MixedThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)The Tradition is in some ways a more personal book than its predecessor: for instance, we find the speaker making love (quite a lot), or remembering a school day ... But it is also, and often simultaneously, a book of injustices, beatings, death ... [Brown] is not afraid to implicate or chastise himself, either. Almost everything here bears a lyric I, and then near the end of the book he writes, \'I am sick of your sadness, / Jericho Brown\' ... The book closes with a set of uncompromising love poems, which also draws on its earlier preoccupations ... There is a unity and maturity to this collection; there is also a bit too much of the same thing done in the same way, though, which was also a failing of its predecessor.
PositiveThe Times Literary SupplementThe Long Take, then, is a version of the story of an epoch. And it is immaculately researched in terms of geography, current affairs, and its constant cultural touchstones in the Hollywood films of the time ... Unfortunately, the book is also quite repetitive, in needless as well as effective ways, and palls in places. Moreover, some of the American and Canadian slang feels a little excessive or ventriloquized ... Nonetheless, it is often moving and engrossing: a ballsy move on the part of Robin Robertson.
PositiveThe Times Literary SupplementThe book abounds, and perhaps over-abounds, with the sort of witty self-chastisement that has become customary for this poet ... In To the Woman at the United Airlines Check-in Desk at Newark, at which we assume he has behaved intemperately, he writes of \'Shonique\' and her \'fluorescent orange lipsticked lip\' which \'curls up at me with such distaste\' that he feels obliged \'to sit / down now on my case at the rush of shame I feel: // and also love; and of course lust, hate, remorse\'. This is a gutsy portrayal of power and guilt, but the emotions are too abstract, sweeping, unconvincing ... Some of the best poems are the most ostensibly simple, though, such as “Silk Cut”, about a grown-up son and his lonely father ... Laird is in control of his craft, whether in tight free verse or the self-referential form of a pantoum. He can be repetitive, though: there are lots of what seem to be versions of the same poem, about the obligations of fatherhood, for example. But even in those poems that don’t add up to much...there is usually something pitch-perfect enough to make you glad.