Issue 15 – Winter 2008 – Recent and Notable

Recent & Notable


Peter Riley, The Llyn Writings (Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2008). The text on the back cover describes the book as offering “poems of place […] where topography and meditation meet.” Llyn is a peninsula in Wales jutting out into the Irish Sea and an ancient pilgrimage site. Made up of a dazzling array of highly-charged, lyrical sequences, The Llyn Writings is a meditation on place, history, mortality and contemporary Britain with the cumulative force and poignancy of a Sebald novel.—Jon Thompson

Carolyn Quinzio, Quarry (West Lafayette, Indiana: Parlor Press/Free Verse Editions, 2008). In the tradition of the pastoral poetry of John Clare : “[…] poems of tautly-drawn, subtle elegance. Her tone is somber, her pace gradual, as if, at any moment, something might happen to alter everything and toss the great endurance of life into ruin, or revelation: “A tremendous question hangs in the December sky.”—Ann Lauterbach

Yermiyahau Ahron TaubWhat Stillness IlluminatedPoems in English, Yiddish and Hebrew (West Bend, Indiana: Parlor Press/Free Verse Editions, 2008). “The lyrics of What Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn are rich, romantic, elusive, and finely crafted, like miniatures carved in ivory or dark wood. They remind me of 
imagism’s sharp snapshots, the haunting brevity of haiku, or the wistful eroticism of Cavafy. Taub has given his readers a world of mystery and delicate beauty.” –Jeff Mann

Jack Spicer, my vocabulary did this to me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, edited by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian (Middletown Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2008). “The book is one of the most important volumes of poetry published in the past 50 years. The poems are simply wonderful, and Spicer’s mature work is some of the best ever written by an American.” – Ron Silliman.” An epic of irritation by a poet who professed no epic intent, the collected poetry of Jack Spicer is essential reading. Acerbic, wary, aggressive, aggrieved, it rides and puts it own spin on a recovering (would-be recovering) romanticism, a signal travail informing twentieth-century poetics.”–Nathaniel Mackey

Maurice Manning, Bucolics (New York: Harcourt, 2007). Passionate, sometimes querulous, hymns addressed to the divine, whom Manning dubs “Boss.” Written in a tough, but tender, Southern idiom, these meditations call down God or Fate with an intensity that fixes in the mind the curious–and stunning–ways of the world: ”O boss of ashes boss of dust/you bother with what floats above/the chimney what settles to the ground/you wake the motes from sleep you make/ them curtsy in a ray of sun.” –Jon Thompson

George Oppen, The New Collected Poems, edited by Michael Davidson. Preface by Eliot 
Weinberger (New York; New Directions, 2008). Stephen Burt notes that “Oppen’s way of working, and the poems they produced, show virtues no other poet can match.” What also comes through in both of these editions is Oppen’s superb discrimination: the unpublished poems are fascinating because they’re  Oppens’ and revealing in terms of technique, but rarely as multi-dimensional as his best work. This edition, almost textually identical to the hardback edition, offers readers the collected poems in paperback—along with a wonderful new CD of rare recordings of Oppen readings.