Reviews

The Promise of Ghosts

The Promise of Ghosts:A Review of Dan O'Brien's War Reporter by Ruben Quesada & Brian Kornell

I have been haunted and now so will you. Out of this threat of ghosts, Dan O’Brien creates a new mythology in War Reporter. In this collection of poems, he explores the experience of loss shared between fictionalized versions of himself and Paul Watson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. As the reader observes their struggle through loss, she becomes a silent […]

The Folding Star and Other Poems by Jacek Gutorow Translated with an Introduction by Piotr Florczyk

The Folding Star and Other Poems by Jacek Gutorow, trans. Piotr Florczyk

If we define translation as “to change from one place, state, or form to another,” there is no question that the translator is also an alchemist. Here in Jacek Gutorow’s The Folding Star and Other Poems, translated by Piotr Florczyk, the author and translator have worked together to create the best possible translations from Polish to English—in some instances, altering […]

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 […]

“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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

D. A. Powell’s Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys

D. A. Powell’s Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys

The reader feels like a delighted child, listening to a filthy nursery rhyme written by a master of the English language . . .   In his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein made it clear that his goal was not to provide a practical guide through philosophy, but rather to “travel over a wide field of thought criss-cross in every direction.” In […]

Artwork by Bianca Stone

Anne Carson’s Tragedy-in-Translation: Antigonick

There are things other than red string that might disorient the reader of Antigonick. The Meta-textual introduction of Eurydice, for example . . . Anne Carson’s Antigonick* is a colorful riff on Sophocles’ Antigone, and the poet’s fourth book of tragedy-in-translation.  If we separate the elements that make the book uniquely Carson, we don’t find much that she hasn’t done before. […]

Please by Jericho Brown

Please by Jericho Brown

What can a poet teach us about using music to discover new approaches to popular culture, family, racial and sexual identity? Jericho Brown’s debut volume, Please, explores musical themes, variations, and contemporary musicians, including personas such as Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, and Marvin Gaye. Many poems are explicitly about music—the persona poems, certainly, and also a series of poems with […]

Music for the Black Room by Sarah Maclay

Music for the Black Room by Sarah Maclay

In Sarah Maclay’s third collection of poems, Music for the Black Room, humans attempt to conquer the natural world, but out of this desire for dominance, a synthesis of nature and civilization emerges, forming at times a surreal and dreamlike landscape. Quite possibly there is no place on Earth more suited to surreality and dreamy escapism than southern California, specifically […]


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