Archive for the ‘Commented List’ Category
Helen Adam, ed. Kristin Prevallet | A Helen Adam Reader | National Poetry Foundation | 2007
Jules Boykoff | The Slow Motion Underneath | The Dusie Kollektiv | 2007
If you can’t buy a hardcopy, you can download Boykoff’s poems here.
Martha Dandridge Custis, Lawrence Giffin, eds. | Comment is Free, Vol. 1: Participatory Politics for a New Age | Lil’ Norton | 2008
Jean Day | Odes & Otium | Adventures in Poetry | 2006
Johanna Drucker | Night Crawlers on the Web | Granary | 2001
Mina Loy, ed. Roger L. Conover | The last lunar Baedeker | Jargon Society | 1982
Make sure to get the 1982 edition, not the more recent (which has the same editor and is titled nearly the same thing). The 1982 edition is considerably bigger, for one. (You may need to go to a really good library to find it.)
K. Silem Mohammad | Breathalyzer | Edge | 2008
Gabriel Pomerand, trans. Michael Kasper and Bhamati Viswanathan | Saint Ghetto of the Loans: Grimoire | Ugly Duckling | 2006
Leslie Scalapino | That They Were at the Beach—Aelotropic Series | North Point | 1985
Rod Smith | Deed | Iowa | 2007
Hannah Weiner, ed. Patrick F. Durgin | Hannah Weiner’s Open House | Kenning | 2006
More Marie Buck here.
Sarah Vap | Dummy Fire | Saturnalia | 2007
“Sitting around in paper gowns, in deep study.”
This book twirls faithfully its own slippy vernac.
Veronica Forrest-Thomson | Collected Poems | Shearsman | 2008
“Folded & re/folded the/map of the/town is pass/ed through/our lives/& hands ac/ross the table.”
A conjure board for the recent nearby.
Kim Hyesoon, trans. Don Mee Choi | Mommy Must Be A Fountain of Feathers | Action | 2008
“she hammers away till the keyboard is bloodied”
“I want to shove a finger into the silence and make it vomit.”
Etel Adnan | In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country | City Lights | 2005
“There should be only one school, the one where you learn the future…without even any students. Located in the guts of the species.”
Ines Hernandez-Avila, ed. | Reading Native American Women: Critical/Creative Representations | Altamira | 2005
“This is not a treaty!”
Myung Mi Kim | Under Flag | Kelsey St | 1991
“These men these women chant and chant”
Rereading in anticipation of her new book Penury. As Sarah Anne Cox said to me recently, “it’s hard to find something that truly moves you.”
Diane Glancy | Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears | Harcourt Brace | 1996
Rereading. A recent article in the New Yorker, mired per usual in the vast inaccuracy of the ruling class, jokingly compared a boycott of the Beijing Olympics on account of Tibet to a boycott of those in Salt Lake City on account of the Cherokee. I wish more people would read this luminous, frightening, deeply informative book, which to me has an affinity with Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
Christian Wiman, ed. | Poetry: the Translation Issue | Poetry Foundation | April 2008
The first issue I’d read. I liked it.
Alice Notley | In the Pines | Penguin | 2007
Sarah Anne Cox | Truancy | Dusie | 2007
VA | board books, picture books, & chapter books | various | various
I could live without some of the tropes, others I probably could not.
Caroline Bergvall & C.S. Giscombe | Reading at Small Press Traffic | November 2008
I am eagerly awaiting this event.
Yedda Morrison | girl scout nation| Displaced | 2008
“and yet/a doe”
More Elizabeth Treadwell here.
Tony Towle | Winter Journey | Hanging Loose | 2008
The romantic temperment, tempered by time, cool and classical.
James Church | Corpse in the Koryo | St Martins | 2007
North Korean detective Inspector O solves the mysteries of the universe.
Jack Spicer | My Vocabulary Did this to me | Wesleyan | 2008
All of me, why not take all of me!
Paul Clark | The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History | Cambridge | 2008
An account, not of the politics, but of the culture—how those model operas were collectively created, what happened to painting, what about the movies—sympathetic and brilliant.
August Kleinzahler | Sleeping it off in Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected | FSG | 2008
The tough guy, a guilty pleasure.
Susan Naquin | Peking: Temples and City Life, 1400-1900 | California | 2000
A beautiful, granular history of the celestial capital when it was still itself, from the Yongle Emperor to the Boxers.
Benjamin Friedlander | The Missing Occasion of Saying Yes | Subpress | 2007
Lovely music of what happens, gracefully.
Alice Notley | In the Pines | Penguin | 2007
The American sound, clear and chill—need I explain?
Stephen Owen | The Late Tang: Poetry of the mid-9th century | Harvard East Asian Monographs | 2007
Belated companion to his high Tang masterwork, fully its equal—what you need on Li Shangyin, Du Mu, Bo Juyi, and the milieu.
Der Nister | The Family Mashber | New York Review Books Classics | 2008
Magic socialist realism in the shetl of Berdichev.
Ron Padgett | How to Be Perfect | Coffee House | 2007
More Simon Schuchat here.
Laynie Browne | Daily Sonnets | Counterpath Press | 2007
Courageously and delightfully open.
Donato Mancini | Hell Passport No. 22 | Perro Verlag | 2007
Like much of Mancini’s work, this circuitry of messy tracings forces us to wonder not just how we read but what reading might be.
Carl Andre | Cuts: Texts 1959-2004 | MIT | 2005
I’m not too hot on Andre’s poetry, but I suspect pieces such as “Anaxial Symmetry” and “The Dialectic Between Two States” will keep me going for years.
Aram Saroyan | Collected Minimal Poems | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2007
Not only a music heard, but seen.
Derek Beaulieu | Flatland | Information as Material | 2007
Jessica Wyman, ed. | Pro Forma: Language/Text/Visual Art | YYZBooks | 2007
Simon Glass’s annotated translation of Genesis 11:1-9 is worth the price of admission on its own.
Jordan Scott | blert | Coach House | 2008
I haven’t actually read this for a little while, but it was finally published in the spring. Go read it.
Trevor Joyce | What’s in Store | NWP & The Gig | 2007
This year’s discovery. Thanks, Nate.
Angela Carr | Ropewalk | Snare | 2006
Reads a bit like a grad school creative thesis, which it is, but glimmers dazzle.
Clint Burnham | Smoke Show | Arsenal Pulp Press | 2005
Stephen Collis | Phyllis Webb and the Common Good: Poetry/Anarchy/Abstraction | Talonbooks | 2007
An illuminating reaquaintance with an important foremother. I loved The Commons too.
More Mark Truscott here.
Dan Machlin | Dear Body | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2007
A book I continue to read and recommend.
George Oppen, ed. Stephen Cope | George Oppen: Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers | California | 2007
“Lay it on the line—” (page 203).
Bill Berkson & Colter Jacobsen | Bill | Gallery 16 Editions | 2008
Bill feels like a lost classic. Jacobsen’s drawings are beautiful. The book reads like a dream. Berkson culled the text from a juvenile detective novel. From Bill: “War broke out the following day, as agreed.”
Prageeta Sharma | Infamous Landscapes | Fence | 2007
“And I still remain difficult when it is advantageous.” No doubt—Sharma has found her register: it’s daring, brutal, and always, a pleasure. Infamous Landscapes breaks new ground for Sharma and clears the air a bit.
Alan Filreis | Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-1960 | North Carolina | 2008
Yes, it’s a serious historical book, a major book, but Filreis’s personal voice and deep connections to mid-century modernism show how many formal concerns of the work were linked to progressive politics; it is an untold history of the so-called language/nature problem (and the reactions to it) that continue into our moment.
Sharon Mesmer | The Virgin Formica | Hanging Loose | 2008
I read Francis Picabia’s I Am a Beautiful Monster (MIT Press, 2007) and Mesmer’s Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo Books, 2007) during the same one week period. It was an uncanny pairing. Now I’m reading Mesmer’s The Virgin Formica, which is relentless and fearless, and except for Picabia’s book, may be peerless.
Christina Davis | Forth A Raven | Alice James | 2006
These are spare and unsparing poems. Davis writes: “In the history of language/ the first obscenity was silence.” There is a God.
Brandon Downing | Dark Brandon | Grievous Pictures | 2007
B. Downing’s prowling, humour noir DVD Dark Brandon is not an intervention, but more of a break-in. These deep cultural cullings are an unsettling reflection of Downing’s one way mirror. The mirror is our age’s “own face” as Clark Coolidge might say.
Pierre Reverdy, trans. Ron Padgett | Pierre Reverdy: Prose Poems | Black Square / Brooklyn Rail | 2007
Both Reverdy and Padgett adorn the unadorned. Here is a masterful and open-hearted poet translating a kindred soul. From the poem “Waiting Room” Reverdy writes: “And the trees, telegraph poles, and houses will take on the shape of our age.”
Kevin Killian | Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow | Belladonna 117 | 2008
“Read my lips, ‘I’m into you,’ the virus seems to wriggle / through plate glass.” Is Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow the first chapbook in the Belladonna series written by a man? Bravo to Rachel Levitsky and Erica Kaufman on the series overall, and bravo to Kevin Killian on Wow.
Noteworthy, other books and poems from the hubbub include: Peter Gizzi’s The Outernationale, anything translated by Sawako Nakayasu; Serge Fauchereau’s Complete Fiction translated by John Ashbery & Ron Padgett; Joseph Massey’s Within Hours; Joel Lewis’s on-the-level every day Learning from New Jersey; Steve Dickinson’s up-tempo Disposed; Jennifer Moxley’s The Line; The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen, edited by Michael Rothenberg; David Trinidad’s loving The Late Show. “Some of These Daze” from Charles Bernstein’s Girly Man. The Route, a capacious investigation by Jen Hofer and Patrick Durgin: “We want to say something in another language which is also ours” (page 120).
More Tom Devaney here.
Walt Whitman | Leaves of Grass | Norton Critical Edition | 2002
This summer, I read the 1892 Leaves from cover to cover, and then the 1855 version, and did not want either to end. Despite its repetitiousness, its occasionally reprehensible poems, and its many awful lines— (“limitless limpid jets of love” being one of the most hilariously bad representations of male orgasm)—I found myself completely in love with Whitman’s project—its grandiosity, its attunement to his time, its largesse.
Mahmoud Darwish, trans. Fady Joudah | The Butterfly’s Burden | Copper Canyon | 2007
A collection of his most recent books translated by Fady Joudah into a supple and lush English — The Stranger’s Bed (1998), A State of Siege (2002), and Don’t Apologize for What You’ve Done (2003) — aptly represents the range of Darwish’s mature style. From the courtly and ecstatic love lyrics of The Stranger’s Bed, to the diaristic and penetrating political poem of A State of Siege, to the colloquial meditations on mortality, history, and the future in Don’t Apologize, The Butterfly’s Burden bears witness to the generous breadth of Darwish’s poetic and cultural achievement.
Marisol Limon Martinez | After You, Dearest Language | Ugly Duckling Presse | 2005
I can’t shake this book, composed as an index. Little haunter, dream house, index of night.
C.D. Wright | One Big Self | Copper Canyon | 2007
Wright culls statements and stories from the poet’s interviews of Louisiana prison inmates, conducted with photographer Deborah Luster (following in the tradition of Muriel Rukeyser’s trip to Gauley Junction with photographer Nancy Naumburg). Wright juggles these voices and images in ways that create “one big self” that contains author, reader, and prisoner.
Michael Magee | My Angie Dickinson | Zasterle | 2006
What happens with Flarf finds/fights traditional form, when Emily meets Angie. Ron Silliman has already called it a classic, but this is no museum piece.
H.L. Hix | God Bless: A Political/Poetic Discourse | Etruscan Press | 2007
God Bless comes almost entirely from speeches made by George Bush and Osama Bin Laden, which Hix transforms into poems in various traditional Western and non-Western forms, from the sestina to the ghazal. It is a fascinating project, demonstrating an aesthetic attention that becomes a kind of ethical and political attention, a close reading of the first order. A document of close listening, God Bless aptly demonstrates the profound lack of listening at the heart of this administration’s decision-making process. Documentary poetry, in Hix’s rendering, becomes a kind of history lesson for the poet and his readers, a way of reading into the archive and thus extending the archive into poetry, poetry as “extending the document.”
Katie Degentesh | The Anger Scale | Combo Books | 2005
Flarf meets the MMPI, and they have a baby. If lyric tends toward the neurotic, and flarf toward the psychotic, then this book demonstrates a healthy split-personality.
Bob Perelman | Iflife | Roof | 2006
Rangy both formally and tonally, Perelman’s latest is framed by poems that situate us in the War on Terror, this book by a langpo vet moves us through elegies, investigations, re-considerations, muddlings of all sorts. He’s still lost his avant-garde card somewhere in the wash; I hope he never finds it.
Robert Hass | Time and Materials | Ecco | 2007
I’ve always had something of a lover’s quarrel with Hass’ poetry, for the ways in which it occasionally luxuriates in its own pleasures, and veers into the prose of privilege. Yet poems like “Winged and Acid Dark”—among some others here—demonstrate the terrifying limits of poetry in the face of the dark side of human imagination. In the tradition of a narrative lyric poetry conscious of its own imperial leanings.
Hayan Charara, ed. | Inclined to Speak: Contemporary Arab American Poetry | U of Arkansas Press | 2008
Charara gathers the new and established voices of Arab American poetry confronting the post-9/11 landscape. Poets like Lawrence Joseph and Fady Joudah shake me to the core; poets like Khaled Mattawa and Naomi Shihab Nye bring me comfort.
Daniil Kharms, ed. and trans. Matvei Yankelevich | Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms | Overlook | 2007
Named by Marjorie Perloff as one of the books of the year in the Times Literary Supplement, reviewed in The New York Times by George Saunders, and with poems published in The New Yorker, Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (translated by Matvei Yankelevich) doesn’t need my negligible imprimatur. It is unnecessary for me to say that everyone must own a copy of this book, but I will. You should. An anti-poet of the first order.
More Philip Metres here.
Walter Benjamin, trans. Esther Leslie | Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs | Verso | 2007
This beautifully produced book includes lots of snapshots from Benjamin’s archive, including his wooden toy collection and—my favorite—the log he kept of his child Stefan’s funny expressions as he was learning language.
Anne Tardos | I Am You | Salt | 2008
I saw Tardos give a reading from this book at the Bowery Poetry Club sometime last Fall, and thought, this is “beautiful, sexy, hilarious and smart—and most important, it’s REAL!” I got the book and still think the same thing—Tardos give 100% in this book.
Roberto Tejada, Kristin Dykstra, Gabriel Bernal Granados, eds. | Mandorla Nº 10 | 2007
I was thrilled to see the long awaited Mandorla 10, with such carefully edited selections from a wide variety of writers, many of them bi-lingual or presented in translation. For me, it is an anthology of everything I’ve been missing in poetry in the last five years (in terms of both form and content).
Susan Howe | Souls of the Labadie Tract | New Directions | 2007
I love the “lexical landscape” Howe creates in her books, this one in the time of the language of the Labadists, a 17th century Quietist sect.
with me here between us–of
our being together even in
english half english too late
Roberto Bolaño, trans. Natasha Wimmer | The Savage Detectives | Picador | 2007
The tale of two wild poet boys in an On The Road Adventure… at least that’s how the book is characterized by reviewers. It seems to me to be more about the attempt to recover the mythology of poetry and the bohemian ethic of beauty, love, and self-indulgence … remember when we were racy, spontaneous, scandalous, drunk, oversexed, high on ambition, low on productivity? Not me, I came of age in the 90s. But I remember clearly thinking that literature ended with my generation—now that’s youth! Bolaño hits it on the head (sometimes…). In my reading, however, Natasha Wimmer is the true genius here—she’s clearly an amazing writer herself, and the book reads as if it was written in English. Quite a feat, given how raunchy most of the language is.
John Bellamy Foster | Ecology Against Capitalism | Monthly Review | 2002
I caught the tale end of Foster’s talk at a poetry conference at Evergreen College, and was struck by his ecological critique of capitalism, so I bought the book. It has me thinking about how difficult it is to think outside of economic models—Cartesian thinking is economic! Yikes.
Selah Saterstrom | The Pink Institution | Coffee House | 2004
A genre blend of poetry and narrative, the tale comes undone along with all the characters. And the writing is as gorgeous as her voice, reading it.
Rachel Zolf | Human Resources | Coach House | 2007
The back cover suggests reading this book as “the creative potential of salvage” and that’s a pretty good description. This book has a pissed-off ironic tone that reveals how junk-language permeates our everyday life, and there’s no redemption: “Our abstractions stink of pure gibberish.” Ain’t that the truth! This book is definitely not wallowing in abstractions – which is very refreshing. Susquehanna by Dale Smith
Isabelle Garron, trans. Sarah Riggs | Face Before Against | Litmus | 2008
An immersion in language, slow but energetic…. these precise and elegant translations sometimes remind me of Mallarme’s A Tomb for Anatole; others remind me of It Then by Danielle Collobert. Something between elegy and remembrance, body, woman, and thought.
Marina Abramovic | 7 Easy Pieces | Charta | 2007
I paid $60 for this whopper of a book, documenting Abramovic’s reenacted performances by Beuys, Export, Nauman, Pane, Acconci, and Abramovic herself. This woman terrifies me—she builds walls, and then moves through them.
More Kristin Prevallet here.