Category Archives: I Don’t Like

Briefly Reviewed: Hicok, Estes, Kasischke

Brief reviews of Elegy Owed by Bob Hicok, Space, in Chains by Laura Kasischke, and Tryst by Angie Estes.

Bob Hicok’s Elegy Owed

I really like Hicok’s sensibility in this new collection, the diction mix, the word play, the self-consciousness, and the honesty that holds it all together. Many of the poems have sentences that run on a long time, over many lines (or the entire poem is one sentence) and the best of them unspool through subject after subject, turning sometimes on word play, sometimes on dark humor, sometimes on metaphor, loose in the sense athletes or musicians talk about being loose when they’re at their best. Continue reading

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White / Arthur / Willis

Brief reviews of The Salt Ecstasies by James L. White (1982), Charms Against Lightning by James Arthur (2012), and Blood Sisters of the Republic by Wendy Willis (2012).

James L. White’s The Salt Ecstasies is a gorgeous book full of beautiful, difficult longing. Its artful passion is simply excellent. The poems are both explicit and humble, (“Sometimes I’m their first. / Sweet, sweet men. / I light candles, burn the best incense. / Make them think it’s some kind of temple / and it rather is.”) and the general passion and exquisite human feeling speaks through them all (“In this joyous season I know my heart won’t die / as you and the milk pods open their centers / like a first snow in its perfection of light. // Good love is like this. / Even the smell of baked bread won’t make it better, / this being out of myself for a while.”).  Continue reading

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2012: A Short Look Back at What I Watched

I’m such a huge fan of movies, and taking a look now, boy did I see a lot of ’em this year! Here’s a sampling of the best and worst I watched this year:

Best 2012 Movie: (bearing in mind that I haven’t seen Lincoln or Beasts of the Southern Wild yet) A neck-and-neck tie between Moonrise Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook. Moonrise Kingdom is such an immersive, total world, a world you want to live in, with all its quirky quixotic romantic characters, and its nostalgic colors and its delicious soundtrack. But Silver Linings Playbook, which I just saw today, is such an alive movie, and it moves you from laughing hard to nearly crying without jerking you around, or feeling contrived or unrealistic. So the tie Continue reading

The Lichtenberg Figures

Ben Lerner‘s 2003 Hayden Carruth Award-winning collection The Lichtenberg Figures is one of those that illuminates, for me, the difference between well-written and good.

The poems, all untitled, are almost all 14 lines, nominally sonnets. Like a lot of other folks these days, Lerner uses collage, repetition, puns, mash-ups of language (erudite & slang, high-falutin’ & jargon, academic & plain), juxtaposition, and rapid shifts throughout.

For instance,

The thinkable goes sobbing door-to-door
in search of predicates accessible by foot.
But sense is much shorter in person
and retreats from chamber to antechamber to text.

How then to restructure a premise like a promise?

Continue reading

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