofty language; the use of up-to-the-second names and places–Bruce Beasley has written a piece of supreme symmetry, has crafted an architecture so streamlined as to be the subject of a Charles Sheeler gelatin print.… continue reading...

From the [correct] Chinese

Crossing the Yellow River: Three Hundred Poems from the Chinese by Sam Hamill. BOA Editions, 2000. 280 pp. $19.95 (paper)

As Reviewed By: Ethan Paquin

Thomas Merton, whose The Way of Chuang Tzu is perhaps one of America’s better-known translations from the Chinese, begins that book by explaining his “translation” process was essentially “’imitations’ of Chuang Tzu, or rather, free interpretative readings” culled from “four of the best translations of Chuang Tzu into western languages.”… continue reading...

Mixed Economy

Economy of the Unlost (Reading Simonides of Keos with Paul Celan) by Anne Carson,. Princeton University Press, 1999 (hardcover, $29.95) and 2002 (paperback, $14.95).

As Reviewed By: Ethan Paquin

Just because one can write something, one doesn’t necessarily have to write it.… continue reading...

Tiring the Sun with Poetry 

Ledbury Poetry Festival, July 2004

By: Anthony Moore

I wish Edward Thomas (that poet) were here to ponder gulfs in general with me as in the days when he and I tired the sun with talking on the footpaths and stiles of Ledington and Ryton (Robert Frost, “A Romantic Chasm”)

Those days, at the start of World War I, were among the eleven convivial months when Frost lived near Dymock, in England’s rural Gloucestershire.… continue reading...

The Year of Turning Seventy

Littlefoot by Charles Wright. FSG, 2007. 91 pages. $23 cloth.

As Reviewed By: Lorne Mook

Those who know Charles Wright’s career know the story. While in the Army, in Italy, in the spring of 1959, Wright went to the shore of Lake Garda and read “Blandula, Tenulla, Vagula” near the spot where Ezra Pound had composed it, discovering—for the first time, at age 23—poetry propelled not by narrative but by association, the kind of poetry he was meant to create.… continue reading...

At So Many Removes

Trappings by Richard Howard. Turtle Point Press, 1999. 81 pp. $14.95 paper.

As Reviewed By: Preston Merchant

Richard Howard is the high priest of the most secretive sect of the cult of art, one that, sheltered from the rude gaze of public scrutiny, seeks to reward only the initiate.… continue reading...

Art & Leisure

Life on Earth by Frederick Seidel. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001. 68 pp. $22 hardback.

As Reviewed By: Preston Merchant

After the World Trade Center towers were destroyed, the New York Times, New York magazine, and other media devoted significant space to the state of the arts, wondering if the usual banalities that pass for American cultural life had now, finally, been rendered null and void.… continue reading...

Poetry in the Mother Tongue

By: Paul Lake

Despite nearly a century’s advances in science, technology, linguistics, and our understanding of human development and cognition, Freud’s Oedipal myth provides the intellectual cornerstone for postmodern literary analysis as well as the chief impetus for avant-garde experimentation in the arts.… continue reading...

The Shape of Poetry

by Paul Lake

In one of his most memorable pronouncements, written in 1917 at a time when he was championing free verse, Ezra Pound made a classic statement about the shape of poetry:

I think there is a ‘fluid’ as well as a ‘solid’ content, that some poems may have form as a tree has form, some as water poured into a vase.… continue reading...