The Constant Critic

The Dirt Riddles

Michael Walsh

I watch cows, like small, sleepy dinosaurs, swish their tails as they masticate grass in the field across from my house. Every day the same. Swish, chew, swish, chew. I confess: I have been charmed by a vision of rural life that requires no spit,…

The Bride of E

Mary Jo Bang

I have been thinking about how to talk and write about Mary Jo Bang’s new book, The Bride of E, for quite some time. It is one of those books that I immediately took to, but had a hard time articulating how it was doing…

Collective Task

Robert Fitterman

After reading the following statement from Dorthea Lasky’s chapbook, Poetry is Not a Project, please fill out the short survey below and read the review of Collective Task that corresponds to your answer. Lasky writes: “I would argue that a poet who has a project…

Clamor

Elyse Fenton

I get a lot of books of poetry in the mail. Since I know how hard it is for poetry presses to stay in the black, how hard it is for poets to get their books reviewed, how hard it is to realize how very…

Ghost Fargo

Paula Cisewski

Missing brother Her child’s late father Recurring name (A city they made a movie about as a joke) Carnivals Blood oranges Winter as the unmentionable omnipresent (like skyscrapers and hostility in New York) Vanished sea Chuckling, disgusted “Gods are so cool” I’ve been trying to…

The Smaller Half

Marc Rahe

When I used to read submissions for the Denver Quarterly, sometimes more than a hundred in one week, I would often notice recurring aesthetic patterns or gestures, executed with more or less sophistication, in poets of seemingly different substantive interests. Were they just reading the…

The Gray Notebook

Alexander Vvedensky

The Gray Notebook did not originate as a book of poetry. Rather, it was, literally, a gray notebook that Russian avant-garde writer, Alexander Vvedensky, kept from 1932-1933. At 17 pages long (excluding the endpapers, a “Translator’s Note,” and the colophon which brings the published version…

Neighbour Procedure

Rachel Zolf

Love thy neighbor, said the self-referential divinity, as thyself. This was commandment number two, the first being, naturally, the injunction to love the divinity itself with all one’s soul, heart and assorted parts. [1] Whereupon, seizing upon the ambiguity of the second commandment compared to…

Ignatz

Monica Youn

Fate considered as represented by the eyebrow of Ignatz Mouse Cruel fate, kind fate, indifferent fate. Cruel can’t be right, can it? The cruel have their reasons, however selfish or misguided they may be. Kindness is a shield held in defense of those fate ill-fortunes;…

A Village Life

Louise Glück

Louise Glück’s poems are really good at feeling bad. In “Retreating Figure,” the best poem in her Pulitzer-winning collection The Wild Iris, Glück imagines what God might say about His absence. Her best known poem remains “Mock Orange,” a one-page lyric in which she says…


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