Jordan Davis

With Deer

Aase Berg, tr. Johannes Gorannson

I tend to prefer poetry when it holds its head up, taking in the world and responding, alert to beauty and change and able to talk about it in a more or less recognizably adult way. Since almost everything in the universe conspires against these…

Interpretive Work

Elizabeth Bradfield

Beyond the unfamiliar word and the statistically-improbable phrase, sonorous line and shapely stanza, endearing argument, compelling personality and all the other ideology-soggy but nevertheless real markers of competence, there is another order of pleasures of poetry: Taking stock of the writer’s project, how they understand…

Lane Changes

David Lawrence

You can read David Lawrence’s Lane Changes through in half an hour, starting with the remarkable content of the flat first lines, “I remember getting hit so hard in the head / That the gray canvas turned into / An albino snowstorm,” or instead working…

Totem

Gregory Pardlo

The movies that illustrate the great soundtracks — Fame, Footloose, Flashdance, Car Wash — put the audience’s feelings on a slow forward-moving track, get them wet, soap them up, hose the undercarriage, and blow hot air on them. No offense to anyone who’s seen them…

Floating City

Anne Pierson Wiese

People of the book once lived in New York. There was, in the words of Bernard Black, a whole revolting cycle of buying books and reading them and selling them and buying again; apartments with foyers, entryways, livingrooms, linenclosets, bedrooms, the kitchen even the bathroom…

Earthquake

Susan Barnes

I don’t ask a lot from fiction — just make every word in every sentence count. And please no fuss about backstory, at least no more than what’s going on in the front of the store. Susan Barnes’s debut goes 18 pages — more than…

The Persistence of Objects

Richard Garcia

It’s off the mark to refer to any branch of American poetry as surreal. If you know where in the 811 to look there’s tons of anti-rational, drug-using, sex-narrating, language-deranging literature to be had. Dreams are big business in poetryland. They turn up in every…

The Mountain in the Sea

Victor Hernandez Cruz

Victor Hernandez Cruz’s work is marked throughout by brilliant perception and phrasings, often bordering on the visionary. There are more and more poets capable of pleasing combinations like “perpendicular reptiles” but how many who notice a musician carrying a “load of viands / Toward civilization”?…