The Constant Critic

Timely poetry reviews

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the new black

Evie Shockley

If your mother or father or the wolf what raised you fulfilled her or his or its obligation to make you fit for civilized company, she or he or it taught you not to be a show-off, a braggart, a gloater. Of course, if whoever…

The Girl Without Arms

Brandon Shimoda

Brandon Shimoda’s The Girl Without Arms (Black Ocean 2010) speaks with a spiritual intensity driven by intuitive pressures to probe through vestiges of family history and the immediate geographic/emotional locations of composition. The resulting book constructs an image, in infrared, of Shimoda’s consciousness. The dominant…

Money Shot

Rae Armantrout

There is great and there is graceful. One does not always lead to or implicate the other, and there is the danger of de trop in both. For that matter, a poet should not be great, for greatness, or, for that matter, grace, can only…

The Wide Road

Carla Harryman and Lyn Hejinian

On the Road’s last long sentence concludes the novel with the (in)famous “scoping” from external observation to internal reflection created by Kerouac’s breath-taking spontaneous prose: So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long,…

Hi-Density Politics

Urayoán Noel

To re-site the body&#8212to remember&#8212 To cruise the city&#8212Lorca meets Joe Brainard! (from “Hi-Then (salutation)”) Unafraid to run on his infectious, jangling nerve, Urayoán Noel weds witty word play to his call for a protean identity politics. By utilizing a variety of constraints and poetic…

The New Masculinist Lyric Redux

Click HERE for a PDF review of the following books: Daniel Tiffany’s Privado (Action Books, 2010) Ronaldo V. Wilson’s Poems of the Black Object (Futurepoem, 2009) Brian Teare’s Sight Map (Univ. of California Press, 2009) Roberto Tejada’s Exposition Park (Wesleyan University Press, 2010)

The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway

Jennifer L. Knox

I have often wondered, because I clearly have too much free time, if there is anything upon which contemporary poets could agree. The only candidate I’ve found thus far is “Chicken Bucket,” a poem from Jennifer Knox’s A Gringo Like Me. “Chicken Bucket” has earned…

The History of Violets

Marosa di Giorgio

Ugly Duckling Presse has just published a translation of Uruguayan poet Marosa di Giorgio’s 1965 book, The History of Violets. The press’s website, which has not-to-be-missed audio clips of the author reading her work in the original Spanish, bears quotes from Kent Johnson and the…

Meddle English

Caroline Bergvall

It is a set of Russian nesting-dolls, which means something if you are not Russian, and something else if you are. And something still further if you like dolls, and something else if you do not. For everything means something in terms of its not….


Michael Cross

On the eve of the second decade of the twenty-first century we are confronted by the potential passing of the print book in for-profit publishing. While small presses specializing in books that require paper bodies may sit at some distance from the fray, challenges to…

Driven to Abstraction

Rosmarie Waldrop

The contents of this book are presented in two main parts, the first part containing five long poems, the second part subdivided into four movements, each movement containing two to five short poems and followed by an interlude, the whole part enveloped by an opening…