RaveZYZZYVAHer stark, powerful poems are crafted so simply they seem effortless. Constructed largely of nouns and verbs...t’s hard to understand how they manage to evoke such a range of emotion. And yet they do, with a voice that at times seems like an old world prophet, at times like a Zen Master ... Unlike many other political poems, these have a quiet force, all the more powerful for their calm exposition—they unfold with what feels like an inevitable logic and build with a power that deepens with each stanza. In these poems, Hirshfield, a Zen practitioner, strikes the match to the doused robes of protest; this work will be anthologized, read and reread ... Her unique voice is not brand new, but honed, sharpened ... What emerges as one reads this book is a sense of mourning for what’s lost, and a piercing delight in what is left.
RaveZYZZYVABrown’s voice is nuanced, proud, and profound. His work has an offbeat formality, a love of rhyme and blues ... This little punch at the end occurs in many of Brown’s poems. They praise, they explicate, they beseech and beguile, but they won’t let you be. The book is a varied texture of canny observation, the political, and fierce, incantatory praise. The love poems are especially strong ... Sometimes, reading this book, the bursts of ecstasy and longing remind me of Christopher Smart; sometimes they remind me of no one but the poet himself, loving, longing and twisting in his being. The presence of the poet is inescapable ... The strength of his work is enhanced by Brown’s deftness with rhyme, by how well he uses it to underscore those punches.
RaveZYZZYVAReading Forrest Gander’s work makes the reader feel as if she’s entering a world larger than her own, one with a broader vocabulary, richer imagery, and a deeper understanding of the relationships between the ordinary and the unknowable. Sometimes one is baffled, but more often feels stretched, welcomed into a cherished complexity ... This journey from unspeakable pain to the shadow of a possibility of solace follows the strange logic of grief over time, and it does so with beauty, strangeness, and absolute control of the language that describes emotion that is out of control. To read Gander’s work is to expand your knowledge of the natural world (helminth parasites, a vulture-bone flute, cockchafer, crocodile scute, lechuguilla). And because of his background in geology, the formations of the natural world appear and are named—trachyte hoodoos, Panther Laccolith, for example. These send us to search out their meaning, pushing the bounds of what we know and see ... This is a book...that opens a deeper way of seeing and being in the world, inviting us to go back to it again and again.