Reviews - September 2012

The freedom of restraint

A review of Devin Johnston's 'Traveler'

The title of Devin Johnston’s newest book of poems, Traveler, operates in several ways: The title poem, for example, is about a bird, specifically a “Blackburnian warbler,” that travels from “the foot of Cotopaxi / and across the Gulf” to the speaker’s yard, where he (the bird) “glances toward / [the speaker’s] lamplit stationary world / of smooth planes.” Such global mobility, of course, doesn’t belong strictly to migrating birds. It’s a restless race Johnston belongs to.

Songs and sonnets

A review of Peter Gizzi's 'Threshold Songs' and K. Silem Mohammad's 'Sonnagrams 1–20'

In their latest projects, poets Peter Gizzi and K. Silem Mohammad recycle and rework old forms, experimenting with what poetry can do in the present through engagements with the past. As they reinvent the traditional forms of sonnet and elegy, Gizzi and Mohammad put pressure on how contemporary poetry straddles poetic tradition and contemporary life. In his Sonnagrams 1–20, Mohammad uses Shakespeare’s sonnets to generate new anagram sonnets that pair Shakespeare and Flarf in a hilarious and fruitful duo.