Reviews

Paradise now

On Evan Kennedy's 'The Sissies'

Photo of Evan Kennedy (left) by Peter Hochschild.

An alien man-boy, Evan Kennedy. Already starting his poetic career with two pretty good books, then with a giant leap comes the third, Terra Firmament. Now another — this time a mega-leap on all fronts — a book he calls The Sissies.

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]

Why can't I touch it

On Chris Hosea's 'Double Zero'

Image at right courtesy of Chris Hosea.

“Don’t seek that all that comes about should come about as you wish, but wish that everything that comes about should come about just as it does, and then you’ll have a calm and happy life,” Epictetus advises in the epigraph to Chris Hosea’s second collection, Double Zero.

“Don’t seek that all that comes about should come about as you wish, but wish that everything that comes about should come about just as it does, and then you’ll have a calm and happy life,” Epictetus advises in the epigraph to Chris Hosea’s second collection, Double Zero.[1] The Stoic maxim is fitting for a collagist like Hosea, whose poetry seeks to capture and present everything stripped of an artificer’s will; the speaker of “Little Salt Book,” for example, remarks that it is “[d]isappointing that books are written by persons” (3

The shape of the vigil

Cassandra Cleghorn's 'Four Weathercocks'

Photo by Kevin Bubriski.

The shapes in “Macondo,” which open the first section of Cassandra Cleghorn’s first collection Four Weathercocks, are obscure and drenched in oil. As they wash onto shore “flayed and stifled,”[1] they are pushed and pulled by the tide, but never named. We are given wings, feathers, pouches, and “a black eye bright in a face of black sheen,” but never the species. Even their heartbeat goes undefined, appearing as a “small throb” pinned to the speaker’s lap. Meanwhile, “lost farmers” spread straw along the shoreline, trying to soak up the oil.

At the surface of days

A review of Rebecca Wolff's 'One Morning—'

One Morning— is a book about surfaces, about their complexity, inescapability, transience. Here, there may be no other art but the ekphrastic. In the famous Platonic scheme, where eternal forms are represented imperfectly in the world, nothing could be intellectually lower than ekphrasis. But maybe no other sort of knowledge exists. This is the suspicion of One Morning—, that there might be no other truth than the perception of surface, one surface indicating another, and the translation from one kind of surface into another kind: