RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksAs monumental and as comprehensive as the Collected Poems is, How to Carry Water may do Clifton’s work greater service. In addition to including 10 new poems not in the Collected, this slim but substantial volume streamlines Clifton’s strongest work, enabling readers to better see and enjoy the micro and macro impact of her astonishing career ... To its credit, How to Carry Water manages to do an excellent job representing the wide spectrum of Clifton’s poetics ... Missing are some classics ... Their absence is inexplicable to me, but at least all are easily available on the internet ... Intentionally or not, these lacunae do a different kind of work in that they allow equally strong (but lesser known) poems to shine. With fewer poems competing for a reader’s attention, it is easier to see patterns emerge across Clifton’s oeuvre ... Clifton’s poems are witty, conversational, and self-reflexive ... Clifton’s greatness lies in her poems’ directionalities. Because we can read her work in reverse to the Harlem Renaissance, but also because we can read her forward, to now, to a day she did not live into.
Edited by Joy Harjo
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of Books... a remarkable collection and a vital addition to the vast Norton anthology lineup ... the most inclusive and the most comprehensive anthology of Native American poetry to date ... an unusual anthology in that it seems to have no interest in individual canonicity. It prioritizes genealogy over gatekeeping. Or, put another way, the anthology is less about poets and more about poems, which aligns with much Native aesthetic production ... Harjo, Howe, and Foerster have done a marvelous job demonstrating how Indigenous poetry is a not a banner but a quilt ... In addition to scope, the editors make other fascinating editorial decisions. One is the book’s arrangement. Instead of presenting the poets chronologically, this collection is organized by region ... Allowing the poems of the regions to have conversations with these events (and each other) accentuates shared experiences. It makes the subtle argument that Indigenous America is a nation of many nations. There are macro convergences, yes, but there are also discrete regional particularities ... in all honesty, wherever one opens the book, one will encounter a poem that feels urgent, timely, necessary ... Harjo, Howe, and Foerster have put together a fantastic anthology when it comes to reading and teaching, but when it comes to reviewing, there is virtually nothing scandalous for me to write about, even though, in the last decade, big poetry anthologies have emerged as lightning rods of controversy and criticism ... What makes this particular anthology unique (and useful) is its reluctance to play the hierarchy game or the poetic school game or the identity game. Harjo’s organizing principle appears to be equal parts generosity and pedagogy ... decenters the individual author and his or her accomplishments in favor of supporting an entire community. Rather than an assemblage of solos, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through is a chorus. And right now, we need as many powerful voices in union as we can get.
RaveKenyon Review... remarkable ... these obits take the genre in an entirely new direction—Chang inverts the impersonal third person perspective, creating a reliable/unreliable first-person speaker who mourns and commemorates the death of a variety of ideas, objects, emotions, and people ... We know we are in the hands of a master. Restrictions in form can often lead to aesthetic and thematic liberation, and I was wholly engrossed by how much Chang accomplishes within the confines of the obituary’s obituary-ness—whether it’s the intense justified verticality to the use of dates, to the mix of objective and subjective intelligence ... That these poems do such complete work with so few tools from the poetry toolbox is humbling. Each poem is a masterwork of compression and compassion ... One of the many marvelous accomplishments of this book is how Chang makes private mourning and public mourning part of the same process.