The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews

Coming After: Essays on Poetry

Alice Notley

When poets want to pick fights, they write essays. The essays Alice Notley collects in Coming After look mainly at the works, communities, and belief systems of her close associates (she is the widow of two of her subjects). Like Robert Creeley, whose compact, closely…

Coming After: Essays on Poetry

Alice Notley

There’s an interesting moment in the essay “American Poetic Music at the Moment,” one of several topical essays that comprise the latter half of Alice Notley’s Coming After: Essays on Poetry. In the context of her larger question of how “a girl can have a…

Coming After: Essays on Poetry

Alice Notley

“It should be the poet’s business to test, continuously, current assumptions, rather than assume them. I find being a poet something that must start again all the time[…].” —from “Thinking and Poetry” The above passage from Alice Notley’s Coming After: Essays on Poetry should come…

Profane Halo

Gillian Conoley

So Camille Paglia is irritated because poems aren’t exigent contraptions anymore and I have to say if I only knew the introduction to Fold Spindle Mutilate what did she call it? I’d have to think that is one good marketing plan, go out and tell…

The Return Message

Tessa Rumsey

Easier to damn than praise: that’s my complaint du jour, that insufficiency begets a surplus of critical analysis, and true achievement begets only silence. So Rumsey’s done it right, and there’s less for me to say about that fact than there would be had she…

Wedding Day

Dana Levin

What good is possessing the courage of your convictions if your convictions are deranged? I ask because Dana Levin’s Wedding Day takes an admirable approach to the question of confidence, and asks to what extent the poet requires certainty (about her subject, about poetry itself)…

Laws of My Nature

Margot Schilpp

If you enjoy revealing connections among phenomena not previously linked, you may want to consider a career in the sciences, detection, or making verses. If your m.o. when reading verse is to seek out a bombardment of shocks of insight, you want to know about…

Fourier Series

Josh Corey

Folded into an outsize, intricate engraving of a gorgeous (if bizarre) desert flower, Fourier Series is a lavish affair, a pleasure for the eye and the hand. The winner of the Fitzpatrick-O’Dinn Award for the Best Book Length Work of Constrained English Literature (!), the…

Dancing in Odessa

Ilya Kaminsky

One of the difficulties of reviewing is the unhappy balance between the urge to review a title as if the reviewer’s attention focused solely on the work at hand—one reader, one writer, a world complete—and the compulsion to directly address the context in which the…

Guess Can Gallop

Heidi Lynn Staples

From the incestual mingling of verse and perversity, spring the delightfully monstrous poems of Heidi Lynn Staple’s Guess Can Gallop. Here, the dictions and directives of the dominant paradigm are reshaped to admit their covert content of hostility, prurience, and slippery fun. The volume opens…

Interglacial: New and Selected Poems & Aphorisms

James Richardson

“I think therefore I think again.” (#93, “Vectors 2.0”) LaRochefoucauld, Joubert, Lichtenberg, O.V. Milosz, Nietzsche, and now Richardson: given the ease with which its very grammar persuades the reader that what was never said before has always been true, available, and satisfying, it’s odd how…