Category: Book Review

The Carp by Yun Wang

By | Book Review, Prose, Susan Kelly-DeWitt

Sometimes chance conspires and the laws of randomness cast good things in our direction at a time that seems exactly right. This is what happened to me this week, when I extracted from two giant reading piles—columns over four feet high, weaving even now a little precariously behind my desk—a thin chapbook by a poet …

No Window: Poetry, Memory, History

By | Arlene Weiner, Book Review, Prose

I recently returned from a trip to Greece, which has me thinking about Homer. Years ago I was astonished but convinced by the argument that the Iliad was not originally written, but was composed orally. Part of the evidence was gathered by Albert Lord, who journeyed through the Balkans and found men singing long traditional …

The Wonder of Unexpected Supply

By | Book Review, Prose

Intertextuality, allusion, remembered scraps of poetry: all gifts we didn’t know we needed till they arrived.  Three recent and very different, but all happy, examples: 1)  Here in the country, I’m getting to spend some time with my 25 year-old son for the first time in many months. The other night, I said something to …

Whitman in Sacramento

By | Book Review, Poetics, Prose, Susan Kelly-DeWitt

Last night I joined several other poets and an audience that crammed into an independent bookstore in my city. We were there to celebrate Uncle Walt—Whitman, that is. The host and organizer, a young poet who writes under the name of SliC (Stuart Livingston Canton), had assembled a range of readers from the poetry community, …

The Splendor of Letters

By | Book Review, Poetics, Prose, Susan Kelly-DeWitt

I’ve been reading The Splendor of Letters by Nicholas Basbane, absorbed by his stories of poets and writers connecting through time—of literature saved from obscurity or rescued from oblivion by translators, by booklovers, by fellow writers. I’ve also been inhabiting all those terrible times he details, when an entire culture’s writings have been obliterated—deliberate attempts …

Thinking About Irina Ratushinskaya

By | Book Review, Prose, Susan Kelly-DeWitt

I’m not quite sure what got me thinking about Irina Ratushinskaya recently but something did, and brought back how closely I followed her work during the Eighties; poets all over the world took her case very personally. Many of us wrote letters protesting her imprisonment and asking for her release. (Here is a link to …

Joyful Noise: An Anthology Of American Spiritual Poetry

By | Book Review, John Samuel Tieman, Prose

A Book Review by John Samuel Tieman

Here’s something new: an anthology that can be appreciated both as a collection of beautiful poems, and as an aesthetically pleasing textbook.

J.D. McClatchy’s Mercury Dressing

By | Book Review, John Samuel Tieman, Prose

A Book Review by John Samuel Tieman

When a poem is at its finest, it is concrete, set in time and place, specific yet transcendent. Like a hymn, it exists both in the voice and the soul, in the text and in the mind. By these means is it savored and remembered. Like that hymn, which transforms notes on a page to prayers on the tongue, so the true poem moves from craft on the page to emotions in the reader. One danger lies, ironically, in being too crafty, that moment when the poem calls attention to its cleverness, rather than its purpose.