The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews

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…

Playtime

William Fuller

It is not a habit I would endorse, but sometimes I read poems as if they were records of actual proceedings, events provoked by circumstances other than those the poet occasioned simply for the sake of writing a poem. In other words, I choose to…

The Great Medieval Yellows

Emily Wilson

The contemporary moment of critique manifests, among other ways, in a pressing call for artwork that overtly raises consciousness of the racism, classism, sexism, and environment-gutting anthropocentrism permeating our culture. Answering this call, many poetic projects such as Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal…

Ban en Banlieue

Bhanu Kapil

Trying to offer a clear critical comment on Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en Banlieue is particularly challenging because it so stridently seeks to side-step the rational, hierarchical, closed-system imaginations which generate race riots, which churn women’s bodies into sexual fodder and carcasses tossed out of vans,…

Model City

Donna Stonecipher

The experience of reading Donna Stonecipher’s Model City is to be incrementally encompassed by a world built from repeated structures and phrases, a world that fosters our own growing attentiveness as the poet responds to the urban world. The phrase that opens the book and…

Citizen: An American Lyric

Claudia Rankine

Therapy is exhausting. Bringing everything that is uppermost out for someone you pay to respond makes you doubly vulnerable — you relive traumas instead of repressing them, and you rely on a guide for empathy and reason as they support your attempt to make sense…

Performative Criticism and Against Conceptual Poetry

Ron Silliman

I recently participated in a panel discussion on the topic of performative criticism at REVERSE, the Copenhagen International Poetry Festival held at their LiteraturHaus. My co-panelists were Danish-Norwegian critic Susanne Christensen, Swedish critic and poet Magnus William-Olsson, and Danish writer Kamilla Löftström. The conversation was…

Life in a Box is a Pretty Life

Dawn Lundy Martin

In Dawn Lundy Martin’s challenging, evocative, necessary new book Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books), she offers smart, frank, actual living thought that seeks to destabilize and illustrate some of the ways that black female subjectivity continues to be framed by…

the L notebook

Sabine Macher

As temperatures hover in the upper 80s, summertime’s fantasy of ease takes over, gives rise to a self that, in lieu of work, throws on flip-flops and a swimsuit and heads to the pool. This summerself, only partly satisfied by hours under the shade of…