The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews

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what is amazing

Heather Christle

In her third book in four years, Heather Christle asks the right question and has the sense to leave it rhetorical. What is amazing is indeed what packs the crowds into the stadium, as opposed to what is sincere, or labored, or beautiful. There’s a…

Continuous Frieze Bordering Red

Michelle Naka Pierce

Our engagement with art objects depends largely upon culture, and the kind of relationship our engagement affords depends largely, of course, upon how we mean culture. If culture is the performance of a refined set of principles, then the object bears instructive potential for perpetuating…


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…


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…