Attention Span 2012 | G.C. Waldrep
Barry MacSweeney | Wolfe Tongue: Selected Poems 1965-2000| Bloodaxe | 2003
I hadn’t known of this British poet until he was recommended by a friend. He’s the bastard child of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Allen Ginsberg, a profane and profaning intelligence at rage with a broken language’s possibilities for beauty. A hard life, and a hard poetics to go with it.
Peter Larkin | Leaves of Field | Shearsman | 2006
I reviewed Larkin’s Leaves of Field, along with some other excellent recent British poetry from Shearsman, here.
Cole Swensen | Gravesend | California | 2012
Ranks among Swensen’s best. “Fear is an aperture but also a ligature.” “Or there was no sadness, just a simple fold in time.” “most words for ghost are pieces of mica that carefully layered / will make a window out of fire.” In many ways, the book is a meditation not so much on the existence or meaning of ghosts per se as on the public vs. the private, that which we (can) share with others vs. that which we cannot or will not share. My favorite book by an American poet from the past twelve months.
Aaron McCollough | No Grave Can Hold My Body Down | Ahsahta | 2011
Ben Marcus | The Flame Alphabet | Knopf | 2012
Marcus’s disturbing parable of language, childhood, Judaism, and the apocalypse was not, perhaps, the postmodern masterpiece many of us might have expected of him. It’s a little too preoccupied with language-qua-language—perhaps—and it owes more than a little to other writers at the far edge of the human condition, Brian Evenson most of all. But of all the fiction I’ve read over the past year, The Flame Alphabet has haunted my imagination the most.
Pura López Colomé, trans. Forrest Gander | Watchword | Wesleyan | 2012
Alice Oswald | Memorial | Faber & Faber | 2011
When I heard that Oswald’s next book would be a reconceptualization of The Iliad, I groaned. But this book is something different: The Iliad pared back to only two elements, the catalogue of deaths and the incidence of figurative language, of simile and metaphor. The two, isolated with almost surgical precision from any larger narrative, alternate, and then accrue. The ultimate result is a deeply moving take on a classical violence, a distilled grief.
Rusty Morrison | After Urgency | Tupelo | 2012
Lyn Hejinian | The Book of a Thousand Eyes | Omnidawn | 2012
Essentially a pillow book for insomnia, each page a redaction of the experience of falling into, or out of, or ultimately failing to access sleep. Challenging and lyrical by turns.
Marjorie Welish | In the Futurity Lounge: Asylum for Indeterminacy | Coffee House | 2012
LangPo at its most deliciously unrepentant. Where was it we were slouching, again? and what do we do with the human mind while systems and events carry us there?
Also, for pleasure and/or thinking: Peter Gizzi, Threshold Songs; Mathias Svalina, I Am a Very Productive Entrepreneur; Matthew Cooperman, Still: Of the Earth as the Ark Which Does Not Move; Alice Notley, Songs & Stories of the Ghouls; Heather Christle, What Is Amazing; Brian Evenson, Windeye; Joseph Campana, Natural Selections; Zachary Schomburg, Fjords Vol. 1; Bin Ramke, Aerial; Peter Riley, Alstonefield; Evelyn Reilly, Apocalypso; Paula Bohince, The Children; Elisabeth Bletsoe, Landscape from a Dream; Joshua Kryah, We Are Starved.
G.C. Waldrep is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Archicembalo (Tupelo, 2009) and Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (in collaboration with John Gallaher; BOA Editions, 2011). With Ilya Kaminsky he co-edited Homage to Paul Celan (Marick, 2011), and with Joshua Corey he co-edited The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (just out from Ahsahta). He teaches at Bucknell University, edits the journal West Branch, and serves as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review.