Jordan Davis

Incidental Eclipse

Joseph Donahue

"I was in Dallas when Kennedy was shot," Joseph Donahue wrote, in a poem called “Seven” in his memorable debut, Before Creation, thus giving a characteristically radiant and weird answer to the generation-defining conversation starter. (Warren Burger’s ghost need not rise: the poem’s title indicates…


Fanny Howe

Poetry, for all its revelry in connotations, ambiguity, slippage, and nonsense, is nevertheless a magnet for certainty-seekers. Or doubters. Same thing. I have a "Fanny Howe’s great but nobody has explained why" speech: it starts out noting the distinction between poetry and prose having become…

The Sleep That Changed Everything

Lee Ann Brown

Reading American poetry after the death of Allen Ginsberg, it is possible to forget that writers have been known to transform the world from time to time. Not that younger poets have forgotten to put “reimagine life” on a to-do list—Lee Ann Brown even made…

Famous Americans

Loren Goodman

Disclosure: Loren Goodman’s time at Columbia coincided with mine. While I generally follow Publishers Weekly‘s lead in preferring not to talk about first books of poems, and given that my eyebrows arch automatically when I see other critics praise their friends, I would feel remiss…

Complete Fiction

Serge Fauchereau, tr. Ron Padgett and John Ashbery

A glass of papaya juice and back to work. My heart is in my pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy. — “A Step Away from Them,” Frank O’Hara One view of criticism is that, whatever its ostensible subject and purpose may be, its real…


Karen Volkman

I am ambivalent about Karen Volkman’s poetry. I’m aware, as I read her second book, Spar, of a continuous subliminal excitement, the kind I trust in some writers from Mallarme on to lead me somehow to an undeniable ineffable experience. I also get a sense…

The Soldiers of Year II

Medbh McGuckian

About halfway through her new American collection, Irish poet Medbh McGuckian invokes the navel of the dream, the constant Freud used in The Interpretation of Dreams to balance his equation of waking life and the irrational: I have had cloud ravenous upon me as the…

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