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Po-Chop: Gerard Manley Hopkins: [As Kingfishers…]

Po-Chop: Gerard Manley Hopkins: [As Kingfishers…]

“Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name”   Lines like these, from Hopkins’ 1918 poem “[As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame],” demonstrate the poet’s remarkable ability to use form (in this case, the rhythm of the English language) in tandem with content (strings being plucked, a […]

An Interview with Nikola Madzirov

An Interview with Nikola Madzirov

The translator is a silent deconstructor, a night guard of the bridges of difference and understanding.   Nikola Madzirov (poet, essayist, translator) was born into a family of Balkan Wars refugees in 1973 in Strumica, Macedonia.

The Poet's Garden, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Beautiful Impediment: A History of Guns in the Family by John Burgess

John Burgess’ second book of poems, A History of Guns in the Family, is an ambitious attempt to contain the experiences of an entire lifetime in a compact work of nine poetic sequences.

Paul Celan Revisited: Moving from Silence to Speech

Paul Celan Revisited: Moving from Silence to Speech

In his famous “Meridian” speech Celan confessed that poetry is ultimately “an eternalization of nothing but mortality, and in vain.” The contradictions between silence and speech, between human consciousness and death are present in his poem “Chanson of a Lady in the Shade.”   One of Celan’s earlier poems, “Chanson of a Lady in the Shade” (Mohn und Gedächtnis, 1952), […]

Noose and Hook by Lynn Emanuel

Noose and Hook by Lynn Emanuel

Noose and Hook itself is a tearing and mending of identity and verse. Both are the noose and the hook, suffocating readers and at the same time grabbing and snagging their attention. Lynn Emanuel is a poet who challenges the lyrical “I” to a word match. Philosophical inquiries, particularly the poet’s struggle with language’s deficiencies, are her strengths. Frances McCue […]

The Politics by Benjamin Paloff

The Politics by Benjamin Paloff

  The world of contemporary poetry is a little richer, and a little wiser, now that Paloff’s work is a part of it.   Benjamin Paloff’s first collection of poetry, The Politics, drinks from the same well famously tapped by the High Moderns, including T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce.  Specifically, Paloff holds to one of their primary tenets, […]

An Interview with Gabrielle Calvocoressi

An Interview with Gabrielle Calvocoressi

I’m interested in how the body reacts to the rug constantly being pulled out from under it.   Welcome, Gaby, to The California Journal of Poetics. Thank you for taking time out of your grueling schedule to share the world of your poetry with us.  You have a remarkable way of tapping into the lives and psyches of others. In […]

Nox by Anne Carson

Nox by Anne Carson

Although it will not provide a representative introduction to Carson’s work for those who haven’t read her before, fans will love Nox for its honesty, occasional brilliance, and physical beauty.   Anne Carson’s Nox is a high quality, full color reproduction of a scroll dozens of feet long, to which the author glued and taped all the elements that compose the […]

How to Speak American: Heather McHugh’s “Language Lesson 1976”

How to Speak American: Heather McHugh’s “Language Lesson 1976”

This is an analysis of Heather McHugh’s poem, “Language Lesson 1976.” You can read the entire poem here, at Under the Umbrella.   “Language Lesson 1976” examines the peculiarity of common American expressions and parlays that examination into a personal statement about love, relationships, and American life and culture in the 200th year of the United States. McHugh’s study of […]

Carrying the Songs by Moya Cannon

Carrying the Songs by Moya Cannon

Moya Cannon’s latest collection, Carrying the Songs, features stunning new poems along with selected poems from her previous collections, Oar and The Parchment Boat.   Cannon’s title poem begins with the lines: “It was always those with little else to carry / who carried the songs.”  Her insights into the deep human need for music are deft and evocative. Music […]

Zephyr by Susan Browne

Zephyr by Susan Browne

What does it mean to write poems about love, mortality, and sadness in the beginning of the 21st Century? How does a poet go about tackling such dead horses in ways that make them wildly hysterical, unbearably familiar, and jaw-droppingly outrageous? Susan Browne’s prize-winning second collection Zephyr slaps the dead horses to life and rides them through the fairytale land […]

Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is a poet who delights readers with her keen view of the world, which is often influenced by her insatiable wonder and her travels; this year, she gives us the gift of a beautiful third book, Lucky Fish. The book is her invitation for readers to join her in a sensual experience of the world and all its […]


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