PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewHer hope is tentative, hedging. Limón’s consolations are small but strong, and when her poems look to the future, it’s usually in the service of creating a connection in the here and now ... That \'you\' is all important in Limón’s work — a wide-open beloved who is us, of course. Such a capacious embrace is a consolation, and it’s no mean literary feat ... The Hurting Kind, strikes me as a transitional work, less certain of itself and its purpose than its predecessor, but also trying some new things, including longer poems ... There are a few poems that don’t quite fly, landing too soon on a sentimental or overly hopeful conclusion or overreaching for emotional heft ... And yet, I soon find myself forgetting my little qualms, so grateful am I for Limón’s powerfully observant eye. There are many wonderful poems here and a handful of genuine masterpieces ... It’s music — Limón’s excellent ear for the rhythms of speech and the sounds of sentences ... If Limón sometimes looks too hard for the bright side, it’s because she acknowledges the darkness everywhere. It’s only when a poet pretends that the mysteries of the unspeakable can be solved with words, that language can and should take the uncertainty out of the questions, that poems fail. Limón, though she is sometimes guilty of optimism, has no such illusions.
RaveNPRThe first poetry collection in almost two decades from Forché...is an undisputed literary event. Forché\'s poems—ever earnest, forcefully compassionate, often solemn—bear witness to the suffering of others...often looking beyond America\'s borders, while holding America to account for the global consequences of its actions ... Cast in long-lined couplets, free verse sequences, and jagged stanzas, Forché\'s best poems—and this new book contains some of them — speak as a kind of generalized conscience, \'someone standing in the aftermath,\' heavy with guilt, but also lit by a strange hope that stems from an unshakable belief in human goodness and perseverance.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewHass is almost 80 and I am entering middle age; I’ve got two kids, have had my brushes with fortune and misfortune, am deeply angry and dismayed about the state of America, and I find that Hass’s poems move at exactly the speed I need and make a hell of a lot of sense. He writes poetry for grown-ups, and, alas, I have become one ... a book that looks meaningfully back on the long life it took to write it ... It’s a big book, but never feels exhaustive or overstuffed. Some may find that Hass has grown too comfy in his effusive style and his old lefty politics but to me it all sounds like mastery, like singular virtuosity attained on a very popular instrument — common American speech ... Summer Snow is rife with elegies. It’s something of a Who’s Who of great writers who have died in recent decades ... The unthinking cruelty of fate is too vast and unfathomable to summarize or explain, so Hass just sits with it with us, aghast, stumped and sad, but also unwilling to leave us behind or be left alone with all that weight ... Yes, life is a breath, and what kills us is never actually what kills us, and the fabric of our days dissolves, leaving only paltry lists of achievements ... Of course I had no idea what Hass was talking about when I was 20, no idea that he had anything to offer me. But he does now, and when I return to this book in 20 years, or in 40 if I’m so lucky, it will still be waiting for me, with something new to say.
RaveNPR... one of the most important books of poetry to come along in years. In a tapestry of forms and modes, it chronicles a mother\'s harrowing and courageous passage through a psychic gauntlet ... With equal parts hope and terror, and no self-delusion, this book summons the kind of love only the imagination can sustain.
RaveNPR... casts an undeniably critical eye on the kinds of policies — and people — Trump tends to support ... Her poems are accessible and easy to read, but making them no less penetrating and powerful, spoken from a deep and timeless source of compassion for all — but also from a very specific and justified well of anger ... a stark reminder of what poetry is for and what it can do: how it can hold contradictory truths in mind, how it keeps the things we ought not to forget alive and present.
Carmen Gimenéz Smith
RaveNPR[Smith\'s] most ambitious book to date ... [a] fierce and undaunted voice that speaks her poems ... a powerful allegiance to the freedom of free verse ... At the center of the book is the title poem, an extraordinary drifting dirge that swallows everything it can from memory, the imagination, and the culture at large to speak publicly and personally as a person of color in today\'s America, alternately cynical, triumphant, and wary.
RaveNPR\"...extraordinary ... Written with a thriller writer\'s knack for narrative tension and a poet\'s gorgeous sentences and empathy ... Forché paints a beautiful and chilling portrait of pre-war El Salvador ... In Forché\'s stark rendering — she struggles at first to accept what she sees, and then her vision gains a camera\'s coldness — all of this is simply heart-stopping, and feels utterly present, utterly pressing.\
RaveNPRLittle Boy starts out surprisingly as a memoir, recounting, in a sort of charming third person, Ferlinghetti\'s earliest years ... In this mode, Ferlinghetti has a playful way of recounting his origins, revealing his story as sad, lucky, and symptomatic of a particular early 20th century moment ... the book suddenly, and rather strangely, abandons all pretext of order, careening into an unpunctuated and rarely paragraphed free-associating diatribe ... Ferlinghetti maintains this unrelenting mental deluge, scraping the furthest edges of his memory and imagination, like a socially conscious John Ashbery on Benzedrine ... It\'s as if the author got a little ways in, abruptly tired of the rigors of organizing his memories into prose and gave up. It\'s also as if he joyfully abandoned himself to the frothing appetite of his wild Beat muse ... Ferlinghetti\'s wits are afire, his wisdom is wide and deep, and this little book is packed with incredible sentences, even if it\'s short on story.
RaveNPR\" ... extraordinary ... Love poems... are mingled with poems of grief-stricken horror... and protest... as the book winds toward its dark conclusion. Re-envisioning disability as power and silence as singing, Kaminsky has created a searing allegory precisely tuned to our times, a stark appeal to our collective conscience.\
Sally Wen Mao
PositiveNPR\"In her stunning second collection, Mao stages a searing ventriloquy act, inhabiting a very specific group of otherwise voiceless speakers: Asian and Asian American woman who have been stereotyped and reduced to cliché in films, photographs, and TV shows ... Throughout, Mao seeks to correct the mistakes the camera encourages the viewer to make...\
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewRich’s poems are full of warnings against forgetting the past, against pretending one has escaped it ... She urges a profound kind of ambivalence: Proceed with caution, looking over your shoulder, and somehow simultaneously with fierce abandon ... The notion of the outsider is central to Rich’s thinking, a key that opens subjects ranging from literature to feminism to politics, which...are all effortlessly—and necessarily—interwoven. Rich reframes classic literature through a feminist lens ... Rich offers me a powerful and necessary reminder of the continuous self-reflection required to fight ignorance—one’s own and others’. We need to reread [Rich], especially now ... the poems, with luminous metaphor and embodiment, lit the way through the historical darkness ... a piercingly clear and authoritative voice ... a summation of one of the great careers in American letters, a profound and beautiful call to think, and feel, and fight.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"... Rich, in her seminal poems and essays, took this reimagining [of female identity] as her central subject. She explodes the very idea of gender the way that James Baldwin, in Notes of a Native Son, did with race ... Rich offers me a powerful and necessary reminder of the continuous self-reflection required to fight ignorance — one’s own and others’. We need to reread [Rich\'s] books, especially now ... Rich made it her mission to expose herself — and her readers — to the facts of patriarchy and racism that had made her, and which are still woven deeply into American identity. Many of these essays could have been written tomorrow ... It is in the essays that Rich makes her most imperative and lasting statements ... Rich’s essays draw ever closer to her own and her readers’ conscience.\
A.R. Ammons & Robert M. West
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesIn his poems — all of which are collected in these two long-awaited, definitive volumes — we get to watch someone brilliant and deeply capacious thinking through everything he encounters … With Ammons, one feels more like one is in the presence of a capital-P poet, someone at a desk, or sitting on a bench under a tree, who is busy pontificating, although perfectly sociable and friendly, with a bit of a wink and a grin and a healthy helping of informality … For an undeniably major poet, Ammons was unusually funny, slippery and tricky. He was particularly expert on two kinds of poems — really short ones and really long ones … His great poems — and some of them are truly among the greatest of the second half of the 20th century — manage to take the most cosmic and abstract long view and simultaneously observe the world at hand with startling specificity.
RaveBookforum...argues in his new book, An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic, Homer’s classic may be, more than anything else, a family saga ... This is not a book with a set destination, or a scene of definitive recognition. It is, instead, an adventure in criticism and in familial reckoning, showing us a writer who searches for but never entirely finds his father ...tells the story of how he and his father get to know each other in the last year of his father’s life, between 2011 and 2012, when Daddy decides to audit his son’s undergraduate seminar on The Odyssey ...takes us through The Odyssey alongside his class, explicating the poem book by book, quoting his students, his father, and his own constantly evolving thoughts and observations. Meanwhile, he flashes back to his childhood and youth, drawing rich comparisons between his and his father’s journeys and those of Odysseus and Telemachus.
MixedThe Los Angeles TimesLerner is often very funny as a critic, and whether or not one agrees, this book is a pleasure to read ... The Hatred of Poetry may represent Lerner’s own uneasy coming to terms with his ambivalence around his art form, but it tells me very little about mine, and, I’d bet, that of most poetry lovers. As for the haters, I don't believe in them — no one hates poetry, though many people are indifferent to it, and this book won't change that.
RaveThe Los Angeles Times[Dove] is less read and discussed, at least among younger readers, than she deserves to be. Collected Poems 1974-2004, which contains almost all of Rita Dove’s poetry, should change that and give posterity’s short memory a much-needed jolt. This is an absolutely astounding body of work ... Her poems give equal weight to the inner and outer lives, to the unfolding of consciousness from one moment to the next and to history, which is encoded in language like DNA. The lyric beauty of Dove's poems makes them unforgettable; their deep knowledge of history and its ongoing consequences makes them permanent.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...only Graham has synthesized all of the available strains — the ageless tradition of poetic contemplation; the half-century trend toward self-revelation; the mischievous, self-conscious cynicism about the very proposition of meaningful language — into a style that reflects the real world back, gives powerful moral commentary and makes our hair stand a bit on end because something real glows in each of her poems. Graham is to post-1980 poetry what Bob Dylan is to post-1960 rock: She changed her art form, moved it forward, made it able to absorb and express more than it could before. It permanently bears her mark ... Graham risks alienating her readers by going above their heads or too far into her own. At times, especially in the long, many-sectioned poems of the late 1990s and early aughts, Graham can seem almost incomprehensible. Yet this is a symptom of artistic courage and growth: Graham has been fearless about her own artistic development. She’s gone wherever the poems have led her ... Graham is one of our great poets. Her words will long outlast all of this chatter.
RaveNPRThe long, dense poems of her third book snake their way through the anxieties of new motherhood in the age of terror and rampant viruses ('my thermometer is digital and pink/ and its beep is my name/ being read from the book of life'), the buying of baby furniture, how 'Everyone has a cousin Benjamin Bunny,' and the trials of suburban neighborliness. It sounds tame, but it's not. Schiff can wake the ordinary, making it alien and widely alive, with the subtlest flick of a word.
Juan Felipe Herrera
RaveNPR“Concurrent with his assumption of the Laureateship is his new book, Notes on the Assemblage, which shows off this writer's many strengths and varied capacities. It's a grab-bag of different poetic styles and modes, packed with humor, expansive delivery, and the kind of political fervor that is deeply rooted in the personal.”