The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews

Things To Do With Your Mouth

Divya Victor

Recently released by Les Figues press, Divya Victor’s Things To Do With Your Mouth examines hysteria and psychoanalytic theory, exploring how bodies are fragmented, dismembered, and silenced when they enter the symbolic order. Victor’s appropriations, permutations, and repetitions serve to explode the basis by which…

The Self Unstable

Elisa Gabbert

Although The Self Unstable is her third book, Elisa Gabbert’s dominant mode of publication is the tweet, of which she is queen. As of circa right this moment, she has composed almost 45,000 of them, and, happily, she knows no sign of stopping or slowing…

Orange Roses

Lucy Ives

I started reading Lucy Ives’s Orange Roses in the local library; I enjoyed the architecture of the building, the clerestory, but the screaming children did me in. As I walked out, I thought about the modernist ambitions of the library, a concrete brutalist bunker with…

Transfer of Qualities

Martha Ronk

I find myself wanting to tell you contradictory things about Martha Ronk’s Transfer of Qualities. Not because I am of mixed-mind about the book, but because, upon dwelling, contradictory forces show themselves to drive the work, unleashing its power. This might give you the impression…

Seascape

Heimrad Bäcker

Translation by Patrick Greaney Afterword by Charles Bernstein Have you ever killed anyone? This was the question a journalist recently reported asking a convicted serial killer. Not to drag biography into it, but criminal lawyers know better than to ask such stupid questions. For, not…

Hymn for the Black Terrific

Kiki Petrosino

Hymn for the Black Terrific is three tiny books bound together. The first section, “Oiseau Rebelle,” is as close as Petrosino comes to a miscellany, in that its poems don’t bear an obvious relationship to each other; the second section, “Mulattress,” is a ten-poem showcase…

Damnation

Janice Lee

A mysterious package containing a strange Bible is delivered to a village and brings with it an immense sense of wretched misery and despair. A pair of exhausted lovers continuously—agonizingly—falls out of love. A young girl is abused by careless, angry elders and the butcher…

Hello, the Roses

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

As a term, Empathy, from the Greek em-pathos, in-feeling, is the translation that Edward Titchener, a psychologist working at the turn of the nineteenth century, gave to the German Einfühlung—sympathetic understanding, or, literally, feeling into another’s subject-position. Since the late 18th century the concept has…

Liner Notes

Andy Mister

The name on my favorite chapbook of 2007, Hotels, is Andrew Mister. For his first full-length collection, Liner Notes, 165 brief paragraphs about music and suicide, Mister has chosen to shorten his name to sound more like another visual artist who wrote a little. I…

Young Tambling

Kate Greenstreet

In lieu of blurbs, the back cover of Young Tambling simply reads Based on a true story. Thanks to the quality of the design, this humble claim is both comic and sort of sublime. It’s comic, of course, because being based on a true story…

The Invention of Glass

Emmanuel Hocquard (Translated by Cole Swensen and Rod Smith)

The Invention of Glass. To begin with titles and what does a title propose: Thanks to volcanoes, lightning, and meteorites, glass has always existed in nature, but like many of our oldest technologies that we daily take for granted, glass-as-human-invention has a mysterious and un-namable…

What Makes Us

Seven American Deaths and Disasters Kenneth Goldsmith powerHouse Books, 2013 Manchester: August 16th & 17th 1819 John Seed Intercapillary Editions, 2013 As Marjorie Perloff has repeatedly noted, much of contemporary lyric poetry is prose by another name—there is nothing beyond lineation that commends it to…