...[an] excellent debut collection ... In Sharif’s rendering, 'Look' is at once a command to see and to grieve the people these words describe — and also a means of implicating the reader in the violence delivered upon those people ... At the book’s heart is 'Personal Effects,' a stunning 31-page elegy for Sharif’s uncle Amoo, killed in the Iran-Iraq war ... An artful lexicographer, Sharif shows us that the diameter of a word is often as devastating as the diameter of a bomb.
...[a] remarkable debut ... Every piece underscores the importance of how we view and name things. Even the book’s title, a term that refers to mine warfare — admonishes readers to think about their own ideas and impressions.
...[an] extraordinary debut collection ... This might be one of the sexiest books ever made from the long fallout of war ... Lyricism is so often over-used in poetry, but here Sharif deploys it perfectly; she heightens language to remember what was.
...[an] astonishing debut ... Sharif casts the light of her imagination into the world’s darkest places: solitary prison cells, Guantanamo, graveyards where 'only mothers guard the nameless dead.' Skilled at irony, she crafts poems out of chirpy newspaper headlines and spins military lingo into black humor.
...it is to Sharif's credit that her poetry flicks between lyric and lexicon while still sounding like music; in her hands, language is as pliant as warmed wax ... It is the central miracle of Look that Sharif shows us the real intensity of her conceit without veering into triteness. She is, in turns, icy and searing, but consistently fierce and beautiful. By her new code, we are urged toward vigilance and clarity, urged to always have eyes to see.
Solmaz Sharif’s Look is a book that disrupts, fervently and effectively. The poems within are allergic to complacency and linguistic hypnosis ... Look suggests that the catalyst of war has altered lives both in seismic and subtle ways, but it also points to a particularly poignant effect of war felt here in today’s United States: Islamophobia.
Sharif’s poems go further, vivifying dead language and drawing it close ... In veering between intimate and official knowledge, Sharif returns repeatedly to the theme of who has the authority (and who the obligation) to speak about violence ... reminds us of powers that would rather us not see the grief at all.