reviews

House of Deer by Sasha Steensen

House of Deer is a command of a book—you must experience this—a book that hums with deliberate strangeness, an afternoon heavy with humidity and the unrelenting buzz of insects.—MOLLY SUTTON KIEFER

http://therumpus.net/2014/07/house-of-deer-by-sasha-steensen/


House of Deer by Sasha Steensen

Steensen’s lyrical poetry is full of fantastical imagery that will allow her readers to look at the ‘70s and the concept of a “family unit” through a different lens and gain new insight into why some families become dysfunctional.—AMANDA FERRIS

http://theabsolutemag.com/15542/books/travel-back-in-time-to-the-1970s-with-sasha-steensens-house-of-deer/


Collapsible Poetics Theater by Rodrigo Toscano

The conflation of artistic genres within conceptual Latino/a poetry is most dynamically presented in Collapsible Poetics Theater (2008), where the text doubles as poetry and stage directions, emphasizing subversive ideas such as “social-psychological crisis,” the “trans-modern,” and the drive to “recombine” paradigms of thought along a proletarian historical continuum.—DAVID A. COLON

http://jacket2.org/article/avant-latino-poetry


The Meatgirl Whatever by Kristin Hatch

What Hatch does with language is rough, and I believe her. Or it’s that feelings are rough and she turns them into words we want to hear. Buried in linguistic shortcuts, the smallness and loss that comes with taking away the words that don’t matter or do and leaving in or making the only ones that will help a reader feel and feel more, we get a sense of this book’s through-line. There’s something traumatic, in the end, about this collection.—COLETTE LABOUFF

http://therumpus.net/2014/06/the-meatgirl-whatever-by-kristin-hatch/


House of Deer by Sasha Steensen

By turns aphoristic and impenetrable, Sasha Steensen has an ear for the strange. She can be playful like Hopkins, whom she styles herself after in a poem called “Fragments” and whose name she takes for the family’s street. Neat as Russian nesting dolls, these poems have a cumulative power.—LAURA CRESTE

http://www.full-stop.net/2014/06/18/reviews/laura-creste/house-of-deer-sasha-steensen/


Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast by Hannah Gamble

Hannah Gamble’s collection is a refreshingly honest depiction of insecurity and loneliness. Perhaps a bit obsessively, I’ve read Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast three times since December, and in my ever-so-modest opinion, I’d say it gets even better with age.—DANA JOHNSON

http://gentwenty.com/book-review-invitation-modest-breakfast-hannah-gamble/


House of Deer by Sasha Steensen

Steensen’s book dedication reads, “For my families." One section, “The Girl and the Deer,” tells a contemporary fable about an abandoned child raised by deer. The concept of having family outside of blood and why that matters speaks to a bigger idea of how exclusive (or inclusive) family can be. Family is House of Deer’s central focus because of its natural ability to answer questions of belonging, both to a place and to a group of people.—NATHAN KEMP

http://www.americanmicroreviews.com/#!house-of-deer-by-sasha-steensen/cvlb


88 Sonnets by Clark Coolidge

Through the music of their phrasing, Coolidge’s sonnets push us to feel the intense but fleeting pleasures in those ephemeral utterances that, while apprehended, cannot always be fully understood. Like the alienated majesty of chitchat overheard from passersby coming back to you as your own best thoughts.—TIM WOOD

http://coloradoreview.colostate.edu/reviews/88-sonnets/


Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast by Hannah Gamble

The secret to Hannah Gamble’s charm lies in her uncanny ability to hold reality and a quiet, seemingly commonplace sadness squarely in her binocular-like vision. Her poems of quirky self-admonishment and effective disengagement are delivered in a style whose dizzying effects you are not likely to forget.—MARK ELEVELD

http://www.raintaxi.com/your-invitation-to-a-modest-breakfast/


Inter Arma by Lauren Shufran

I chose Inter Arma, a book of poems mostly in forms, to win the first ever Ottoline Prize from Fence Books because it is clever and dirty and political graffiti—on the subjects of homosexuality; the military; homosexuality in the military; and ducks.—REBECCA WOLFF

http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/poetry/crossroads/new_american_poets/lauren_shufran/


Inter Arma by Lauren Shufran

The collection of poems swells with stars, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and Roman poet boy Ovid. There are also a lot of animals, which is admirable, as it sort of gives Lauren’s poems Disney-like parts. Chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigeons, and gooses receive roles.—SETH OELBAUM

http://htmlgiant.com/author-spotlight/a-close-reading-of-a-poem-by-a-girl/


88 Sonnets by Clark Coolidge

An engagement with language's musicality plays a significant role in the writing of Clark Coolidge. His poetical works are diverse in form and content reflecting the longevity of his career, and yet an interest in bebop continues to influence his writing. 88 Sonnets is no exception; one trips across these poems with their multitude of riff-like disjuncts, ever aware of his brilliant use of caesura. As one progresses through the text, one finds that the work seems to heave itself together, growing exponentially, far beyond the smallish sonnet form.—MAYA OSBORNE

http://thequietus.com/articles/14299-clark-coolidge-88-sonnets-review


88 Sonnets by Clark Coolidge

Well into his seventies, Coolidge continues to construct a body of poetry that delights, as Auden would say, "in the valley of its making." Coolidge's sonnets create a space where the mind can follow its own fits and leaps in full freedom.

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23461


88 Sonnets by Clark Coolidge

Coolidge’s associational writing—not unlike the jazz of Ornette Coleman or the paintings of Philip Guston—achieves its greatness by flirting with incoherence. I find his work inviting. He leaves room for the reader to roam and dream and play. It’s difficult to read any of his texts the same way twice. That strikes me as being very great indeed.—TOM BECKETT

http://galatearesurrection21.blogspot.com/2014/01/88-sonnets-by-clark-coolidge.html


In the Laurels, Caught by Lee Ann Brown

Brown demonstrates a healthy respect for chthonic orders, stringing together a diverse accumulation of poetic stylizations that never looses sight of how much she owes to the land around her, the very environment within which her poetry flourishes.—PATRICK JAMES DUNAGAN

http://galatearesurrection21.blogspot.com/2014/01/books-by-eleni-sikelianos-elizabeth.html


In the Laurels, Caught by Lee Ann Brown

Brown casts a wide net of poetic intersubjectivity, catching up echoes of Stein, Woolf, Niedecker, mystic nature writer Opal Whiteley, bluegrass singers, and samplings from a common domestic lingual trove: weeding instructions, weaving incantations, the tangle talk of childhood which, as a mother, she’s absorbed unapologetically.—MOLLY BENDALL

http://www.lanaturnerjournal.com/contents-current/in-the-laurels-caught-lee-ann-brown


Inter Arma by Lauren Shufran

Inter Arma is a complex combination of classic form, contemporary schism, homophobic militarism, and ancient texts. Its range is wide and deep in the sense that, while it circles around the same images and themes, it invents different linguistic ways to come at these things. The classical references act as a guiding spine for the contemporary political critique in a really difficult and interesting way.—DREW KALBACH

http://thefanzine.com/a-review-of-lauren-shufrans-inter-arma/


Undergloom by Prageeta Sharma

In Prageeta Sharma’s Undergloom, the poet takes on ideas of self, family, and community within the narrow confines of the English language and literary history that she also must speak from within. These poems are sharp, and many are out to shake up institutions, poets, and other intellectuals for perpetuating a group mindedness that injures those who contradict and challenge established discourses. This is not to say she rejects groups or community, but Sharma raises important criticisms that often go unnoticed or denied in America.—DAVID GIBBS

http://phantomlimbpress.com/Phantom_Limb/Issue_9_Fall_2013/Interviews_and_Reviews/undergloom_review.html


Miss America by Catherine Wagner

What I find fascinating about these books, read as a whole, is in part through just how spread out around a subject Wagner can actually write, pushing as far and further around, making the reader have to almost decode where the poems are going, or coming from.—ROB MCLENNAN

http://robmclennan.blogspot.ca/2010/02/catherine-wagner-miss-american-and.html


Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast by Hannah Gamble

Always audacious and dark, Gamble’s poems may be understood as elliptical fables of selfhood that combine lively characterizations, a giddy tonal muscularity, and the sense that a delightful, zany wonder resides around every household corner and that within every cranny of the imagination lies a supreme, holistic weirdness.—ANNA JOURNEY

http://www.kenyonreview.org/kr-online-issue/2013-fall/selections/your-invitation-to-a-modest-breakfast-by-hannah-gamble-738439/


Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast by Hannah Gamble

I can’t recall a book where the voice is so peculiar, idiosyncratic, so interestingly three-dimensional it made me care for the speaker. This book reads with the familiarity, warmth, and sometimes cutting insight of a trusted friend (albeit a rather odd one at times).—MICHAEL SCHMELTZER

http://www.cutbankonline.org/2013/09/16/cutbank-reviews-your-invitation-to-a-modest-breakfast-by-hannah-gamble/


The Cow by Ariana Reines

Framed by the clinical language of a livestock manual, Ariana Reines’s first book runs language, culture and sex through a meat grinder, and the results are not pretty.  Perhaps those who like poetry or sausage should not watch it being made. But as the Koran points out, “Do you then believe in a part of the book and disbelieve the other?” Reines insists on showing us “the other side of the animal.”—MIKE MCDONOUGH

http://coldfrontmag.com/the-cow/


The Other Poems by Paul Legault

Legault is an exciting poet working on fascinating projects, and The Other Poems displays the strength of his poetic muscle. After reimagining the sonnet, Legault could have called it a day, but he chose to keep going, reinventing his own form again and again. Including his first collection of poems, The Madeline Poems (Omnidawn, 2009), Legault has published three books in four years. If his pace holds, we’re in for a wild ride in the coming years.—TIMOTHY @ Hazel & Wren

http://www.hazelandwren.com/2013/what-were-reading-the-other-poems/


The Other Poems by Paul Legault

Legault’s poems are a sequence of collage that leave an almost magical residue. The pieces in The Other Poems suspend believe for a moment or two longer than one might think is possible, and manage to weave perfectly a number of threads coming together from multiple directions, crafting oddly-surreal (even dreamily-so) poems that are bulletproof-precise. They might appear strange, and even confusing at first, but once they sink in, it might be impossible to remove them.—ROB MCLENNAN

http://robmclennan.blogspot.com/2013/07/paul-legault-other-poems.html


Nick Demske by Nick Demske

In his self-titled debut, Nick Demske enters the experimental realm through the sonnet, the most orthodox of forms. Though the poems throughout his book all feature fourteen lines, their meters, line endings, and rhymes (or lack thereof) rarely resemble anything Miltonic or Petrarchan.—EVAN MCGARVEY

http://coloradoreview.colostate.edu/reviews/nick-demske/


Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast by Hannah Gamble

Once Hannah Gamble’s purpose is made clear, the variety of tools she can bring to bear, and the reach she has with them, is impressive. Gamble delves deep into romantic cliché to reveal how truly alien these familiar, comforting symbols are to human emotionality in the raw. —ANTHONY RINTALA

http://www.usi.edu/sir/eclectrician/Your-Invitation-to-a-Modest-Breakfast.aspx


Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast by Hannah Gamble

Spending time with Gamble at breakfast is like a living in a Bruegel version of contemporary Chicago: workers, children, folklore, snow, dentists, Teflon pans. Gamble’s poems express origin stories, births, various apparitions of mothers and fathers; they are fairy-tales for slightly off-kilter little boys and girls. In them you will be handed onions and potatoes, houseplants, cats, “egg after egg after egg.” I haven’t had many better meals this year.—AMANDA SMELTZ

http://coldfrontmag.com/news/top-40-poetry-books-of-2012-10-1


In the Laurels, Caught by Lee Ann Brown

Through Brown’s study, the words, phrases and references she weaves throughout her poems speak to the culture and the population of the area, from the sing-song lilt of casual speech and laid back conversation to the rougher ends of such a folk-collection of country music.—ROB MCLENNAN

http://www.robmclennan.blogspot.ca/2013/08/lee-ann-brown-in-laurels-caught.html


In the Laurels, Caught by Lee Ann Brown

The terrain of Lee Ann Brown’s poetic obsession is greater and more eclectic than local color, norm, tool, parcel. In the Laurels, Caught is a collection which is thistle ‘n petal and intellectual engagement. Yet it is grounded in, if not given over to, the Carolinas, where Brown lived as a girl and which she revisits yearly.—SARAH SARAI

http://therumpus.net/2013/08/in-the-laurels-caught-by-lee-ann-brown/


Eyelid Lick by Donald Dunbar

In these pages you will find a poet totally at ease in his skin, totally not fucking around. You will find moments of spontaneous language and insight and beauty that are all the more amazing because they don’t feel like manufactured spontaneity. You will find language charged with sex and ugliness—“in those moments that feel inexact”—and all the hilarity that makes being a human such a gross and glorious endeavor. You will find letters to God and “hundreds of thousands of small confetti explosions.”—DAVID PEAK

http://therumpus.net/2013/08/eyelid-lick-by-donald-dunbar/