Dorothea LaskyRome

Liveright, 2014

by Jen Fitzgerald on July 30, 2014

Dorothea Lasky

View on Amazon

Dorothea Lasky‘s Rome (Liveright, 2014) is a collection that will catch you off guard. Lasky lures the reader in with familiar language and imagery only to have them suddenly realize they’ve been brought to room where the walls wobble and collapse, eternally revealing darker passageways.

She is undoubtedly a language poet but also one who sees language as a roadblock. The communication is in the sound. Just as with Hemingway, words are merely an entry point to meaning. Stripped of even punctuation, these lines hurl themselves at the reader.

Do not take this economy of language as simplicity. Within it are the layers of desire, grief, betrayal, and rage. Lasky’s speakers embody everything that is human yet alien, familiar and foreign. Emboldened by their own savage humanity, they assert themselves into landscapes and consciousness.

But this is not easily won— Lasky lets us into her process, revision, and search for obsession. If she cannot lose herself in the poem then she will not offer it up to the world.

When at sixty it might hit you

What you’ve given up

When your sentimental heart

Might let its hair down and see

The sun for the first time

When you pick up this book, read the lines aloud, impose your will on them, and see where they take you.


Kerry James EvansBangalore

July 22, 2014

Bangalore (Copper Canyon Press 2013) by Kerry James Evans calls out to its reader from an urgency that is its own place and time. He has inhabited many spaces, geographically and socially. His poems reach out from them. Evans shows us that poetry, as the great communicator, can hold the violence of this life and [...]

Read the full article →

Kamilah Aisha MoonShe Has A Name

July 16, 2014

She Has A Name (Four Way Books 2014) by Kamilah Aisha Moon is a startling collection that dares to intimately address the way a family transforms when caring for an Autistic child. Deemed a “biomythography,” (a term coined by Audre Lorde), the works are cautious in their rendering and respectful in their assertions. The reader [...]

Read the full article →

Eliza GriswoldI am a Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan

June 23, 2014

In my dream, I am the president. When I awake, I am a beggar of the world. The landay represents an oral tradition of a mostly illiterate people. It is a dirge, a calling out to, that is specific to each woman who sings it. Even within the confines of an unwavering regime, life finds [...]

Read the full article →

Cedar SigoLanguage Arts

June 17, 2014

Language Arts (Wave Books 2014) by Cedar Sigo is a departure and then reintroduction to form on avant garde’s terms. In addition to disparate explosions of imagery, Cedar trains the ear for surprise of sound and a prosody that was born of childhood prayer, exposure to native tongue, and an understanding of musical composition. You [...]

Read the full article →

Kevin PruferChurches

June 9, 2014

Kevin Prufer is a rare poet who manages to layer narratives and weave metrical variations seamlessly into his work, all while placing it on the page in an organic and “effortless” way. This is especially notable when we come to understand the process by which his poems are born; the disparate connections and glorious jumps, [...]

Read the full article →

Venus ThrashThe Fateful Apple

May 18, 2014

To read Venus Thrash‘s The Fateful Apple (Urban Poets and Lyricists, 2014) is to venture into two assertions of self-hood.  The first is a raucous, boundary-setting with the world and the second is reverent consciousness of ancestry and quietude.  Thrash plays out her own duality of self and history and takes the reader on a journey back to the center, [...]

Read the full article →

Jason KooAmerica’s Favorite Poem

May 12, 2014

In Jason Koo’s new collection, America’s Favorite Poem (C&R Press, 2014), we see a poet placing himself on the timeline of his art. This timeline covers an ethnic, geographic, and artistic lineage that pays homage to Brooklyn’s literary heritage. As founder of Brooklyn Poets,  he extends his literary citizenship to offer community to disparate groups [...]

Read the full article →

Mark WunderlichThe Earth Avails

May 4, 2014

In The Earth Avails (Graywolf Press), Mark Wunderlich presents a world unfamiliar to most of us: rural life. While many poets are enamored by the impact of the Internet and the smartphone upon the self and how the digital landscape has changed our understanding of the worlds around us, Wunderlich’s book seems to be arguing [...]

Read the full article →

Kenneth GoldsmithSeven American Deaths and Disasters

March 23, 2014

Kenneth Goldsmith‘s latest book Seven American Deaths and Disasters (powerHouse Books, 2013), a title taken from the series of Warhol paintings by the same name, is a classic book of defamiliarization. By transcribing the words broadcast in real-time by the media’s unscripted response to historical events, Goldsmith brilliantly drains these infamous moments of cliche. Choosing [...]

Read the full article →