Book Review: “Illocality,” by Joseph Massey

massey.illocality.for_website_grande

Joseph Massey mentions in the refreshingly spare notes of his fourth collection Illocalitythat he first encountered his title word in the Emily Dickinson poem “A nearness to Tremendousness.” Dickinson is an apt predecessor for a poet of such deliberate cerebralness. Yet, for his fine command of image, so is William Carlos Williams, or any number of Asian short-form poets. Indeed it is the relationship between logic and image, mind and world, that drives these poems so evenly through their inquiries, that most characterizes their productive tensions. “We think / ourselves here,” Massey writes to close the opening poem “Parse.”

Read the review at NewPages

Advertisements

Book Review, “Testament,” by G. C. Waldrep

51ow7DiC-5L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

“The body as sculpture,” Testament—G. C. Waldrep’s book-length poem—begins, and with it we feel the steadying gesture that prefaces any great feat—fingers at one’s temples, eyes closed, the breath held. He goes on:

The body as sculpture. (Pageant, labyrinth.)
Wrapped like Central Park or Marin
in Christo’s silk, wiving into a future
of minerals and taffeta, hypocausts and gorse.
We have computers to calculate the rocket’s
rate of descent, its pure metaphor.

And we see right away what sort of virtuosity—one hundred and thirty pages of it—lies before us. . .

Read the review at NewPages

Book Review: “a/0,” by Laura Bylenok

41cgKZs8CBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Hemmed in by questions, suspended over days that mete out incremental evidence, with an investigative protagonist alternating between the archive and the street, this little chapbook—a/0—is an exemplar of the detective genre. But it is so much stranger than most. One wants to say Pynchon or Murakami. No usual suspects here, and the universe is not what you think.

Read the review at NewPages.

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

51m2+ihKzyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

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

Universe_Giant_4

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

512ZIPfm5nL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

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

Book cover, Sylph, Abigail Cloud

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