PositiveThe Arts FuseRankine thinks associatively rather than sequentially, so the book is episodic rather than arranged as an argument or a narrative with a narrative arc like, say, Ibram Kendi’s polemic ... Rankine is more like a disgruntled but interesting guest at a dinner party who keeps turning the conversation back to subjects that make others uncomfortable but are well worth talking about and seriously examining ... It should be noted here that she calls the book \'a conversation,\' and you may find yourself arguing with her. Aren’t there many beautiful Black celebrities, from Beyoncé to Lupita Nyong’o? She considers hair-straightening and Black women who bleach their hair blond and wonders what that might mean. She doesn’t always have answers to these questions ... Once you’ve read Just Us, order a copy of 2014’s Citizen: An American Lyric.
RaveArtsfuse... we can trace Joseph’s development as a poet and see how his verse grows more complex and meaningful both in terms of what he writes about the world we live in today and what he says about the role of poetry in our lives ... understated but concisely descriptive ... Joseph’s poetry distills our puzzlement at a society that is increasingly baffling. We don’t know what we can do about the growing onslaught of violence and irrationality, particularly now, when our country is led by an immoral con man who doesn’t even understand the world around us, but who is influencing it to ill effect ... He writes poetry that is genuinely bold and vital and that deserves a wide audience. There is a long-standing argument in poetry. Does poetry matter? Joseph is making the case through his writing that poetry does indeed matter.
MixedThe Arts FuseEliza Griswold walks this tightrope, sometimes successfully, other times, not. But because her poems often take place in war zones, she’s always provocative — even when she is tendentious ... Not all is earnest here, but Griswold’s sense of humor is uneven — it comes across most successfully in \'Reflection.\' She includes a sequence of poems about Italy that are not as involving as those set in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, If Men, Then is well worth reading by those who believe that poetry has something to tell us about our many internal and external conflicts.
PanThe Somerville TimesStephen King once said that the problem with being famous is that you’ll drink your own Kool-Aid and believe everything you write is good because you wrote it. In Evolution, Myles suffers from both of these problems ... Is this poetry or a journal entry? Is it interesting? She is writing about being famous I guess ... Myles is using the line breaks with one, or two word lines to create surprise but really there just isn’t much going on here. I was looking forward to reading Evolution but I could have made better use of my time by say, cleaning my room or taking a nap.
PositiveThe Arts FuseA.E. Stallings,...you may not appreciate everything she writes, but there is no doubt that you are reading serious verse, and that she is both inventive and adept. She is also witty and erudite. She takes on a wide range of subjects, from toys to crows to Greek mythology (she has written translations and is a classics scholar) ... despite its occasional confusions, Like is a book I will return to — to re-experience Stallings’ esprit, intelligence, and word-smithing.