Rise up, Mrs. Oakley, you are not alone! Mary Ruefle exclaims at the end of County Fair, a sad yet comic poem about a woman who loses in all seven categories of a baked goods competition.
Here was a writer who absorbed and transcended aspects related to the most salient literary movements in European literature from the first half of the 20th century.
In 1936, the great Spanish poet Miguel Hernández wrote: I am tired of so much pure and minor art . . . I dont care for the puny voice that goes in ecstasy standing before a poplar, that fires off four little verses and believes that now everything has been done in poetry.
Theres nothing good about ill-timed death, Kathleen Ossip asserts in Oh, wow, mausoleums, the final poem in The Do-Over, the poets third book of poems. Nor about the death of love. That poetry glamorizes them disturbs me. Plainspoken and unsentimental, this passage typifies the tone and subject of Ossips newest collection, a bold procession of elegiac meditations and ode-like gestures that never hide behind gossamer veils of rhetoric to soften unforgiving truths.
Distinguished for both supple, vigorous movements of language and a restless, sometimes searing honesty, Klein’s style is unmistakably his own. Whether a compact verse poem or a longer-scale scene from one of his memoirs, his work vibrates with an almost devastating energy that is a natural extension of his physical presence.
Terese Svoboda is one of few contemporary American writers who possess a global consciousness. From 1987’s All Aberration to 2013’s Dogs are Not Cats, each of her six previous poetry collections captures what is claimed in the final sentence of “The Dead Dance” from Laughing Africa (1990).
Tony Leuzzi and Tod Marshall have never met, but their work has been in conversation since 2012, when Leuzzi finished Passwords Primeval,his book-length collection of interviews with contemporary poets. Marshall had worked on a similar project from 1991 2002; his book, Range of the Possible, explored the same genre: the meticulously researched literary interview.
When Bill Knott’s death at the age of seventy-four was reported on March 12, 2014, a number of friends, fans, and professional associates questioned the truth of the story.
In the James Kriegsmann, Jr. photograph that adorns the cover of Second Nature, Patricia Carlin’s new collection of poetry, a grafted orange tree laden with fruit rises from a square of dirt among cobblestones.
“That’s an awful lot of me,” Kevin Killian observed when I sent him proofs of the interview that follows this introduction—“Do we need it all?” On the surface, such candid self-effacement seems unlikely in a writer whose work is so searching and confident, but Killian’s apparent lack of ego may be connected to his fascination with makeshift art.
One of the most distinctive collections of verse published in the United States this year features the poems of a Danish cognitive scientist in translation. This is not a condemnation of the current state of American poetry, which is as rich and varied as it’s ever been, but an uninflated testament to the highly original work of Per Aage Brandt. Up to this point, Brandt has been largely unknown to readers of English-language poetry.
Writers of elegy are compelled to remember their dead, even when they can’t forget them. Therefore, the art’s best practitioners offset despair with a sense of affirmation.
Given our times, a cynic might be excused for assuming Something for Everybody, the title of Anselm Berrigans most recent book of verse, is an ironic indictment of well-intentioned yet over-simplified gestures towards equity and inclusion.
Rivards robust yet rueful poems may tilt towards elegy but the poet himself possesses a terrific sense of humor: this is punctuated by a winsome smile and utterly mischievous laugh.
The following discussion reveals that Satterlees venture into translation was shaped not by some lofty, lifelong ambition but circumstance and opportunity.
It has been thirty-three years since Bob Kaufman died semi-homeless of a pulmonary embolism. In America, the poet is often remembered for observing ten years of silence following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In France, upon the publication of his first, most-famous book, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness (1965), he was christened The Black Rimbaud.
Barnett insists Its not too late to fight back. / Calamity et al! / Get up, we love you! Thus a wake up rally cry is wryly supported by an allusion toof all thingsFrank OHaras Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!). Surely one of many reasons why Catherine Barnetts Human Hours packs such a powerful punch is that its creator has synthesized her sources without straining for effect. Barnett succeeds through understanding and sympathy.
“I want language to approximate the kind of conversation one might have some evening, talking about real things, serious things, but not feeling especially dire, and the talking is happening just as ones thinking about it, so that the thought and the expression of the thought are happening simultaneously.”
I was born into a world that no longer exists, Mary Ruefle told me as we sat down to lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant in Rochester, NY. Although referring to how entrenched electronic devices are in our daily lives, and how terribly sad it is that more and more people have never known what it feels like to be off the grid for a day, let alone a week, she appeared to be talking about more than iPads and Bluetooths.
May Day, the name of Gretchen Marquette’s debut collection of poetry, is richly ambiguous. On the basis of the title poem, and another called “Song for the Festival,” one might think the central metaphor of the book is a spring celebration commencing rebirth.
Some movies allow us to escape the otherwise inescapable realities of our lives. Others remind or inform us of experiences removed from our own. Still others provide a language and imagery that help articulate personal struggle. While all of these functions are evidenced in Donna Masinis resonant new collection 4:30 Movie, the last is most central to the poets conception.
In his redoubtable essay Tradition and the Individual Talent, T. S. Eliot wrote, No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. I wonder how Eliot might have assessed the work of David Lehman, a poet whose recently published New and Selected Poems demonstrates time and again that ones ongoing engagement with poets dead or alive need not mask personality or stifle innovation.
Sze is a dynamic writer whose vision and aesthetic evolve as he evolves. Although his poems are still built around vivid, often startling juxtapositions, the nature of those juxtapositions, as well as the intent behind them, has changed.
Some poets seize and refine a particular aesthetic until their procedures can take them no further. Others are more searching and allow specific projects or concepts to determine changes in their approach from book to book.
The first book I ever read by Timothy Liu was Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry (Talisman House, 2000).
How could I feel / what wasnt there? James Tolan writes as doubting Thomas in his two-part poem, Carravaggios Thomas. This confrontation with palpable absence is a recurrent theme in Mass of the Forgotten, Tolans first book of poems.
Tony Leuzzi is the author of Radiant Losses (New Sins Press, 2010) and The Burning Door (Tiger Bark Press 2014). In 2010, BOA Editions released Passwords Primeval, Leuzzi's interviews with 20 American Poets.
Tony Leuzzi’s books include Radiant Losses and The Burning Door, both collections of poems, and Passwords Primeval, a book of interviews with 20 American poets. His next book, Meditation Archipelago, will be published by Tiger Bark Press in early 2018.