The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews

Violet Energy Ingots

Hoa Nguyen

Opening transcendent portals outside of culture and time through which the divine might speak, the oracle of antiquity was called upon for advice on urgent matters ranging from the public sphere of politics, war, crime, and duty to the private realm of personal concerns. Delivering…

Correspondences

Nisha Ramayya

“Tantra is marked by its difficulty,” Nisha Ramayya states in the opening “Notes on Tantra” section of Correspondences, a twenty-six page pamphlet of poetry, micro-essays, notes, and images. The principle structure of the book follows tantra’s ritual structure: divided into ten sections, with two additional…

Trouble the Water

Derrick Austin

I’m fascinated by the adjective inhuman. Applied to non-human subjects, it is redundant; applied to human ones, it is false by definition. It’s the tautology of how a thing is never more or less than itself that guarantees the falsehood. Nothing that is human can…

Archeophonics

Peter Gizzi

The poems in Peter Gizzi’s most recent book, Archeophonics, operate as an homage to sounds as in the title poem that celebrates echoes, repetitions, and other poems, “the archive in the mouth”: I’m saying this and it’s saying me That’s how it works, seesaw like…

The Most Foreign Country

Alejandra Pizarnik

In early 2017 Ugly Duckling Presse will release for the first time in English Alejandra Pizarnik’s debut collection, The Most Foreign Country, translated by Yvette Siegert. First published in 1955 when Pizarnik was 19, she was later to renounce the book, which remained all but…

A Small Story About the Sky

Alberto Ríos

I cannot remember now where I first heard it or from whom, but as a dismissal of poets and poetry it made an impression: a poet is someone who sees a bird outside their window and makes a big goddamned deal out of it. The…

Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt

Matvei Yankelevich

Like the astronomer, Dr. Steven Vogt, who, from the spectrometer on the Keck Observatory in Hawaii searches for extrasolar planets, in Matvei Yankelevich’s latest collection the poet becomes a seeker—the occupation of both proving on-going, probing, inconclusive, revelatory. Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt also suggests…

A Timeshare

Margaret Ross

My favorite thought experiment, run by analytic philosophers, is called “The Brain in a Vat Argument.” Imagine that instead of being the living, breathing body that you think you are, you are actually just a brain in a vat in a lab hooked up to…

Garments Against Women

Anne Boyer

It’s hard to figure out exactly how to praise Anne Boyer, not because she doesn’t leave copious evidence of brilliance, diligence, wit, and ethical rigor, but because I can think of no poet who has less interest in or greater distrust of the ideas of…

Lazy Suzie

Suzanne Doppelt (trans. Cole Swensen)

Lazy Suzie is an ecstatic, often surreal exploration of the eye’s ability to turn about, to travel out the window, into a painting, through the telescope, over the hills, through the images of a magic lantern or camera obsura, and off mirrors. Not only the…

A Swarm of Bees in High Court

Tonya M. Foster

“black performance has always been the ongoing improvisation of a kind of lyricism of the surplus-, rupture, collision, augmentation.” —Fred Moten, In the Break A long nocturne, Tonya Foster’s long-awaited debut collection A Swarm of Bees in High Court roves in and out of the…