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Reviews & Interviews

Ronin Poet: Kalkbrenner’s Foul Feelings

December 17, 2010
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Brian Kalkbrenner’s Foul Feelings is the closest thing in English, spiritually, to haiku that I can possibly think of.

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Civil Rights Moonwalk: Michael Jackson, Armond White, and Democracy

December 3, 2010
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A focus on the human person allows White to cut right to the heart of cultural issues without getting lost or tossed around in the media firestorms that accompany cultural events.

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Time, Death, & Video Games: Rushdie’s Luka and the Fire of Life

December 1, 2010
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If you’re going to talk about such things as parallel universes, multiple lives, determinism and free will is not the video game a reputable analog?

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How Beauty (No Stronger Than a Flower) Shall Hold a Plea

November 28, 2010
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These poems thread and rethread the nature of identity—in theology and philosophy, called the problem of haecceity.

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“A javelin of lavender…asserts a dozen verities”: Donnelly’s Cloud Corporation

November 24, 2010
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Amid labyrinthine syntax, Timothy Donnelly is battling a kind of Minotaur: half-self, half-metaphysical conundrum; Donnelly’s sword is his mind.

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A Study in Fixation

November 22, 2010
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One senses Zapruder has only been thinking of his subjects only for as long as it takes him to write the poem: they’re happening, as opposed to happened.

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Sondheim, The Demon Lyricist of Broadway

November 14, 2010
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Sondheim isn’t a man to cloud the expression of his judgments with considerations like politeness or collegial complicity. Were his rivals still alive, they might want to take out a contract on him.

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Memorial Day

November 10, 2010
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White’s poems are mired in a period, but not stiffly so: they breathe, they surf along the pulse of memory and desire.

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A Ghost (Sonnet) in Gene Tanta’s “Unusual Woods”

November 8, 2010
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Seemingly disconnected things envisioned as unified: this is the surreal experience of the “marvelous” or the Deep Image experience of the deep image.

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On Gene Tanta’s “Critical Introduction to Unusual Woods.”

October 30, 2010
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Even though both the form and content of Gene Tanta’s work are particular to his Romanian-immigrant experience, he insists that his poetry is accessible to everyone. His poetry, he says, exists both as aesthetic objects and political propaganda. This is absolutely true about all poetry, not just his own. Inevitably, literary criticism will come to see that literature is always both.

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A Beautifully Scrambled Egg

October 19, 2010
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Mathews is just talking about how to cook eggs. He’s paying really close attention to both the delicate things eggs are the delicate process of cooking them. What for? Because it’s frickin’ awesome. Shut up and enjoy the eggs.

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Scotch Wave of Light

October 18, 2010
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Klein speaks for those of us who are trying to decipher between what is real and what is illusion; these poems depict a speaker who is, like many of us today, trying to stay not only alive, but sentient, all the while bearing witness to the current tides of war, financial collapse, and personal loss.

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Surrealism Re-Imagined

October 11, 2010

At its heart, surrealism wages a political and ideological battle through language. By creating impossible images through placing disparate objects side-by-side, poetry dismantles and re-formulates our perceptions and conceptions of reality.

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And the James Patterson of Contemporary Poetry is…

May 23, 2010
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Call me a lyre, I dare you

Last or some night
light, who cares the when of this,
glittered the tree up at the end
as the wash from a car as moved the planet, I’m not
in touch with personally Saturn, in branched fingers
of eerily, I’d say off-the-shelf language, isn’t it
necessary still how life lit into the moment
to say other than the facts of it, see,
whatever the bits are inside that oscillate
or pinwheel, I was moved to internal whirring
cicadish, even though my epiphanic dog-walkings
mean shit to you in the throes of your
epiphanic askings of the moon, for what, afterall
are we in this, some random sense of, fuck
if I know, belonging

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“While I was masturbating, more rainforest disappeared”

May 2, 2010
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In a poem called “Life,” which appears in his most recent collection, Words for Empty and Words for Full (Pitt Poetry, 2010), Bob Hicok writes: “The feeling that mysticism / is the only way to be polite…. / While I was masturbating, / more rainforest / disappeared….” These disclosures feel true—and inevitable, given what at […]

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Some Sort of Truth: Dorothea Lasky’s BLACK LIFE Hurts Like Joy

April 15, 2010
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Dorothea Lasky is a poet of petulant grace. The particular way she does is she carves into the alphabet for poetry’s hurtfully buried, metastasized epiphanies of black life. Thence comes the fragments of jagged wonder she strings together to decorate her verse with pretty conflict. Her wonder (love and awe) is heavy and plain, stilted […]

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