The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews


Monica Youn

Fate considered as represented by the eyebrow of Ignatz Mouse Cruel fate, kind fate, indifferent fate. Cruel can’t be right, can it? The cruel have their reasons, however selfish or misguided they may be. Kindness is a shield held in defense of those fate ill-fortunes;…

A Village Life

Louise Glück

Louise Glück’s poems are really good at feeling bad. In “Retreating Figure,” the best poem in her Pulitzer-winning collection The Wild Iris, Glück imagines what God might say about His absence. Her best known poem remains “Mock Orange,” a one-page lyric in which she says…


Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg, Editors

Gurlesque is an anthology of contemporary poetry by women that subverts cultural concepts of heteronormative sexuality. Arielle Greenberg and Lara Glenum, the collection’s editors, maintain that the anthology rose out of an observation of growing tendencies toward certain representations of the female body and female…

R’s Boat

Lisa Robertson

Michel de Certeau dedicates his multi-disciplinary work of theory, The Practice of Everyday Life, to “the ordinary man. The common hero, an ubiquitous character, walking in countless thousands on the streets”—and then launches into an assessment of the place and circumstances of everyday man’s everyday…

Extemporalis on the New Masculinist Lyric: In which will be discussed Douglas Kearney’s The Black Automaton (Fence 2009), James Wagner’s Geisttraum (Esther Press 2010), and Steven Zultanski’s Pad (Make Now Press 2010).

For what feels like some time, I have been saying things in passing and in private about “the new masculinist lyric.” Things about form and content, things said, like so many other passing and private things, as if the thing of which other things may…


Maggie Nelson

In German, to be blue&#8212blau sein&#8212means to be drunk. Delerium tremens used to be called the “blue devils” (Burns, 1787.) In England “the blue hour” is happy hour at the pub. Joan Mitchell&#8212abstract painter of the first order, American expatriate living on Monet’s property in…


Liz Waldner

Can the dialectic between poetry and philosophy resolve itself into some kind of Hegelian synthesis? It seems the efforts of Plato and Aristotle to cast a suspicious eye on the value of poetry, or to taxonomize it, was at least in part a reaction to…

Mean Free Path

Ben Lerner

The phrase “mean free path” belongs to the nomenclature of physics and designates the average distance covered by a particle or wave between successive impacts. Mean Free Path also names Ben Lerner’s third book of poetry just out from Copper Canyon Press. The transposition of…

Boris by the Sea

Matvei Yankelevich

Boris by the Sea wears its materiality on its sleeve. By materiality, I mean phenomenology. By phenomenology, I mean phenomenologies. For Boris, our Everyman Agonist, checks off phenomenology as typology, tripping through the architectural (“He said to his right foot, Build yourself. And it did.”);…

100 Notes on Violence

Julie Carr

77. Holding Hands I’ve been trying to look through the sun at something under the sun or within the sun (here are the sunny days: 280 a year!), been trying to measure the sun – taste the sun. But I cannot break into the sun….