Category: Poetry Reviews

A review of The Beating Heart by Denise O’Hagan

O’Hagan does a beautiful job of describing the Italy of her childhood—the buildings, fountains, news items, a walk with her parents, conversations, cobblestones, the loss of a friend, or a roadside drive. There’s a sense that every detail is both intensely private, and absolutely important—a universal artefact that must be shared with the reader

A review of The Minor Virtues by Lynn Levin

I don’t usually consider virtue amusing, but Lynn Levin’s new book of poetry The Minor Virtues had me laughing out loud. In a reading I attended, she called it her most cheerful book yet. She said she wanted to focus on not the big virtues like patience and temperance, but what she called the minor virtues that she elicited from paying attention to small moments and looking in deeply.

A review of Sea Glass Catastrophe by Quinn Rennerfeldt

There is music in Sea Glass Catastrophe words flow sometimes in a precipitous way, others with measured and a toned-down cadence with a sprinkle of sharp notes. In this chest of surprises we read poems that tell us of pain and hunger, joy and search, sinning and redemption. Some of the poems are mirrors with many faces, crystals that are coloured by Quinn’s creativity.

A review of Convenient Amnesia by Donald Vincent

This collection by Donald Vincent deserves to be read not just for his lyrical lines but because his poems bring emotional life to a cultural crisis. Books of poetry like Vincent’s convey social and personal histories that affirm and remind, that interrupt tendencies of convenient amnesia.

A review of What Kind of Man by Tony Gloeggler

These poems are all very New York-y, another source of the gritty joie de vivre at the heart of his outlook. Having been born in New York and lived his entire life in New York, this is natural, but it informs Gloeggler’s attitude, and there’s so much New York atmosphere, from scenes, neighborhoods, personalities, institutions, the public transportation.

A review of No Finis by Deborah Woodard

Woodard’s sections are simultaneously beautiful and prosaic, terrifying and enraging. The workers are mostly women, many immigrants who spoke little English yet were still forced to testify in English, despite there being an available translator. The women’s conditions, both in the workspace and also as humans, are on full display in the courtroom, and Woodard opens the door for readers to understand the workers positions.

A review of My Skin its Own Sky by Gillian Swain

My skin its own sky is an intensely honest book, one that doesn’t shirk at going into dark places or sharing what is unbearable.  But always, and throughout this gorgeous collection, in every poem, there is a moment of transformation, where pain becomes beauty. This is the power of the work—by looking and exploring these domestic, broken, and charged moments with the clarity of a poetic gaze, Gillian Swain gives them back to us whole.

A review of Knitting Mangrove Roots by Kerri Shying

Shying’s themes are powerful and topical, exploring violence, drug use and dealing, parenting, ecological destruction, disability, prejudice, and sensual joy.  The mix is natural and compelling, working through a distinctive voice intensely, sometimes painfully honest.

A review of Shrapnel Maps by Philip Metres

An Arab-American who feels strongly about the Palestinian homeland, Metres clearly sees the complexities in the region and reflects them so succinctly and comprehensively in his poems and prose sketches, reflecting the good and bad on both sides.