The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews


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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Tao Lin

The problem with quality concepts is that their enactment is redundant. If the idea swings, then the execution don’t mean a thing – in fact, sometimes the practice of a good idea actually reduces the virtue of the idea itself. Thus, my problem with so-called conceptual…

Situations, Sings

Jack Collom and Lyn Hejinian

I’ve always thought Adventures in Poetry put out good books, and I’ve always thought it was a great name for a press. The new collaboration from Jack Collom and Lyn Hejinian (a collaboration that spans over fifteen years) makes it literal: Situations, Sings really is…

Floating City

Anne Pierson Wiese

People of the book once lived in New York. There was, in the words of Bernard Black, a whole revolting cycle of buying books and reading them and selling them and buying again; apartments with foyers, entryways, livingrooms, linenclosets, bedrooms, the kitchen even the bathroom…

Lilies Without

Laura Kasischke

Here are a few thing for which I don’t have much patience but indulge in nevertheless: 1. Psychology 2. What passes for “the domestic” in the contemporary imagination 3. Gerunds and participles 4. The word “it” The first instance of distaste leads neatly into the…

Earthquake

Susan Barnes

I don’t ask a lot from fiction — just make every word in every sentence count. And please no fuss about backstory, at least no more than what’s going on in the front of the store. Susan Barnes’s debut goes 18 pages — more than…

The Persistence of Objects

Richard Garcia

It’s off the mark to refer to any branch of American poetry as surreal. If you know where in the 811 to look there’s tons of anti-rational, drug-using, sex-narrating, language-deranging literature to be had. Dreams are big business in poetryland. They turn up in every…

Pink Noise

Hsia Yü

Pink Noise is a must-have one-off, a self-published, literally plastic, literally transparent volume turned out in hot pink and black ink by post-modern semi-expat Taiwanese poet Hsia Yü. Hsia Yü’s deadpan, nimble poetry is increasingly anthologized here in America, and may be consumed in large…

[one love affair]*

Jenny Boully

Love is clearly a mistake. I do not mean that to elect to love is an error in judgment, but rather that love itself requires participation in an unintelligible condition, one that gains access to its own properties by declaring that those properties cannot be…

Tonight’s the Night

Catherine Meng

With the figure of the fugue at its heart, Catherine Meng’s addicting, reiterative Tonight’s the Night explores art’s ability to arrest time and subsume both precedence and subsequence into its revisitable, expansive present tense. It’s a mighty debut and a neat bit of prestidigitation, too….

The Mountain in the Sea

Victor Hernandez Cruz

Victor Hernandez Cruz’s work is marked throughout by brilliant perception and phrasings, often bordering on the visionary. There are more and more poets capable of pleasing combinations like “perpendicular reptiles” but how many who notice a musician carrying a “load of viands / Toward civilization”?…

Incomplete Knowledge

Jeffrey Harrison

Whatever else you’re reading, whatever you’re doing besides looking at this review — stop. Stop and find Jeffrey Harrison’s new book, and read the second half, paying special attention (not that you’ll need to be told) to the sequence titled “An Undertaking.” It is eight…