PositiveThe Boston GlobeYou may find yourself feeling at home in the world that poet Patricia Lockwood surveys in her second collection — but getting comfortable could be another story ... In Lockwood’s world, the rules, roles, and requisites of sex, gender, and power have generously stretched their jurisdiction to preside over everything from the deepest reaches of nature to the most American pockets of pop culture (one poem with an unprintable title focuses on a hypersexualized Bambi). And her lines feel fresh but footed, with the studious curiosity of Marianne Moore, breathless adventures in anaphora that conjure Anne Waldman slapping \'Makeup on Empty Space,\' and the slightly sinister laugh lines so deftly deployed by young poets like Chelsey Minnis and Dorothea Lasky ... Funny and cutting — and not without its share of the inevitable missteps that come with exploring sketchy woods such as these — the poems of Motherland may be reflected in the Oakley lenses of bro culture, but they also magnify the vulnerability that gives machismo its purpose.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeWithout names, the bare leverage of family is exposed ... One of the Boys is a book about taking control, marking territory, and choosing sides; and Magariel knows how to make life beyond the reach of abuse seem distant enough not to see, if not impossible to imagine ... It’s a novel of short, blunt, often powerful sentences — some a bit too insistently doing their Ernest best to project a masculinity as still and arid as the Albuquerque air ... Magariel’s careful way of doling out these measured portions of beauty plays against the stalling stiffness of his prose elsewhere, and it comes across less like the stumbles of a first-time novelist and more like the structured reward of the manipulator. Which, I should be clear, is not to say Magariel is nearly as cruel as the father he’s written, but he’s at least as clever.
RaveThe Boston GlobeFrom the New World holds together with a sure (if diffuse) grace, elegantly pulling Graham’s best works into each other’s light. As such, there’s a gem-like play of reflection and refraction between the poems in this tidied context, and the collection comes off less like a scrapbook than a collage of the night sky — its continuity contiguous, but unaffected ... To this grand assembly, the collection adds four new poems that reinforce Graham’s engagement with the now alongside her fascination with the always. Chatbots and corporate speak invade the lines of 'Fast' and 'Honeycomb,' but Graham’s attentive touch can charge the most inert particulars with significance, like the dust of stars.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeTo pull off this performance, Pugh executes some fancy footwork of her own; and like Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson taking flight up a flight of stairs (and back down again), Pugh nimbly keeps step with a chronology that’s given to doubling back abruptly and leaping forward.