RaveThe Guardian (UK)The 208 pages form a wonderfully compendious introduction to this major US poet. For those who have admired his work in the three decades since his debut, they are glowing confirmation that, as he enters his 60s, Phillips is writing better than ever ... The selection from earlier books that follows now reads as part of a single project of the utmost immediacy.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewNo sense of the merely dutiful constrains Making Darkness Light ... Moshenska takes as his chapter headings significant dates in the poet’s life, along with titles of his poems and phrases from his verse. They structure Moshenska’s account, which unfolds as a series of set pieces or freeze frames ... Bridging Milton’s double trajectory—as both a poet and a political and religious thinker—is one of the challenges a biographer must address. Moshenska does so in two ways. His first and less successful strategy, initiated in his introduction, is to pursue the idea that poor sight could have encouraged his subject to see through or beyond the quotidian ... More interesting is the way he brings both aspects of his subject’s life together under the rubric of writing ... several fictional passages...replace close readings of supporting evidence—from correspondence to household bills—as to what kind of man Milton may have been, and serve only to make us feel that the book is not so much a distillation of research as a self-portrait of the don as creative writer ... Making Darkness Light chooses the ground it highlights, and comes alive in its alert close readings. However, Moshenska’s use of fictional elements in his discussion of Milton’s life is less effective ... literary biography should be based on a scrupulous, trustworthy close reading of evidence both literary and biographical.
Euripides, Anne Carson, Illustrated by Rosanna Bruno
RaveThe Guardian (UK)It’s a joy to come across a mistress of the art taking rumbustious pleasure in revisiting the matter of poetry itself ... Simultaneously straight-talking and experimental, the Canadian has been reclaiming the classical tradition as an essential resource since the 1980s ... her writing remains as fierce as ever. At this #MeToo moment protesting against the objectification of women, her Trojan women are drawn as literally animal, the spoils of war ... Carson’s purposeful play bypasses nostalgia for the kind of traditional forms on display in another creative revisioning.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)Runaway was completed before the pandemic, but its capacious understanding makes it as able to speak to this as to climate breakdown and global suffering ... She’s not the first to do so ... But she’s doing it with urgency and an attention so exceptional it comes out as tenderness ... Sweeping lines and fractured phrases, ampersands and italics, lines unexpectedly justified right: all of these wake us up to \'the freshness of what’s / there.\'
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)... a six-part volume of poems, many short, which often feel fractured or seem to struggle with what they have to say. But there’s nothing tricksy about this intimate, tender free verse. As Hirshfield’s title poem tells us, the most important measure of anything is its meaning, and Ledger is a compassionate look at – and yes, elegy for – \'our catalogued vanishing unfinished heaven\' ... Hirshfield perfectly captures our individual sense of lostness, faced with undeniable catastrophe, while invoking our collective responsibility.
RaveThe Spectator (UK)It’s not just that Doty is an extraordinarily fine writer whose every word sings on the page ... sharp autobiographical vignettes ... What is the Grass resolves the problem that ‘Whatever the dead did or did not do in bed is largely irrecoverable’ by returning to the poetry itself ... In place of the slightly persecutory work of biographical detection, then, Doty substitutes the pleasures of reading. And this multifaceted book is among many things a memoir of reading itself: of returning to a body of work that has been of enormous importance to the author and showing not only how astonishing it is, but how much it has shaped his own life ... This is an exceptional, passionate memoir of reading, and of a poet’s lifelong work of understanding self and the world.
RaveThe New Statesman (UK)Andrew Miller’s eighth novel consolidates his track record as a distinguished, much-awarded novelist who specialises in historical writing. But there is nothing merely consolidatory about this book. It is a profound exploration of culpability, written in prose that comes singing off the page ... the novel is no worthy, schematic churn through a series of ethical options, but a pacy thriller. It throws out its big ideas with such lightness of touch that it’s only afterwards that the reader feels their sting. Miller writes with a unique mixture of charge and luminosity ... All the book’s perceptions are deftly given to his characters, with the double result that the observations feel peculiarly intimate, and the characters themselves come vividly to life ... Miller is no conventional \'historical novelist\' but he has set all his fiction to date in an Elsewhere. To read any of his novels is to leave behind what we think we know ... this novel pulls the past close. What makes other times and places recognisable and relevant is the similarity to us of the people who inhabit them. Indeed, surely one of the most pressing ethical obligations of our own time and place is to recognise ourselves in the other. Miller’s latest novel is a compelling read and an important literary achievement, not least because it does just this.
RaveThe Guardian[Falling Awake] does not disappoint. Her characteristic, Ted Hughesian voice is in full song. Once again she delivers us from the quotidian, and offers instead a West Country landscape that is sometimes dreamlike, sometimes pure dream ... 'Meaning' is important in these poems, which lack much human population but are full of characters and experiences from the non-human world ... Fierce in the quality of her attention, often metaphorically dazzling, Oswald earns our trust through her authority.