On Verse

The Lyric LangPo Alarm: Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout’s poetry is informed by two key sources: first, the radical poetics of 1960s San Francisco; second, the terse verse forms of William Carlos Williams, whose poetry she first…

Last Rhapsody at Marienbad

Ben Mazer, now in his forties, looks like a terribly serious man in his photographs. He wants us to take his poetry seriously too. He publishes rarely and gravely: the…

Birds, Not (John) Cages: on Dean Young’s Art of Recklessness

In his 170-page paean to reckless impulse, Dean Young spurns consistency, “over-thinking,” and all emphasis on craft, procedures, and technique. He casts out discipline and hard work, perfection and conventional…

Frivolous Flesh and Stoical Bone: Daryl Hine

For the last 10 or 20 years—until now—one needed to excavate the poet Daryl Hine in order to read him. Most of his work was out of print, almost forgotten,…

In the Familiar Ways: Ben Lerner’s Mean Free Path

“The reason the siren slides is because it doesn’t hit you,” said astronomer John Dobson. He was explaining the Doppler Effect, that phenomenon of physics every urban resident knows by…

No Room at the End (diptych): Henri Cole

A thirty-foot spider made of stainless steel perches outside of London’s Tate Modern Museum. Artist Louise Bourgeois’ sculpture Maman is grotesque and elegant, vulnerable and out of place on its long uneven…

Reading Gabriel Gudding

I. G.G. and the Humble Sublime Gabriel Gudding is an upstart crow, the only shake-scene in the country. The scene he shakes and bobbles is not merely the snow-globe of…

Running on Fumes: Jim Harrison’s In Search of Small Gods

A successful Orphic poetics often depends on the poet’s ability to arrest the reader’s critical faculties and to sustain that suspension across a traumatic arc. It is a high-romantic, if…

Diet Verse: John Ashbery’s Planisphere

“Readings” of John Ashbery’s poetry have been a contentious point in critical and scholarly circles for more than half a century. It is commonly held by acolytes and detractors alike…

The Transformation of Roses

It is tempting, as William H. Gass writes in Reading Rilke (Basic Books), to organize Rainer Maria Rilke’s life story around the several themes that obsessed and stalked him, particularly the image…

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