With the weather warming and our spirits high, let’s raise a bowlful of something good to this thought: it’s never been a better time to get inebriated. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we’ve earned anything. I’m not offering a toast to a job well done. Rather, I’d like to point out the fact that we’ve really been figuring our substances out, that the market for high-octane intoxicants has never been richer. With the explosion of microbreweries and the recent legalization/decriminalization of recreational marijuana in a handful of states, our culture is positively exuberant over the prospects of getting ripped, and wherever you fall morally in your stance (or your slouch) on such matters, there is no denying that the times, they are a-changin’.
This is, of course, especially true for pot, and a host of questions have opened up in its haze concerning health, sociology, public policy, and economics. These are important and interesting domains, but the real shape of marijuana’s legal future will be determined by what we say about it, by how we envision it fitting into our lives—in short, by how we market it. Well, its marketing has arrived; let’s take a look. . .
Read more at The Hairsplitter
“Poets are our professional observers,” quotes Yamaguchi, before looking closely to see how traditional “witness” sorts with its evil twin: “surveillance.” It could be that poets can sometimes do both, and in the process engage our contemporary culture in untraditional ways.
Read the review at AGNI
Mary Jo Bang is a slippery poet, with a mind that often seems a few seconds ahead of itself. A quick glance at the cover of her new book, The Last Two Seconds, perfectly encapsulates this kind of speed: the monorail that has just slipped from our frame of vision, the typography of the title trailing like a futurist contrail. It is this trailing, however, that is a crucial point—this collection is not about the next two seconds, but the last—as in the last two seconds you’ve just spent reading this sentence.
Take a quick leap of scale and you land at the collection’s central concern: history. . .
Read more at NewPages
Diana Hamilton’s Universe is one of the tightest projects I’ve ever read: a chapbook length poem on ethics, broken into two sections (one roughly on property/possession, the other on race) and comprised largely of analytical propositions angularly cut into strikingly short lines. “You and I exist in a civil condition” the speaker asserts. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?
Oh, but this poem is exciting, for its sophistication and, especially, for its theatrical sensibility. . . .
Read more at NewPages
It’s funny to think of No Girls, No Telephones in the context of the fan genre, like everyone’s favorite 50 Shades of Gray, but let’s do that for just one wincingly good second.
Okay. Of course, this isn’t 50 Shades of Gray. This is poetry, for one. It’s a collaboration between Brittany Cavallaro and Rebecca Hazelton, two talented and accomplished poets. And perhaps most importantly, it riffs not off of a tweeny bestseller but one of the most sophisticated, startling, and idiomatic literary works of the American tradition, John Berryman’s Dream Songs. . . .
Read more at NewPages
The poems in Sylph, Abigail Cloud’s debut collection, are comprised of multiple balancing acts. They are graceful, self-assured poems, beautifully executed with a tightly focused imagistic sensibility. But they are also searching, inquisitive poems—their arrivals are real-time events, self-discoveries. They have an airy quality, as the title of the collection would suggest (there are “wings” everywhere), yet are also deeply rooted in the material world. They are as at-home in myth and the spirit world, or the haunting voices in archives, as they are in the garden and in the home. . . .
Read the whole review at NewPages
The Tribute Horse, Brandon Som’s debut full collection, is a surprising title once you wade into the first few pages of this beautiful mediation on migration, cultural memory, and the great mitigating force of both, language. The title image is almost like a piece of statuary, a trophy or memorial object, and to be sure, this collection does feel like a tribute, but it spends far more time at sea and among the heights of birdsong and other utterances than would seem to warrant that powerfully terrestrial and corporeal image of the horse…
Read the whole review at NewPages.