Reviews

Da Capo al Coda

Da Capo al Coda

From the beginning, I knew there could be trouble: a box of cheeky new books on my doorstep, all dressed in their shiny covers, waiting to be read. All week I had been ranting about the contemporary world—its lack of tradition, its misuse of grammar, its insidious technologies. One television ad talked about the motel’s recent “refresh.” I was certain those brash new books would be full of such travesties, . . .

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on The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

on The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

Leslie Jamison puts her personal anguish on display in her debut book of essays, The Empathy Exams. She doesn’t shy away from the suffering of others, either. This focus on pain may be the collection’s most obvious feature, but it doesn’t strike me as its most important. As Jamison says of herself, . . .

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on Annotated Glass by Alyse Knorr

on Annotated Glass by Alyse Knorr

This striking first collection explores love and loss through a series of linked poems that dramatizes the experiences of a young woman named Alice. The name of the heroine of Annotated Glass echoes the author’s name in a generative misspeaking that is one of the book’s dominant modes of pleasure and propulsion. . . .

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When the River Is Ice

When the River Is Ice

It’s 2014, the 100th anniversary of William Stafford’s birth, and people all over the country are celebrating his life and work. Why Stafford, I wonder, when I don’t remember so much interest in 100th anniversaries for Theodore Roethke, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman? In three years, will there be this resurgence of interest in Robert Lowell? . . .

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Time, Story, and Lyric in Contemporary Poetry

Time, Story, and Lyric in Contemporary Poetry

After reading recent books of poetry by Patricia Smith, Robert Wrigley, David Kirby, and Cathy Park Hong, one might be surprised to know that even the best of contemporary critics tend to devalue narrative poetry in favor of the lyric. After all, not only are these four books very good—they all employ narrative.  . . .

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The Many Lives of Sylvia Plath

The Many Lives of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath, arguably the greatest female poet of the twentieth century, has been the object of much biographical scrutiny, the more so because her suicide at age thirty seems inextricably bound up with her finest work and because, more generally, her life and writing have been the cause of much controversy. . . .

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