Tess Taylor’s chapbook of poems, The Misremembered World, was selected by Eavan Boland and published by the Poetry Society of America. Her poetry and nonfiction have since appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, Harvard Review, The Times Literary Supplement, and The New Yorker. Her first book, The Forage House, was a finalist for the Believer Poetry Award. Tess is on air poetry reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered, and is a professor of English and creative writing at Whittier College. Find her on Twitter @Tessathon
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Eisendrath works partly to illuminate Sidney’s famous but rarely read 16th-century romance, and partly to examine what retrospection is and what it (and also literature) might be for. Her title speaks to the floating, mutable quality of thought (\'clouds,\' she notes, \'are always in the process of becoming something else\'), but also to the sense of grandeur and magic that works like Sidney’s can convey ... Ms. Eisendrath, who is director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Barnard College, would well be able to write us a scholarly tome illuminating Sidney, and contextualizing his life and time. She’s just doing something far more wingèd and leaping here ... in Ms. Eisendrath’s hands the Arcadia offers the chance to explore reading as a kind of suspension within another world, especially a world that feels complex, distant or fantastic ... Meditating on Sidney, on clouds seen both in Renaissance paintings and in 21st-century skies, and on a number of other topics as well, Ms. Eisendrath absorbs herself—as child, reader, daughter and scholar—into her meditation ... Ultimately Gallery of Clouds celebrates the substance of contemplation, a meaningful but insubstantial state, and the passing cloudshapes that reading offers.
PositiveThe New York Times... an appealingly jagged sequence of collage poems ... To invite us into this complex space, Howe populates the pages of her new book with sliced texts and textures ... Concordance requires readers to channel their inner bookworm or hungry archivist, the tender scholar for whom typefaces, fonts, ink stains and marginalia create an ardent flutter. Utility is beside the point ... Delighting in new paths around words, exploring their visual, acoustic, sonic possibilities, she revels in \'affinities and relations,\' in \'signals and transmissions\' ... tantalizing ... Howe writes against a world that disappears too far away online, in which we lose the bodily perception of space, the tenderness of touch. In this era of social distancing, I felt the prick of these poems[.]
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe sight lines in Sze’s 10th collection are just that—imagistic lines strung together by jump-cuts, creating a filmic collage that itself seems to be a portrait of simultaneity ... fascinated by how the accumulation and juxtaposition of disparate, keenly observed things can get us from here to there, allowing us to hold multitudes, too ... This is a poetry of assemblage, where violence and beauty combine and hang on Sze’s particular gift for the leaping non sequitur ... Inside these poems of billowing consciousness, we too are alive to a spectrum of wonders.
MixedThe San Francisco ChronicleIn Mr. Penumbra\'s 24-Hour Bookstore, set in a quirky quasi-real but also semi-surreal version of the Bay Area, the magical, the technological, the absurd and the imaginary all fuse. The result is a jaunty, surprisingly old-fashioned fantasy about the places where old and new ways of accessing knowledge meet ... the plot becomes quite familiar, as if lifted from a template we would all recognize. At times, unfortunately, this template itself seems to flirt with cliche. Although this book cleverly uses the technological age in the service of its fantasy, a great deal of what is written here hasn\'t really upgraded its own narrative operating system ... In fact, at times, the sorts of mysteries that are uncovered feel a tad rote - a totally pleasant cartoon, but not a particularly new one. And given that this book is actually speaking to a rather urgent current question about the battle between old and new forms of knowledge, at times not quite enough complexity is at stake ... Even though this book is familiar in ways, it is pleasurable, too. Sloan\'s ultimate answer to the mystery of what keeps people solving Penumbra\'s puzzle is worth turning pages to find out.
RaveNPRGay\'s poems burst forth in leggy, unexpected ways, zooming in on legs furred with pollen or soil breast-stroking into the xylem. Gay\'s praise is Whitmanesque, full of manure, mulberry-stained purple bird poop, dirty clothes and hangovers, but also the pleasure of bare feet, of pruning a peach tree, of feeding a neighbor ... Whether you\'re feeling like you have an whole brass band of gratitude or if you\'re feeling like you only have rusty horn, read this book. Gay even thanks you for reading it, saying I can\'t stop my gratitude, which includes, dear reader, you for staying here with me, for moving your lips just so as I speak.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... taut, ferocious ... In the midst of so much complication, certain poems may seem to end too easily, but others are riddled, deftly complex ... the poems’ furious compression feels carnal, and the intensity of feeling becomes almost mystic ... In the midst of so much complication, certain poems may seem to end too easily, but others are riddled, deftly complex ... This is a book about survival, and a welcome, confident debut.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"... plangent, thrumming ... In many ways, the book’s focus is strikingly inward, showing how grief sounds in the body, mapping paths, making previously hidden regions visible. In another sense, Gander’s poems are public howls that trace a luminous borderland where the self dissolves into the world ... There are dazzling fragments, unraveling syntax, poems that, in their ghostliness, also force us to be alert to our own fragile lives.\
MixedBarnes & Noble Review...[a] jaunty romp through current theories about evolution in cities ... Yet for all that this book is both erudite and illuminating, Darwin Comes to Town, suffers, in the end, from its blithe approach. For a world of birds with loud calls and toxin-resistant mammals itself sounds like far too low a bar too hope for. Nor is it really enough ... Indeed, Schilthuizen’s whole premise blurs the urban/nature divide—reminding us that everything is an ecosystem for something, even if it is an oil-filled puddle at the side of a stripmall. However, if that radical idea propels the book forward, I’d push the writer to be more explicit about leaning against another divide we humans seem to take for granted.
PositiveThe Barnes & Noble ReviewAs Stephen Greenblatt argues in his richly woven new book, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, it is a story that’s so compelling that once we hear it, it feels impossible to forget. But the fact that we all recognize the outlines of this odd origin myth doesn’t make it any less strange … In short, this is a book of stories about a story, stories that help us see the way a story is a river that also takes on the shapes of what it flows by, even when it eventually encounters such formidable challengers as Darwin. Or, to float another metaphor, it’s a book that reminded me of the Hebrew Bible’s concept of Midrash, where interpretive stories enclose and nest and build upon biblical stories, so that the story about the story becomes integral to finding ones way back to the story itself.
PositiveNPRIn the singular, any one of these might be on a refrigerator magnet or hung above your desk. Together, Manguso's 300 mysterious clusters leap and circle the question of what we do when we read or write or desire. So even though the cover calls the book nonfiction, this collection transcends any category to be something totally its own ... Manguso's captured the argumentative voice of a mind sifting through a problem, circling it, animated by sorting it out. In her wake, Manguso sets problems for us to sort, as well. No one can steal something that's too small to see, says Manguso, and immediately I find myself wondering whether I think that's true. I'm not sure, but I admit I like thinking about it, and maybe that's the pleasure here ... We enter Manguso's mind - her puzzle, pleased to be puzzled, too.
PositiveThe Barnes & Noble Review...[a] sly, entertaining compendium of American haunting ... Each chapter is part tale, part analysis. The stories are good — chains rattle, eerie lights pass by — but often Dickey seems more fascinated than actually spooked ... Instead, what makes the book rich is the way that Dickey consistently narrates a pleasantly chilling tale — of a spurned love, of a series of mysterious deaths, of an unhappy soul left with unfinished work — then reads what lies behind the ghost story. It’s as if he’s lifting the veil to show how one horror stands in for another ... Dickey is a wise tour guide to the kitsch and also an astute interpreter of the compelling American medium of haunting.
Peter Ho Davies
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleThe interlocked vignettes are haunting ... In an era loaded with the charged binary of black/white relations, Davies’ elegant meditations on the paths of these four lives through American racialization enlarge the scope ... As the book goes on, Davies’ tales syncopate, constellate. In them are questions of value and valuelessness; home and homelessness; presence and erasure. These are stories of trying to return and of going forward, stories in which home and geography are scrambled and emergent.
PositiveThe Barnes & Noble ReviewOccasionally I wish that he’d shared more explicitly here what surfing has meant to him as a reporter ... Finnegan’s work is a tribute to wandering. Finnegan now builds sentences, and he — who once shunned even using a surfboard leash — may now be more tethered, but he’s certainly captured those colorful splashings for the rest of us. In this book, the depths shimmer.