Poetry

  • And Her Soul Out of Nothing

    Olena Kalytiak Davis

    undoubtedly my favorite book of poetry, though having read so little it probably means a little less than it could. though reading this, i hardly expect to find a complete work that will resonate with me as much as this. it’s calm and striking; her way of phrasing things perfectly and the sudden moments of stark understanding and images of sky and melancholy make this something to return to again and again.more

  • The Book of Questions

    Pablo Neruda

    it’s rather pleasing to read this all at once: 74 poems composed of couplets of questions (320 in all), most of which have no true answer. there are many repeating themes, like the moon and the seasons, especially autumn. some questions are more severe: What forced labor does Hitler do in hell?

    most seem more lighthearted, whimsical: But is it true that the vests are preparing to revolt?

    and thrown in are series of more philosophical questions:

    Will our life not be a tunnel between two vague clarities?

    Or will it not be a clarity
    between two dark triangles?

    Or will life not be a fish
    prepared to be a bird?

    Will death consist of nonbeing
    or of dangerous substances?

    In the end,

    ...more
  • Poems 4 a.m.

    Susan Minot

    oh, no. more rhyming poetry and about love too. at times this reminded me of marilyn hacker except that hacker has something that minot does not: certainty? only two poems were truly memorable to me (“Bulbs” and “Dawn in a Chilmark Barn”) and otherwise the themes of places and lovers seemed uninspired. maybe her voice isn’t concrete or dynamic enough. there’s nothing weighing her words down for me.

    the book does have a note on the type (monotype dante) though, and i love those.more

  • The Panther and the Lash

    Langston Hughes

    hmm. i don’t really have anything to say about this, except that i’m really not into rhyming poetry. sometimes i wonder if i’d like poetry better if it were read out loud.more

  • Those Who Ride the Night Winds

    Nikki Giovanni

    ellipses create a whole different kind of space and cadence… not to mention this uncertainty of what might have been left out. there are two sections in this: “night winds” focuses on various people who have tried to make change; “daytrippers” follows the path of love. there the liberal use of ellipses makes the verse even more hesitant and charged.more

  • Presentation Piece

    Marilyn Hacker

    for poetry from the early ’70s, it’s nice how undated this book feels (aside for”Elegy” written for Janis Joplin after her death). perhaps because the copy i read had an amazingly early ’70s cover design, i kept thinking about this.

    the perspectives make sense to me, and i like how the five sections are subtly distinct, like five eras of a larger period time collected together but still vaguely divided. there’s a poem called “Waiting” which i attached on to as it has a lot to do with mail and a more obvious bit of humor than the rest of the book while retaining this sense of melancholy. i’m such a sucker for mail themes and cynical jokes....more

  • Deepstep Come Shining

    C.D. Wright

    i’ve probably had this for about two years and only browsed through it a little. this was recommended to me by my old roommate addie, and she strongly suggested reading it at the height of summer. it might be good to save this for a hot month, heavy with wet air, as close to the picture of the deep south as one could get up here; but reading this now is a good escape from the post-blizzard (warmer but still cold and wet only in hug puddles on street corners). i may have to read this one repeatedly for years to start to feel out the repetitions of various phrases and concepts — juxtaposed and re-juxtaposed. a single long poem, a perspective...more

  • The Seven Ages

    Louise Glück

    read from cover to cover to prove myself wrong. i realize in reading this that i have little vocabulary to talk about poetry, maybe from having a limited background. it’s not that i disliked anything in this specifically, but it didn’t blow me away and i can’t articulate why. near the end suddenly i started noticing how rich the summer imagery was, but then it was perhaps a consummate vision of the season becoming focused throughout the whole book. “Unpainted Door” is maybe my favorite.more

  • Men in the Off Hours

    Anne Carson

    the first book of poetry i’ve tried to consume entirely in a short period of time, and it’s not straight-up poetry, so i may be cheating. this is full of brilliant spaces. the “Hopper: Confessions” series is perhaps my favorite. i have this doubt that i could set my mind to take in a volume of poetry cover to cover, in sequence, and i’m wondering if it’s possible.more

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