Reviews

Getting to know nothing

A review of Peter Gizzi's 'In Defense of Nothing'

Photo of Peter Gizzi by Robert Seydel.

Book by book, Peter Gizzi has made propulsive advances in style and range. Poems sprawl longer, blaze forth brighter in rich fluidities of argument, bare riddling surfaces of ever-more-intricate logic and sound, and all the while offer readers fuller, faster, more enterable poetic experiences. Meanwhile, the gradual emergence of an authorial alter-ego in these poems — an obdurate speaker grounded in quotidian observation, prone to political outbursts, romantic — this signature persona becomes, for the reader, a companionable figure. 

Book by book, Peter Gizzi has made propulsive advances in style and range. Poems sprawl longer, blaze forth brighter in rich fluidities of argument, bare riddling surfaces of ever-more-intricate logic and sound, and all the while offer readers fuller, faster, more enterable poetic experiences.

A field of the invisible

A review of Christina Olivares's 'No Map of the Earth Includes Stars'

Images courtesy of Marsh Hawk Press and Christina Olivares.

“Burnt Code,” the opening poem of Christina Olivares’s debut collection, No Map of the Earth Includes Stars, startles in the intimacy of its address: “You devote years to / listening to, interpreting, misinterpreting code.”[1] Here, Olivares’s speaker addresses her father, who is losing himself to schizophrenia. In a long series of poems in the book’s first section, “Petition,” her speaker imparts her memories, recent and long past, and those of her father, to whom the poems adhere in ways he cannot adhere to his own life.

'alchemy's new materials'

A review of Jamie Townsend's 'Shade'

Photo of Jamie Townsend (right) by Ivy Johnson.

Jamie Townsend’s debut collection of poetry, Shade, continuously turns for us a promise of utopia that is as perpetually deferred as it is exhausted. Much like a mixtape or a news ticker’s scrolling forecast of weather and stocks, Shade traverses contiguous anxieties about what capitalism renders immaterial and how optimism becomes militarized, with Townsend trailing who (or what) follows us from the streets into our throats, from our dreams into the law.

The visions and worlds of Hagiwara Sakutaro

Photo of Hagiwara Sakutaro (right) from Wikimedia Commons.

You may smash a fly but the fly’s “thing in itself” will not die. You’d simply have smashed the phenomenon called the fly. — Schopenhauer

So says the epigraph to Hagiwara Sakutaro’s “roman in the style of a prose poem,” Cat Town (1935) — in the eponymous volume which also includes his collections Howling at the Moon (1917) and Blue Cat (1923), as well as a selection of other poems.

'silence isn't always a trick'

Thomas Devaney's 'Calamity Jane'

Photo of Thomas Devaney (right) by David Kelley.

Thomas Devaney’s dedication for Calamity Jane, “A Solo Opera for Jeanine Oleson,” situates Calamity Jane — famous as a gunslinger, sidekick of Wild Bill Hickok, and heroine of dozens of dime novels[1] — more overtly in the realm of dramatic performance than in the realm of Western myth.