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Gymnastics in Language: Herta Müller

Gymnastics in Language: Herta Müller

Looking at these collages—complete with peculiar drawings and colorful wording—one cannot help but picture a madman/woman hunched over a desk while cutting up words for ransom letters. These poems are in fact ransom letters to an oppressive regime that can only be criticized and exposed anonymously.   What do gymnasts and poets have in common? They both have to bend […]

An Interview with Jeffrey McDaniel

An Interview with Jeffrey McDaniel

Jeffrey McDaniel has a fifth book of poetry due out soon, entitled Chapel of Inadvertent Joy. In it he draws inspiration from Marina Tsvetaeva. He recently took a little time to discuss his poetry with the California Journal of Poetics.   At readings you’ve mentioned a childhood friend from Philadelphia who inspired dark persona poems that tackle drug use and run-ins with […]

“Perfume Bottles Momentarily Unstopped”: A Perspective on Two Collections of Interviews

“Perfume Bottles Momentarily Unstopped”: A Perspective on Two Collections of Interviews

One hopes that in this new age, interviewers and editors continue to value the in-person, in-home interview, though they are out of vogue and more difficult to schedule and execute.     Tony Leuzzi’s Passwords Primeval: American Poets in Their Own Words (BOA Editions, NY 2012) is a collection of interviews with a wide range of poets (Dorianne Laux, Gary […]

Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva – A Reading by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine

Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva – A Reading by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine

In Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine take a new approach to Marina Tsvetaeva’s work by interspersing poems with fragments of prose from her “daybooks,” prose books described by one critic as a “lyric diary.” The book is formatted as an assortment of tasty Tsvetaeva tidbits: poems juxtaposed with prose excerpts, and Kaminsky’s afterword, […]

Carson at AWP 2013

Anne Carson & Lucie Brock-Broido at AWP 2013

The following are notations and excerpts from the closing reading of the 2013 Associated Writers and Writing Programs conference. From Jennifer Benka’s introduction of Anne Carson: Benka quoted Carson as saying, “I never find it possible to think without thinking of myself thinking.” From Anne Carson’s reading: Carson first read selections from her series “Life of Towns” (originally published in […]

Here Come the Blurbies!

Here Come the Blurbies!

And now we honor the poetry books of 2012 and the blurbs that adorn them. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Blurby Awards!   BLURB OF THE YEAR   “When I look out the window of my Winnebago I want to see a Sandra Simonds’ poem on the billboard before I crash. Bless her cranky pornboots.” — Cathy Wagner […]

Po-Chop: Derek Walcott: Origins

Po-Chop: Derek Walcott: Origins

“Beetles lift the dead elephant into the jaws of the forest.”   This line from Derek Walcott’s poem “Origins” creates a powerful metaphor for the cycle of life and specifically the process of decay. The “jaws of the forest” are the mouthparts of the beetles. As they consume dead organic matter, such as an elephant carcass, the beetles reincorporate it […]

The Continued Exile: Tomasz Różycki’s The Colonies

The Continued Exile: Tomasz Różycki’s The Colonies

Tomasz Różycki’s collection of poems, The Colonies, addresses issues of dislocation, abandonment, and borders shifting beyond tongue and national identity. When Poland’s borders shifted west after World War II, Różycki’s family was forced to move from Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine) to Opole, where he was born in 1970. Translator Mira Rosenthal notes in her introduction that Różycki’s narrative of […]

Po-Chop: Gabrielle Calvocoressi: The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart

Po-Chop: Gabrielle Calvocoressi: The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart

“Because it’s always like that. One day, walking through a room, you realize what you were holding is gone and you can’t find it, even when you get down on your knees.” These lines appear in part five of the ten part title sequence, which depicts the profound sense of loss and confusion widely experienced after Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. Each […]

Quinn Latimer’s Rumored Animals

Quinn Latimer’s Rumored Animals

We could not read any other poet and have the experience that we have reading Latimer. Rumored Animals, winner of the American Poetry Journal book prize and published by Dream Horse Press in 2012, is the first volume by Quinn Latimer, and it positions her as one of a new generation of poets who belongs to no school and obeys […]

Po-Chop: Kathleen Graber: The Telephone

Po-Chop: Kathleen Graber: The Telephone

  … once I fell in love with a beautiful voice passing through the wire. I remember the drop of it, a man talking about something he’d read, turning to a page with an audible rustle & breath, whispering, Listen. These are the lines that haunt. It’s not that the skin has no function, only that the tongue can play […]

Injecting Dreams into Cows by Jessy Randall

Injecting Dreams into Cows by Jessy Randall

Jessy Randall’s Injecting Dreams into Cows attempts to dismantle quibbles by critics who claim they are unable to engage with new poetry. Randall’s intent becomes clear in “The Nonexistent Orchard.” The poem opens with an epigraph from the New York Times Book Review which paints leading critic Helen Vendler as out of touch and disinterested in contemporary poetics: “Today Vendler seldom […]


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