Poetry

  • Nox

    Anne Carson

    I wanted to fill my elegy with light of all kinds. But death makes us stingy.

    Back when I was making a concerted effort to read more poetry, I enjoyed a few of Anne Carson’s books. I haven’t been spending much time in bookstores, or reading for that matter. But recently forces converged, and I noticed this boxed accordion-style book one place and was intrigued, then happened to finally check out McNally Jackson Books the same week Anne Carson was scheduled to read there.

    There’s a part in this article about owner Sarah McNally where she talks about uninspired author readings, so it’s not surprising that this event was not just a straight-up reading, but included a discussion on how...more

  • The Best 10 Minutes of Your Life

    Zoe Whittall

    Thanksgiving in Dundas
    Hitching the Hamilton highway
    styrofoam hot chocolate
    from a steeltown diner
    waiting, the most precise
    measurement of patience

    more
  • Sad Little Breathing Machine

    Matthea Harvey

    For whatever reason, this collection didn’t strike me as much as Modern Life did. But there were poems I liked.

    The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away

    Everyone was happier. But where did the sadness go? People wanted to know. They didn’t want it collecting in their elbows or knees then popping up later. The girl who thought of the ponies made a lot of money. Now a month’s supply of pills came in a hard blue case with a handle. You opened it & found the usual vial plus six tiny ponies of assorted shapes & sizes, softly breathing in the Styrofoam. Often they had to be pried out & would wobble a little when first

    ...more
  • Averno

    Louise Glück

    I remembered reading Louise Glück before but I didn’t go back and refresh my memory on what I said about The Seven Ages until after I read this book. I think I have to deduce that I’m not that into her poetry as I could almost say the exact thing this time around.

    The title refers to the lake in Naples, Italy regarded by the ancient Romans as the entrance to the underworld, so the poems are largely about the areas between death and life with many winter themes. Interesting and not unlikeable but underwhelming for me.more

  • Modern Life

    Matthea Harvey

    There are many interesting takes on “modern” life in this collection of poems. From the kind of anachronistically futurist Robo-Boy placed in a banal contemporary setting to the militarily apocalyptic series that maps words found between future and terror in the dictionary. The two semi-abecedarian series ascend the alphabet in one and descend in the other but maintain the same sense of desolation.

    The Future of Terror / 11

    From the gable window, we shot
    at what was left: gargoyles and garden gnomes.
    I accidentally shot the generator
    which would have been hard to gloss over
    in a report except we weren’t writing reports
    anymore. We ate our gruel and watched
    the hail

    ...more
  • Collected Poems

    Paul Auster

    Reading this book on the subway was probably not the best approach, but I managed to struggle through it. Auster’s earlier poems have some overwrought tendencies, but in a way all of his poems fit together as a larger work, making this collected volume very useful. He’s attached to images of stones and whiteness and snow among other things, and many common images are threaded across his work. He has a tendency towards oxymoronic lines and a knack for good poetic punchlines, endings that could almost sit on their own:

    We dream
    that we do not dream. We wake
    in the hours of sleep
    and sleep through the silence
    that stands over us. Summer
    keeps

    ...more
  • Sixty Odd

    Ursula K. Le Guin

    I took out a bunch of poetry books and maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this one, or maybe I’m not into Le Guin’s poetic “wryness.” I suppose she is better known for her fantasy and sci-fi fiction.more

  • Kissing God Goodbye

    June Jordan

    The mix of personal and political poems felt a little awkward at times, but I like her down-to-earth style.

    POEM AFTER RECEIVING VOICEMAIL FROM YOU AFTER (I DON’T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE) HOW LONG!

    Your voice and the weighted
    stammering between us
    evident
    and the train of my routine
    adjustment to nothing anywhere
    as unforgettable
    as your bare feet on the flagstone
    pathway
    next to bunched up honeysuckle
    blooming aromatic in the a. m.
    of a daily life
    we shared but never dared
    to lock and key
    into
    our problematic/
    intersection—

    ...more
  • Miracle Fruit

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil

    Poetry can be pretty good reading for subway reading as it often is comprised of shorter pieces that you’re more likely to reach an even stopping point when you reach your destination. But I’m kind of out of practice in reading verse these days. The beginning of this book felt so prose-like and conversational, but by the end things flowed more. I can’t really tell if that was the book or just me getting used to it. I didn’t really feel any thematic connections in the first two sections (“Slice” and “Juice”), but the last section “Flesh” came together for me more. Again, it might have just been me.

    I think this is one of my favorites:

    Small Murders

    When Cleopatra received

    ...more
  • Poems for Architects

    Jill Stoner

    The best parts of this anthology are the overlays of drawings that interpret the certain poems’ structures. Being that Stoner chose the poems based on her own collection, it’s not necessarily a comprehensive look at poetry that tackles themes of space, like domesticity, urbanism, and form. But it is an interesting concept — how poetry can influence architecture.

    I really like this line from Thedore Roethke’s villanelle “The Waking”: “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

    I was a little dubious of the usage of Futura Light as the typeface, but by the end was swayed that it’s a really good choice for the book. Usually sans-serif faces are harder to read, but the thin forms actually felt more legible...more

Pages