PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewSmith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we’re alone in the universe; it’s to accept — or at least endure — the universe’s mystery ... Smith’s pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant ... The end of Life on Mars is less successful than the beginning ... Smith’s desire to write about injustice is commendable, but her approach can be haphazard ... Life on Mars concludes with another group of poems on miscellaneous subjects, but here the concerns are more lighthearted, personal and domestic ... There are certainly some fine poems here — \'When Your Small Form Tumbled Into Me\' is a gorgeous and ecstatic sonnet — but after the intensity and focus of the opening sequences, some of these poems feel like also-rans ... In Life on Mars, Smith shows herself to be a poet of extraordinary range and ambition. It’s not easy to be so convincing in both the grand gesture and the reverent contemplation of a humble plate of eggs, and the early successes of this collection far outweigh its later missteps.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...like John Ashbery, a clear influence, Prikryl is most fascinated by the unpredictable zigs and zags of an imagination in motion, and language’s laughable (but reliably amusing) incapacity to map that course precisely ... Prikryl is throwing an after party for the 20th century, with irony and tautology providing the entertainment.