Reviews

on Brass by Xhenet Aliu

on Brass by Xhenet Aliu

When I described Xhenet Aliu’s Brass to a friend as a story about a teenage girl’s complicated relationship with her single mother, she said, “I’m not really a fan of mother-daughter stories.” We parted ways soon after, and I walked the three blocks to my apartment reflecting on my friend’s quick dismissal, . . .

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on Cherokee Road Kill by Celia Bland

on Cherokee Road Kill by Celia Bland

Cherokee Road Kill is an important book written by a poet in command of her craft. I first met Celia Bland some years ago in a workshop with the marvelous Jean Valentine, and she shares a few of Valentine’s great virtues, perhaps foremost her commitment to getting the truth down on the page. . . .

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Naming the Absence

Naming the Absence

As I am writing this in the summer of 2018, more than two thousand migrant children are being kept at the U.S.-Mexico border and around the United States, separated from their families, as pawns in a cruel political agenda. Doctors and healthcare professionals have spoken publicly about the long-term, irreversible physical and psychological effects of the “toxic stress” detainees experience. . . .

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Southerners, Snakes, and Me 

Southerners, Snakes, and Me 

[an excerpt]

 

Men and women are not only themselves, Somerset Maugham writes in The Razor’s Edge (1944), “they are also the region in which they were born, the city or apartment or the farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, . . .

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on Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

on Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

In Oceanic, her luminous fourth collection of poems, Aimee Nezhukumatathil concludes with the image of “a child stepping / out of a fire, shoes / still shiny and clean.” 

I encountered this mysterious image on a day in mid-February, 2018. As the temperature hovered at a record-smashing seventy degrees, . . .

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on James Wright: A Life in Poetry by Jonathan Blunk

on James Wright: A Life in Poetry by Jonathan Blunk

Every biography—in a way, every book—invites readers to examine their own lives, the more we share with their subjects the more so. Jonathan Blunk’s James Wright: A Life in Poetry, the authorized biography of the brilliant, troubled, and influential American poet from my adopted home state of Ohio, . . .

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on Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

on Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar’s debut poetry collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, is about the essential consequences of incarnation, is a sensory catalog of wounds and wonders, vices and pleasures. His poems—fragmented, plaintive, at points frantic—are occupied with what it means to be a spirit and a mind haunted by their physical baggage and delighted by their physical inheritance—or, . . .

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on June in Eden by Rosalie Moffett

on June in Eden by Rosalie Moffett

Poets have been lamenting the recalcitrance of language at least since Byron’s Childe Harold complained in the early nineteenth century that he had not found “words which are things.” Approaching the midpoint of the twentieth, T. S. Eliot observed in “Burnt Norton” how

     Words strain,

Crack and sometimes break, . . .

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