Call Me When You Want to Talk about the Tombstones: Poems by Cynthia Marie Hoffman - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780892554898
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Published: Persea Books - July 3rd, 2018

"Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That's when I will be truly dead - when I exist in no one's memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies,too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?” ― Irvin D. Yalom

I'm not a poetry fan, so I'm unsure what about this book called to me. I am glad I was though, as this is a beautiful little volume, written in free verse, in which a mother and daughter attempt to retrace their family history through old photos, letters, and historical records. We all want to know more about our ancestors, but we often never spend the time truly looking into who these people were and what their lives were like. Don't we all want to be remembered? ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll

Crush by Richard Siken - Book Review

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By Richard Siken, Louise Glück (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780300107890
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Published: Yale University Press - April 11th, 2005

In her foreword, Louise Gluck compares Siken's work to Plath's—an obsessive genius that is unforgettable and inimitable. Siken is the poet other poets are too scared to be. Every page says dare dare dare truth truth truth truth. The kind of book you wish everyone would read, and also the kind of book you don't wish to discuss with anyone, as you would rather keep it tucked somewhere close and private. ~ Reviewed by Hanna Yost

Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781328507846
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Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - November 6th, 2018

This collection from two-time US Poet Laureate combines poems from Trethewey’s previous books (and the entirety of her 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning Native Guard) and a section of new work. Trethewey’s poems are heady, powerful, and gorgeously wrought mixing traditional forms, free verse, and daring narrative structures. A poet of mixed race, she consistently tackles racism, identity, and the African-American experience in poems informed by historical subjects including the Louisiana Native Guard, an all-black Union regiment that guarded Confederate POWs and selections from Bellocq’s Ophelia, an epistolary sequence inspired by early twentieth century photographs of mixed race prostitutes in New Orleans. Some of the most powerful poems are ekphrastic meditations on paintings—particularly a series of poems regarding limbs transplanted from black donors onto white bodies and a sequence based on Spanish taxonomies of race. She has deeply affecting poems about her mother who was murdered by her step-father in a tragic case of domestic abuse, her imprisoned brother, domestic workers, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A magisterial collection of 20 years of work marking her as a major American poet. ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood

What Work Is: Poems by Philip Levine - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780679740582
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Published: Knopf - April 21st, 1992

Truck stops and bus stations; gin bottles and beer cans; the post office, the market; the minutiae of Levine’s daily life is rich with texture and nuance. The frozen rivers and slushy streets of Michigan and Ohio are on full, gritty display in this National Book Award-winning collection. From factory lines to middle schools, Levine examines toil and fatigue in all its dreary forms with nostalgic, empathetic verse. ~ Reviewed by Joe Michon-Huneau

Mindfield: New and Selected Poems by Gregory Corso - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781560252016
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Published: Da Capo Press - December 30th, 1998

Corso wrote like a madman. As the youngest member of the inner circle of the Beats, Ginsberg described him as “a poet’s Poet.” This collection samples noteworthy chunks from his entire poetic oeuvre. Eclectic, rambunctious, and lots of fun! ~ Reviewed by Joe Michon-Huneau

The Dream Songs: Poems by John Berryman - Book Review

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By John Berryman, Daniel Swift (Editor), Michael Hofmann (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780374534554
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 21st, 2014

Berryman invented his own poetic form with semi-specific rules: each Dream Song consists of three stanzas, six lines each, with irregular rhyme schemes and a short closing line. Henry, the collection’s fictional narrator, perpetually despondent and grieving some unstated loss, seems to have split himself down the middle: He sometimes switches between first and third person narration within the span of a single poem, and the only other character refers to Henry as “Mr. Bones.” Heavy and mesmerizing. ~ Reviewed by Joe Michon-Huneau


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