Genève Chao reviews “The Missing Museum” by Amy King

 

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Amy King’s irascible and incantatory sprawlfest, The Missing Museum, which won the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Prize (a fact which alone makes it the Heavyweight Champ of World Poetry as that year’s TS Prize anointed literal dozens of books of astonishing breadth and beauty as finalists and semifinalists), begins with a one-poem prologue/manifesto, the beautiful, frustrating “Wake Before Dawn & Salt the Sea,” which reads like a sonnet that refuses to restrain itself to quite the syllables required and yet still manages to convey precision and restraint, and which tells a reader everything about poetry: explicitly, that it is useless, it is fuckworthy, it is love; implicitly, it is the only choice that can be made by this glib, driven, passionate, jaded speaker, or anyone with any intelligence and heart. It is a warning and a dare: “We are not edges of limbs or the heart’s smarts only.” It is a fitting introduction to this book of poems that, as it demands, wrestle and make love, and which unsurprisingly leave the reader breathless, dazzled, exhausted, and slightly bruised. Continue reading

Tobias Wray reviews Susan Firer’s Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People

firer-susan.jpgFor many poets, place is more than physical or lyrical proximity. Place can be an impetus, the inspiration for how and why their verse goes where it does. But, where it begins and where it ends is something of a protean contract between poet and process, between reader and time. We humans are ever locating ourselves. The recent discovery of a potentially habitable world orbiting, as Susan Firer calls it in a new poem, our “next nearest star,” reminds us how much imagination is at play in place: despite the facts, that this planet has no seasons, an 11-day year, that the sky is likely the general color of orangutans, etc., the news exploded with headlines translating those findings into hope, the Most Earth-like Planet Has Been Found! It seems we care most about places we can imagine being in, inhabiting. Continue reading

Michael Wendt reviews CULTURE OF ONE by Alice Notley

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Culture of One by Alice Notley Penguin Poets $18

The opening of the 21st century has been marked by a series of cultural self-realizations. Most notably: that our material culture has irrevocably altered the planet in ways we still can’t imagine or quantify, and that our socioeconomic culture is—and always has been—built upon the oppression and marginalization of countless people. Not to say that these are new problems, only that they’ve attained wider and more mainstream attention in recent years. It’s worth bearing all of this in mind when encountering Alice Notley’s Culture of One. Continue reading