Five Poets Who Changed My Life

I hate the idea of “life changing.” It’s terrifying! Who wants to consider their life as a serendipitous bricolage rather than a carefully considered plan? But one must repay good fortune with gratitude, and in that spirit, I thank these poets for their roles in my life. Tom Sleigh I’ve never told Tom this, but… read more

Two Books by Timothy Liu

Ever prolific, Timothy Liu published two books in 2009, one a collaboration with the visual artist Greg Drasler, the other a collection of his own poems. Liu’s work continues its seamless flow of syntax and phrase, his signature style the way the poems tumble forward in an almost Ashbery-ian effortlessness.  Liu is a master of… read more

'Sweet Core Orchard' by Benjamin Grossberg

Benjamin Grossberg’s second collection of poems is a book about writing—about writing’s processes and demands and possibilities.  The volume tends towards contemplations of contemplation, and its best, it’s riveting.  The book opens “Always the script, the dramatic comma,/ the pointed ellipsis, half turn, beat, the exit/ itself as punctuation.  Let’s say the back wall/ of the house fell… read more

'The Heart's Traffic' by Ching-In Chen

Chen hasn’t settled on a single voice or form, and the one can feel the poet’s excitement at trying out the possibilities of writing poems as the book takes us through prose poems, a villanelle, a renga, a sestina, a double sestina, zuihitsus, crowns of seven, a ghazal, a haibun, a pantoum, free verse, a… read more

'Please' by Jericho Brown

Brown is a generous writer—he never forgets his audience, never turns his back or forgets that you’ve paid your admission.  He starts by explaining himself, opening the collection with an ars poetica, “Track 1: Lush Life.”  It begins, “The woman with the microphone sings to hurt you” (7).   Like one of Dante’s tormented, he has… read more