Book Review: “The Last Two Seconds,” by Mary Jo Bang

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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

Book Review: “Universe,” by Diana Hamilton

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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

Book Review: “No Girls No Telephone,” by Brittany Cavallaro and Rebecca Hazelton

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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

Book Review: “Sylph,” by Abigail Cloud

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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

Book Review: “The Tribute Horse,” by Brandon Som

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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.

The Death of Disc: How the Discontinuation of the iPod Classic Spells the End of Humanity

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Hi there music lover—I hope you enjoyed that subtitle. Look, just between friends, I’d like to tell you something: I’ve been awfully sad. I am the extremely proud owner of an iPod Classic—a fifth generation 80GB classic—which my mother gave to me years ago, because she is a good mother. This little hard drive has been my constant companion, bearing all kinds of weather, plugged into all kinds of machines, tearing through innumerable headphones as it has saturated me, in a near constant spinning of data, with all the sounds that might complete a life. I have kept it in many cases; I have wiped its contents and started clean; I have held it in my left pocket, in my right, strapped it to my arm, and tucked it in my waistband; I have even levered it open and replaced its faithful, fatigued battery. And now, as of this September and Apple’s reconfiguration of their product line, it has, as a species, gone extinct.

This is wailingly sad news. Every Classic out there now is the last. And if I may, in this tidy little essay, I’d like to offer a dirge, what’s more, a pronouncement, that life as we know it faces an uncertain and altogether different future, that our humanity faces serious threat. I know this is a tall order; please bear with me, because we will need to take this to the very end…

Read the whole piece at The Hairsplitter.