In this volume, Sealey, in her breezy, formal-verging-on-experimental style, tackles an eclectic mix of themes and subject matters ranging from childlessness to racially influenced social patterns ... Sealey’s dizzyingly addictive spectacle of subject matters is rendered in a complex assortment of free-verse lyrics, sonnets (sometimes nonce, sometimes traditional), a double sestina, an extended cento, and at least one form Sealey claims as her own: the obverse ... Nicole Sealey clearly has the potential of becoming a breakthrough poet through the aegis of her insights and talents, her passionate enthusiasms, her incisive formal stance, and her unflinching aesthetic.
In Ordinary Beast, Nicole Sealey’s first full-length collection of poetry, she questions how to make something that will last ... One thing that makes this book of myriad forms and ideas feel fresh is its ambivalence about the questions most central to it ... There are so many things to admire about this book, but its formal innovation and poise come to mind first ... the investigation of what it means to perceive and create works of art drives her stunning pair of poems ... Playful, tender, and razor-sharp, Ordinary Beast will be a book I return to again and again.
Nicole Sealey navigates heavy ideas with felicity and skill in her hotly anticipated debut collection ... Though the world her poems inhabit is marked by violence and confusion, they counter this chaos with humor and clarity; her language is plainspoken, exacting and beautiful, often leading to linguistic pearls of surprising wisdom and depth ... Sealey's poetry is most striking when she plays with forms ... Ordinary Beast is full of these neat devices, but they never distract from the core of warmth and familiarity that drives these poems to the heart.