RaveSan Francisco Chronicle\"The collection includes greatest hits from her previous five books and ends with 20 new odes to her complicated, unpredictable mother, an ER nurse from the Depression era. From formal sonnets to narrative sequences, Laux’s rhythmic lines merge song with story and illuminate the nature of grief and loss ... Laux anchors her poems in sensory details, transforming simple acts into lyric moments ... Laux’s language is precise and clear as she bears witness to the untamed within and without. She explores the complex, lived experience of longing ... We’re lucky. Only as the Day Is Long gives us Laux’s lyric powers evolving over the course of her career, resonant with courage and compassion.\
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle\"Aimee Nezhukumatathil sings an ode to earth and sea in her stunning fourth collection, Oceanic (Copper Canyon; $17). Sensual and vivid, her poems invite us deep into the water ... Her images are lush with eroticism, always close to the body and its experience of wonder. She blurs the line between human and animal, casting herself (and her beloved) variously as a scallop, a whale shark, a penguin, a starfish. Such marvelous acts of transformation reshape us as we read.\
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleAs the prize-winning author of four collections, Zapruder has an impressive pedigree, but he’s refreshingly humble and direct here ... Believing all a poem requires is our full attention, Zapruder does skillful close readings of 'The Waste Land,' as well as work by Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson and other masters. He breaks down poems 'literally,' in accessible prose that clarifies their meanings ... Why Poetry casts its net wide and hauls in a splendid bounty. Zapruder quotes sources as diverse as Pope Francis, Pema Chödrön, Keats and Roxane Gay, and moves nimbly from French surrealism to Japanese haiku. He engages deeply with language and meaning and doesn’t shy away from crucial questions of ethics or politics, examining Audre Lorde on racial violence, Amiri Baraka on 9/11, Adrienne Rich on rape ... While intellectually rigorous, his chapters resonate because of currents of personal revelation running alongside the argument.
MixedThe San Francisco ChroniclePoetry Will Save Your Life proves an inconsistent read. Bialosky’s own poems are precise, spare and emotionally acute. She writes memoir scenes with a poet’s eye, recalling the immediate sensations of childhood ... Poetry Will Save Your Life wants the reader to believe in poetry as ardently as the author does. Occasionally, its tone verges on preachy, and the structure feels contrived. But Bialosky is at her best when writing about Plath.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleOdes confirms her as the reigning queen of confessional poetry. 'Ode' comes from the Greek aiedein (to sing or chant), and Olds sings her poems with dignity and humor, making a direct address to anatomy, expressing her uncensored delight in the body ... With an unflinching eye and a brazen gift for metaphor, Olds takes us on a tour of our bodies and behaviors ... Olds uncovers shame in order to dismantle it; she subverts cultural norms while illuminating the truth of our vulnerability and aging. Her work has always claimed sexuality as both natural and sacred. Now Odes merges the personal with the political to offer hope in a dark time.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicel...[an] astonishing debut ... Sharif casts the light of her imagination into the world’s darkest places: solitary prison cells, Guantanamo, graveyards where 'only mothers guard the nameless dead.' Skilled at irony, she crafts poems out of chirpy newspaper headlines and spins military lingo into black humor.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleVuong writes in the ecstatic mode, right up close to the body. 'In the body, where everything has a price,/ I was a beggar' the book begins, as a young boy spies on his father singing in the shower. The child enters that song and renders in vivid images the experience of war, dislocation and loneliness, trying to understand both his own suffering and the world’s ... These are love poems, erotic poems, songs of hunger that merge a child’s vulnerability with a man’s passion ... In Vuong’s Night Sky, the entry and exit wounds are real, torn open by gunshot and 'misfired' words, but his poems insist we can be made whole by rapture.