Rob Stanton

Able and vexed

A review of Michael Gottlieb's 'What We Do'

This work on work, about work — the work poets do, the work they ought to do, the work they have to do on top of/instead of their “real” work — is by turns frustrating and frustrated.

                                         Poets
leap over death — was that COLERIDGE? If so,
did anyone see him do it and live?[1]

Attention paid

R. F. Langley

The forty-eight poems collected in this volume are the sum total completed by R. F. Langley during his seventy-two-year lifespan, but they contain an outsize vibrancy that intensifies on rereading. They are not well known on this side of the Atlantic, but hopefully this book will start to change that. Their range is not wide — indeed, it is consciously circumscribed (recurring subjects include insects and arachnids, Italian Renaissance art, the Suffolk countryside, church interiors, looking, and writing about looking) — but the attention and thinking they condense is considerable.

'We want to live on it'

A review of 'We Used to Be Generals'

Sarah Campbell’s poems are funny, but so what? There’s no shortage of funny contemporary American poems. In fact, one could argue that a particular strain of humor has been the default setting for much American poetry, be it mainstream or avant-garde, since the poets of the New York School, tutored on Auden, shook off some of the high seriousness of Modernism mid-century. True wit is something else again and, while often funny, is not automatically so. If irony is still, despite counter-efforts, the spirit of the age, poetry of wit stands in an ironic relationship to it.

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