The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews

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Puppet Wardrobe

Daniel Tiffany

To gather a frame of reference for Daniel Tiffany’s critical and creative output, one could begin with the list of illustrations to his 2000 volume on the lyric, Toy Medium. This list includes "1. Von Kempelen’s chess player," ,"2. Mechanical birds," "5. Hans Bellmer, drawing…

The Best American Poetry 2006

Editors David Lehman, Billy Collins

Picking on the Best American Poetry series is like shooting a fish in a barrel. Picking on the Best American Poetry series as edited by Billy Collins is like shooting a minnow in a shotglass. So despite the fact that the subsequent criticism doesn’t even…


Louise Gl

Louise Gl&#252ck: stone, or ice? Not stone, because she doesn’t shatter, nor does she retain heat. Not ice, because she doesn’t thaw, and while her poems do not radiate heat, neither do they leech it from warmer objects. A mystery. Here’s what I admire about…

Martian Dawn

Michael Friedman

There’s nothing in the contract poets sign when they start writing for the ragged edge that says long prose is a no-no. And yet, so few poets take a chance on breaking into the genre the publishing business keeps giving the goodies. Michael Friedman’s Martian…

Skinny Eighth Avenue

Stephen Paul Miller with Noah Mavael Miller, illustrator

If the screaming red hue of USA Today‘s colorcoded weathermap is any indication, the dog days of summer have set in early across the lower 48. But fear not, swelterers: to every season there is a poetry book. The heat-fatigued and heart-woozy can kill the…

Horror Vacui

Thomas Heise

The lexicon of music, wedded to ritual and occasion, cannot always accurately describe the effect of poetry, which finds its origins therein. Too bad, because what I really want to do is describe Horror Vacui as a monotonous dirge, which I cannot say without making…

Seven Palms

Kira Henehan

For the ambitious perfectionist poet — that is, every one you will ever meet — the chapbook’s the paradox of thrift: Although more likely than a book-book aka full-length collection to come through a perfect living text object, the chapbook does not, cannot exist in…

Lemon Hound

Sina Queyras

I first came across the poems of Sina Queyras in New American Writing last year, where she was represented by among other pieces one called “The Meat Painter”: “There is a young man who paints meat,” it begins. Such a beginning might look for the…

Erosion’s Pull

Maureen Owen

The Hebrew word selah, which turns up like a bad penny throughout the Psalms, means (maybe) pause, and implies that what you ought to do while you pause is consider. Take the shot, let the rhetorically-enhanced solution of thought hit the vein, savor and move…