Kenna O’Rourke reviews three poetry collections from the past two years: Proof Something Happened by Tony Trigilio, Spooks by Stella Wong, and Palm-Lined with Potience by Basie Allen. About Palm-Lined with Patience: Small round symbols and sweeping dotted lines appear throughout Basie Allen’s debut collection, tracing out palm readings or perhaps just guiding the eye to the poems’ juiciest inscrutable moments. Allen indicates that some pages should be torn out or flipped to be read fully, mirroring an activist’s disruption tactics: “I am not ashamed of inconvenience / and I promise to ruin everything,” he writes in one of several poems condemning NYC gentrifiers’ destruction of neighborhoods.
Reviews editor Orchid Tierney returns with capsule reviews of Bamboophobia by Ko Ko Thett, Air Raid by Polina Barskova, and Togetherness by Wo Chan. From the Ko Ko Thett review: “The collection includes thirteen poems Ko Ko Thett had written and translated himself from the Burmese, but arguably this is entirely a work of translation. The poet compellingly demonstrates the fuzziness of language to convey its atmospheric social and political nuances: ‘Come morning, we say, “Have you eaten?” to / celebrate the day, for we are still here.’”
Reviews editor Orchid Tierney returns with capsule reviews of Bamboophobia by Ko Ko Thett, Air Raid by Polina Barskova, and Togetherness by Wo Chan.
Editorial assistant Kendall Owens reviews three strange, experimental poetry titles in this set of capsule reviews: Medusa Beach and Other Poems by Melissa Monroe, Daybreak by William Fuller, and Cosmic Diaspora by Jake Marmer. On Marmer’s book, Kendall writes: Reading Cosmic Diaspora is reading music, as it takes on all of the qualities of improvisational jazz found in its accompanying album, Purple Tentacles of Thought and Desire. Speaking from experience as an immigrant from “the outskirts of the universe — provincial Ukrainian steppes,” Marmer describes how immigrants are stripped of their culture and molded into less “alien” beings: “they lawyered me out of my alien appearance / though couldn’t fix the accent.”
Editorial assistant Quinn Gruber reviews three multitudinous poetry titles: Ringing the Changes by Stephanie Strickland; Repetition Nineteen by Monica de la Torre; and Illusory Borders by Heidi Reszies. Of Strickland's book, Quinn writes: Ringing the Changes sounds through the highly precise patterns of English bell ringing, producing a “work that transgresses the boundary between thought as act and thought as content.” A series of twenty-three “bells” of text resonate in “many different interlocking dimensions” of climate change, racial justice, art, and performance; in the unique changes, “each of these pocket universes of social and economic reality has its own structure and forms, its own space and geometry.” In the overwhelming crises of the present, Strickland reminds us what the body can do: “It can reach out. It can look up.”
Editorial assistant Kelly Liu reviews three 2020 titles from Wesleyan University Press, each touching on memory and loss: Now It’s Dark by Peter Gizzi, Un-American by Hafizah Geter, and A Forest of Names by Ian Boyden. Of Gizzi's book, Kelly writes: Now It’s Dark begins with a dedication: “for my brother Tom // also gone.” In the face of unrelenting, constantly encroaching threat of mortality, Gizzi pens a collection of poetry that mourns those who passed and those who will continue to. In a dark world inhabited by ghosts, simultaneously aftermath and augury, Gizzi wades through physicality with an acute sense of its already-absence. Perhaps its most haunting line, “Say what’s a grammar when you is no longer you,” questions the limits of language: how can language work when the object of reference no longer exists materially, when the ‘you’ who was once alive and breathing becomes the abstract ‘you’ left behind in thought? As it seeks to preserve some semblance of life, to write the phenomenological world into the world of poetry, Gizzi’s work is a continuous attempt to inscribe: “I want to tell you this isn’t just all song. // I want to say this scrap of paper had sky in it.”
Orchid Tierney reviews three titles that engage with Anthropocene landscapes: Edgeland and other poems by David Eggleton; Habitat Threshold by Craig Santos Perez; and Mezzaluna: Selected Poems by Michele Leggott.
Editorial assistant Gabriela Portillo Alvarado makes their capsule reviews debut with writing on three poetry titles featuring love, resistance, and truth: Valuing by Christopher Kondrich, Are the Rivers in Your Poems Real by Moez Surani, and dayliGht by Roya Marsh.
Kenna O’Rourke takes another look at three 2018 poetry titles: Clap for Me That’s Not Me by Paola Capó-García, Baby, I Don’t Care by Chelsey Minnis, and Don’t Let Them See Me Like This by Jasmine Gibson.
Kenna O’Rourke takes another look at three 2018 poetry titles.