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Reviews
Jonathan Ball on Michael Lista

Jonathan Ball on Michael Lista

The Scarborough by Michael Lista (Signal Editions, 2014)   When Kenneth Goldsmith appeared on The Colbert Report to promote his book Seven American Deaths and Disasters, Stephen Colbert stated that reading the book (which consists of conceptual poems transcribing live news reports of events ranging in scope from the death of John Lennon to the...
Ryan Pratt on Julie Joosten: Light Light

Ryan Pratt on Julie Joosten: Light Light

Light Light, Julie Joosten. BookThug (2013) Stillness is the new fantasy – a rest in the garden after work or an upcoming vacation – promising an answer to the madness of our schedules with a restoring sense of balance. Nowadays, every time we try to meditate or unplug from our devices, there’s this lack. An...
Frankie Barnet on Shelly Oria: NEW YORK 1 TEL AVIV 0

Frankie Barnet on Shelly Oria: NEW YORK 1 TEL AVIV 0

NEW YORK 1 TEL AVIV 0, Shelly Oria. Bond Street Books (2014)   “I think, who is this person? That me who isn’t Israeli and isn’t American, isn’t gay and isn’t straight— who is she?” (26).   New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, Shelly Oria’s debut collection of short stories, is a book about intersections...
Prathna Lor on Laura Riding: Contemporaries and Snobs

Prathna Lor on Laura Riding: Contemporaries and Snobs

Contemporaries and Snobs. Laura Riding. Edited by Laura Heffernan and Jane Malcolm. University of Alabama Press, 2014 “In theory, poetry has officially passed” (40). So proclaims Laura Riding in her opening essay to Contemporaries and Snobs, “Poetry and the Literary Universe.” Originally published in 1928, this new edition, edited by Laura Heffernan and Jane Malcolm,...
Daniel Zomparelli: In praise of three great first books

Daniel Zomparelli: In praise of three great first books

Misadventures by Nicholas Grider A Strange Object Press Short Fiction Grider writes a book that is about form, about structure just as much as narrative. He takes characters who wouldn’t normally be able to tell a story but makes the narration work. His stories give you just enough clues to let you settle into the...
Kate Sterns on Ian McEwan

Kate Sterns on Ian McEwan

The Children Act by Ian McEwan Review by Kate Sterns London. Trinity term one week old. Implacable June weather. This echo of the famous opening to Dickens’ masterpiece, Bleak House serves as the beginning to Ian McEwan’s latest novel, The Children Act. The reference signals, or ought to, that the reader is in for a...
E Martin Nolan on Erina Harris: The Stag Head Spoke

E Martin Nolan on Erina Harris: The Stag Head Spoke

The Stag Head Spoke, Erina Harris. Buckrider Books, 2014 The Stag Head Spoke is a difficult book to grasp – perhaps it is ultimately ungraspable – but even on the first bewildering read, it’s well worth the effort. The visceral power of the words, especially the musical effects, are obvious from the start. The Stag...
Jordan Davis on Ken Babstock

Jordan Davis on Ken Babstock

“The Brave,” a poem in Ken Babstock’s third collection, Airstream Land Yacht, contains a good account of the disdain poets feel for work from outside the tribe: It wasn’t quite right. Lacked focus. Might have tickled the kids, the simple, Or those others on that other coast, but not us. It wasn’t what we liked....
Jake Kennedy on Lisa Robertson

Jake Kennedy on Lisa Robertson

“You Decide to Meditate on the Condition of a Seam”—Notes On Lisa Robertson’s Cinema of the Present it’s not the new.  it is what is yet not known, thought, seen, touched but really what is not. and that is. —Eva Hesse -Kmac visited Coach House just as Cinema Of The Present was being printed and...
Diego Báez on Paul Vermeersch

Diego Báez on Paul Vermeersch

Paul Vermeersch, Don’t Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something, ECW 2014 Like Y2K survivalists and street corner preachers, Paul Vermeersch seems to insist the apocalypse has been upon us for a while, now. However, unlike frightful doomsdayers, Vermeersch revels in this proclamation and, contrary to popular imagination, does not include cerebrophagic...
Danielle Bobker: Belle, A New View of 18th Century Racism

Danielle Bobker: Belle, A New View of 18th Century Racism

Belle: A New View of Eighteenth-Century Racism by Danielle Bobker  Belle (2013), directed by Amma Asante and written by Misan Sagay, tells stories that are by turns deeply familiar and completely fresh. You need only to have read a Jane Austen (1775-1817) novel or two, or seen any of the movie adaptations, to guess the...
Alex Porco on Gary Barwin: Moon Baboon Canoe

Alex Porco on Gary Barwin: Moon Baboon Canoe

In an interview from June 2010, Canadian poet Gary Barwin expressed his discomfort with being labeled as a surrealist writer and performer. In the early twenty-first century, the term Surrealism risks mystifying as much as it illuminates. “I always have some misgivings about the term when applied outside of its original context,” explains Barwin. [I]t...

Heather Cromarty on Chris Tysh: Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic

Each English version of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal bears the mark of its translator; each one swings so wildly that sometimes a poem is barely recognizable from one version to the next. “Aux objets répugnants nous trouvons des appas”; “We yield, enthralled, to things repugnant, base”; “In repugnant things we discover charms”; Robert Lowell’s...

Eric Schmaltz on Divya Victor: Things To Do With Your Mouth

Things to Do With Your Mouth (Les Figues, 2014) is full-throated and bursting. Published in April 2014 as part of TrenchArt: The Logistics Series by Les Figues Press, this is the newest book from Troll-Thread’s sharp-witted former co-conspirator, Divya Victor. With intent to interrogate the long history of fear of women’s voices, Victor employs appropriation and...
Daniel Zomparelli on Jon Paul Fiorentino: Needs Improvement

Daniel Zomparelli on Jon Paul Fiorentino: Needs Improvement

What is it to press against the norm? To push back against the bullies using language, to be the Steve Urkels of society? In Jon Paul Fiorentino’s sixth collection, he sets out to deconstruct the language of pedagogy and what it means to “not fit in.” To get a better understanding of the work, I...
Marianne Ackerman on Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch

Marianne Ackerman on Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch

Twenty pages into The Goldfinch (Little Brown and Company, 2013) I started having chest pains, accompanied by shortness of breath. My wrist tingled. I figured it must be something I ate, or maybe early signs of a heart attack. But the most obvious source of discomfort lay close at hand, no more than twelve, maybe...

Klara du Plessis on Redell Olsen: Film Poems

I have spent much of today mesmerized by online video clips. It’s the usual YouTube trail of one to the next, yet this is the future that awaits you too, when reading Redell Olsen’s newest work, Film Poems (Les Figues Press, 2014).  Film Poems is a collection of five poetic sequences – that is, unified...
Eric Schmaltz on John Riddell: The Selected Fiction of John Riddell

Eric Schmaltz on John Riddell: The Selected Fiction of John Riddell

Writing Surfaces: The Selected Fiction of John Riddell (Wilfred Laurier UP, 2013) is an overdue and timely re-introduction of one of Canada’s most radical, enigmatic media experimenters and fictioneers. Riddell’s concretistic, playful, unreadable, procedural, and non-representational works are numerous and have been too often overlooked. Beginning his career in the early 1960s, his work appeared in...
Bukem Reitmayer on Vivek Shraya: God Loves Hair

Bukem Reitmayer on Vivek Shraya: God Loves Hair

They say Your skin is blue because You are infinite like the sky and the ocean of milk You rest on. I wish my skin was blue. So begins the piece entitled “Dear Vishnu” in Vivek Shraya’s playful and intimate collection of prose poem-like stories, God Loves Hair (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014). Among brief flashes...
Joey Yearous-Algozin on Trisha Low: The Compleat Purge

Joey Yearous-Algozin on Trisha Low: The Compleat Purge

“After all: the ‘I’ is not to be expelled, but submitted to sacrifice.” —Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism In the current saturation of social media in which our daily confessions constitute only the generic projection of a self, The Compleat Purge (Kenning Editions, 2013) may mark the death of...
Max Karpinski on Jessica Bozek: The Tales

Max Karpinski on Jessica Bozek: The Tales

There is a reticence in the sentences of Jessica Bozek’s The Tales (Les Figues Press, 2013). This is a slow and heavy read, a difficult text that requires sitting and soaking. Bozek treads carefully, weaving a convoluted story out of sometimes contradictory and confusing prose poems. But The Tales is less about a narrative, less...
Kate Sterns on Claire Messud: The Woman Upstairs

Kate Sterns on Claire Messud: The Woman Upstairs

Nora Eldridge, the narrator of Claire Messud’s latest novel, The Woman Upstairs (Random House, 2013), is by her own description one of those quiet women—middle-aged, single, dutiful—who live “at the end of the third floor hallway, whose trash is always tidy, [and] who smiles brightly in the stairwell with a cheerful greeting.” (Cats are optional.)...
Trisha Low on Nathaniel G. Moore: Savage 1986-2011

Trisha Low on Nathaniel G. Moore: Savage 1986-2011

“The function of the wrestler is not to win: it is to go exactly through the motions which are expected of him.” —Roland Barthes, “The World of Wrestling,” Mythologies Let’s start with the weekend, because I have to start somewhere. So, okay, I’m writing this review at home, it’s a weekend, one that I’m jokingly...
Eric Schmaltz on Stephen Collis: The Red Album

Eric Schmaltz on Stephen Collis: The Red Album

Let’s pretend: you review me, I review you. We read each other’s poems (barely) and whisper sweet nothings, banal praise. We attend ‘events’ to ‘see’ others and ‘be seen.’ This is all the theatre of criticism. Who did you pretend to be today? What writer did you pretend to read? What was your pretend honest...
Jessica Langston on Joseph Boyden: The Orenda

Jessica Langston on Joseph Boyden: The Orenda

Joseph Boyden’s newest novel The Orenda (Penguin, 2013) was published to what seemed universal acclaim. Kamal Al-Soylaylee writing in Quill & Quire’s October issue described it as a “magnificent literary beast”; The Globe and Mail’s Charles Foran called it “a great, heartbreaking novel, full of fierce action and superb characters and an unblinking humanity”; even the...