Book Review: “The Animal Too Big to Kill,” by Shane McCrae

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A new era of civil rights protest is here. #BlackLivesMatter announces a new racial consciousness locked on highly public injustices, police violence caught on dash cam videos and decried on Twitter, weeks-long street demonstrations helicoptered over and fed into living rooms via live streams. With the muscular momentum of wider discord, It stomps a foot in the dirt, showing us the hard truth that racism in America is as strong as ever, a brutally systemic force, at once blunt and complex.

It is into this outraged public consciousness that Shane McCrae’s prodigious output of poems (four collections in the past five years) occurs and must be received. Read some of the titles of the present collection, The Animal Too Big to Kill, and this protest is confirmed — titles such as “What it Takes to Get the Attention of White Liberals” and “I Know It’s Hard For You to Believe You Still Benefit from Slavery,” which evidence a deep awareness of the context in which these poems will be read and gesture a distinct stance — one of provocation and protest — toward that context.

So it is surprising that such a collection would begin like this:

I haven’t Lord I haven’t You I have-
n’t praised enough You Lord although I with or would
With every poem praise you

Read the review at Bookslut

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Book Review: “Justice,” by TOMAŽ ŠALAMUN

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Tomaž Šalamun was one of those rare artists who got to live — at least a little bit — in his own legacy. When he died at the very end of 2014, poets — American poets, especially — were quick to gather in a circle around this legacy, writing words of praise and admiration that were not simply eulogies but reassertions of Šalamun’s crucial role in the experimentalist impulse that has so gripped American poetry in the past two decades.

But Šalamun didn’t just live in his own legacy — he worked in it. . .

Read the review at Bookslut