The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews

Obedience

Chris Vitiello

Taken from a conceptual poetry standpoint, Chris Vitiello’s newest book Obedience, out from Ahsahta press, offers a strongly humanist rejoinder to the institutional dominance of uncreative writing. Conceived of as one long project in statements that ask to be read a variety of ways, Vitiello’s…

William Carlos Williams Part III

Spring and All

At the spur off 71 to 271 up to Erie there’s an old billboard sort of faded for something called Ashbury Estates, with a U, but still. So, thought experiment. What would modern poetry look like without William Carlos Williams. Let’s just put our thumb…

William Carlos Williams Part II

Spring and All

There ought to be a terminology for writing that describes without making the scene intelligible to the reader. It’s not that Williams decontextualizes it, he just talks about the experience of it. He doesn’t say, “Here I am at…” That’s a depletion of energy. The…

William Carlos Williams Part I

Spring and All

Editor’s Note: The following text, written mostly via dictation on Routes 84, 80, 76, 71 and 70 as they carve through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio, responds to the New Directions 2011 facsimile edition of William Carlos Williams’ 1923 Spring and All and “Something Urgent I…

Motes

Craig Dworkin

Motes is a perfect little book of poetry. “Little” book, not by way of diminution, but as large praise, for Dworkin’s work here is of a piece, and each small piece is prism-pure in its exactitude. And exactitude, as is its way, is a matter…

Threshold Songs

Peter Gizzi

One of the great pleasures of editing the Constant Critic is that my fellow critics consistently bother me with what they say in their reviews—providing the good kind of discomfort that causes me to revisit, revise, abandon, or sometimes (admittedly) re-entrench some of my previously…

Open Winter

Rae Gouirand

It’s easy to be silent; it’s hard to be quiet. If you want the former, just don’t say anything. But if you want the latter, you will have to figure out how to control for how we register sound. It isn’t simply a matter of…

(made)

Cara Benson

“the locus of agency is always an assemblage” —Jane Bennett It’s been 468 years since the publication of Copernicus’s On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres, and just over 400 years since Galileo first observed that Jupiter had its own moons. These two discoveries not…

Whorled

Ed Bok Lee

Allegedly, the earliest forms of writing were actuarial: lists, of inventory, accounts, transactions, rules, laws. If so, the lists should be as familiar to us as any form of text could be. And they are, of course, but that doesn’t prohibit them from being strange…

Some Math

Bill Luoma

There were a few years in the mid-nineties when it looked like the poets gathering in New York might fuse a thousand disparate styles and beliefs and wishes into a single beam of classical beauty, rude comedy and what can only be called zen clarity…