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Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

JEFFREY CYPHERS WRIGHT is a poet, publisher, critic, collage artist and eco-activist involved in the community gardens of New York City.

MARC SWANSON At First Sight

A harsh terrain of primordial forces—a far-off land of fantastic trophies and paralyzing loss, a place where love alchemically becomes living memory—is where Marc Swanson explores our universal precepts. Through iconic fabrication, he keeps an alternative universe alive by integrating it with his own sense of self-preservation.

Deep Surface: Reading a New Language in the Kinetic Passages of Jay Milder

The bustling scenarios of Jay Milder’s mixed-media paintings contain a cornucopia of compelling details, delivered with verve and panache.

Chariots of the Gauze: Nader Ebrahimi

Muscle cars from the 70s form the seductive core of this show, which features romantic photographs and paintings.

Poetry Roundup

This period of Hebrew poetry represents a flowering of the language not seen since the Bible. This community, semi-protected by the Muslims, grew for half a millennium. The book begins with Moroccan-born Dunash Ben Labrat. In the 10th century, he studied in Baghdad and brought secular interests to the traditional, liturgical Hebrew verse. The Arabian meter made the verses melodic. Often they were accompanied by music and began to address new subjects (like a tattered coat, fleas or a symbolic doe) with confidence and insight.

Poetry Roundup March 08

Poet in New YorkFederico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Medina and Mark Statman, trans.(Grove Press, 2008) Heart Stoner BingoStephanie Gray(Straw Gate Books, 2007) The Greener MeadowLuciano Erba(Princeton University Press, 2007)

Poetry Roundup

Some poets question the very nature of language. Bob Perelman has written about the “value of the dissonance… in Zukovsky” and Serge Gavronsky elaborates on that value in this new book. Named for three articles, the title is an homage to Zukofsky’s Objectivist masterpiece “A”.

Poetry Roundup

A princess in a fairy tale… a victim of war… a sleepwalker navigating the fog… these are the faces Albanian poet Valentina Saracini puts forth. A pilgrim, she leads us through loneliness, fear, and sudden illumination. She paints each page black with her words, inviting lightning. “Bring me my love to the shore/ Get me a crystal boat.”

Poetry Roundup

The Landscapist: Selected Poems; Roberto Bolaño, The Romantic Dogs; Thomas Lux, God Particles; Connie Voisine, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream; Bob Holman, BOX.

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Joseph Stroud, Of This World; Sharon Olds, One Secret Thing; Alex Lemon, Hallelujah Blackout

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Now, from Philadelphia comes a modern day Mallarmé in the post-avant emissions of Frank Sherlock who is “telling the future from memory.”

Poetry Roundup

After thirty poetry books, Anselm Hollo looks back in these epic sonnet. “Guests in Space” is full of friends and authors from across the ages. An elegiac tone permeates and percolates as Hollo ruminates over life.

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Pink angel wings buzz in Rachel Loden’s formidable verses. Real villains like Tricky Dick and Dick Cheney are re-cast as Shakespearian spooks in technically innovative send-ups. Politics and star culture merge as the poet purges our collective soul while never losing her own.

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What crime Kazim Ali has committed to explicate his title Bright Felon remains a mystery. But the conviction is certain. A gay Muslim in the West, he is doubly dubious—his self-questioning, intense.

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Maggie Nelson gives me a boinker. Her brain and her pussy are both talking in this genre-busting hybrid. Lyrical, philosophical, at times off color and always searching, our heroine’s magnetic persona grabs you.

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Riff-rattled and jack-legged, critic and poet Fred Moten conducts the ministers of the “Black Arts Movement,” fusing them into an orchestral procession. His “Ghostcatcher” runs underground and over the top, turning the outside in and insight out.

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There’s nary a word wasted in these mini tours-de-force by Kay Ryan, our current national Poet Laureate. Beginning with poems from 1965, this book presents a lifetime’s work and it is an unqualified success.

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The Bible isn’t a totally incongruous choice for R. Crumb, the originator of Zap, Snatch and Jiz comix. After all, Mr. Natural sports a long beard and robe, resembling a mystic, gurus or saint. And Genesis is wild and woolly.

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Bold safaris into the syntax jungle, ontological forays through the neuro-impulse relays, the poems in Trance Archive fuse sci-fi and surrealism. Linguistic lattices, they circle the “riddled” rings of sound, echo, and meaning.

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After a while, you notice the conductor has wings on his sandals. He speaks a kind of Mandarin English peppered with pithy grit. You don’t understand it all, but how could you?

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Rolling like a column of cabooses packed with ghosts, Tom Clark approaches the terminus in this latest work. Awarded a Fulbright when he was 22, Clark was instrumental in exposing America’s avant poets when he became an editor at the Paris Review almost half a century ago.

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At 44, Christian Wiman has an inside track on the subject of mortality—he has a terminal disease with an uncertain timeline.

RAPID TRANSIT: A Final Kiss To 2010

“Silk on silk” is how Jimmy Schuyler sounds in Other Flower: Uncollected Poems from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. The “poetry and fragments had been idly waiting” to be found by James Meetze who worked with Simon Pettet to put this collection together. While understandably uneven, the substantial addition to Schuyler’s canon is a joy.

Rapid Transit

These 10-line poems spin with joy and astonishment. They retain just enough ballast to keep them from lifting off. Adventuresome, they swirl around a very grounded sense of personal myth.

Rapid Transit

Elaine Equi is one who won’t stay “inside the line… or outside the line. // I am the line itself,” she proclaims in the lead poem “Follow Me.” In an age of instant and infinite communication marked by blips, beeps, and tweets, she continues to streamline her unique vision.

Rapid Transit

Rimbaud famously proposed the “systematic derangement” of the senses to find the unknown. That was his prescription for liberating language. The consequent writings are what make us “modern,” the translator John Ashbery declares in his foreward.

RAPID TRANSIT or A SUMMARY OF SOME SUMMER PAGES

Take a poet’s life work and distill it into pure essence—it will look like When I Was a Poet by David Meltzer (City Lights Books). Having fully lived, the Beat legend stands at the abyss and peers down (and back).

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Image Makers in Photography and Poetry

Ethnographic, environmental, and aesthetic—this book is a triple win. Photographer Phil Borges returned to Tibet after 15 years to make this panoramic portrait of a people and place that are drastically changing.

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Hard not to like these talky, breathless, abbreviated “love” songs. “Let me sing. Yes I have done wrong dang it. / It’s how to teach light and turning moving on.”

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Uncanny describes the effect Peter Doig’s figures activate. They appear like reflections in a weathered mirror in which you recognize yourself with a slight start.

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Part Epitaph, Part History, Part Malaprop, Part Orgasm

The poet should drag you down and put a stone on your heart. Likewise, the poet should infuse you with the giddiest exultation of inflamed passion.

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Critic Richard Vine is an expert on contemporary Chinese art and he compares much of it to Delacroix’s “Lady Liberty Leading the People.” Indeed, the most famous of contemporary Chinese artists, Ai Weiwei, has come to the fore precisely because of his confrontations with authority.

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From Guadeloupe to Harlem, the poet frames philosophical ruminations inside a cinematic eye.

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MAPPING THE GRAIN: Silver, Mercury, and Lead Go into a Bar…

Larry Fagin is the quintessential New York School poet. Born in 1937, he serves as a bridge between first, second, and third generation New York School. He combines the cosmopolitan breeziness of O’Hara’s Personism with the trademark humor of Ted Berrigan and Ron Padgett.

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Leah Umansky admits impediments. In fact, her topos of a marriage-gone-bad is previewed on the cover (she did the collage).

Poetry Roundup

Gaius Valerius Catullus…we laud the caustic wit and cloacal satirist for his love, sorrow and outsized audacity.

Prose Roundup

Poetry Roundup

An ominous and surreal pall infects this bittersweet collection by two-time NYFA Fellow Bill Kushner, who pairs a character named Billy with Abraham Lincoln. Billy is cast as a simple, wayward lad, innocent but seducible.

ART
Deep in the Heart of Art

Danger plus beauty equals glory. Recognize. And these murals, created illegally in the bowels of the New York City transit system, are thrilling. Painted in an abandoned subway station four stories down, they epitomize the potency of the “underground.”

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In this shake up call, four devastated communities (termed “sacrifice zones”) are portrayed with tragic clarity. From the riot-burned ruins of Camden, New Jersey, to the bleak farm-worker camps in Florida, the book gives a hard look at very harsh conditions.

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Your dictionary becomes a box of Godivas, as Gary Indiana sends you pell mell to look up old (forgotten) friends and new. These collected essays that were published in Artforum, Bookforum, The Village Voice, and other cultural life support systems, are uniformly a pleasure, each one a delectable, umber treat.

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At 21, Jack Spicer joined Kenneth Rexroth’s inner sanctum in San Francisco.

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If you’ve missed the Darwin train this year, then you’re doubly behind. First, because it’s the bicentennial of Charles Henry Darwin’s birth. Second, it’s the 150th anniversary of his publication of The Origin of Species, whose principle of evolution is arguably the single most important discovery of all time.

Poetry Roundup

Vincent Katz, Kristin Prevallet, Ed Foster

Poetry Roundup

Edward Field, After the FallMatthea Harvey, Modern LifeDavid Shapiro, New and Selected Poems (1965—2006)

Poetry Roundup

Half of poetry is suspended silence… a white blank on the page. Frank Bidart cultivates that space as he collects the seeds of language and positions them. High tone and complex diction set the stage for fear, ghosts and tragedies.

Rapid Transit

"Speak Low” is a pitch perfect title for Carl Phillips’ twelfth book, at once equaniminous and unsettling, personal and universal. Here is a poet who listens to “the silences…of intimacy…risks…the dead” and can tell us what silence says and how it sounds.

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If Basho were around today he might write something like this—shavings of life curling from his pen onto the page. Beginning with nature, adding love and a dose of “thin Midwest darkness,” Wayne Miller records the echoes of snow falling on frost.

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Like cowgirls? Like flyboys? Like reading? Then you’ll really like Rebecca Brown. If you’re lucky, you already know about her.

Poetry Roundup

Stephen Paul Miller, Skinny Eighth Avenue; Eileen Tabios, Dredging for Atlantis ; Edited by Murat Nemet-Nejat, Eda: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry (Talisman House, 2004)

Poetry Roundup

A good poet can walk a mile in the vernacular of another person and refine their essence. Allan Kaplan has walked many miles and often speaks in the voice of a character. But no matter who is speaking—the “hired man…the pensioned bargeman of the Moselle…the scholar of China”—they all sound like one thing—a good poet!

Poetry Roundup

Lewis Warsh—luminous waltz. These writings possess an otherness, an alterity that persists as they switch from verse to prose to poetry. The introspective narrator achieves a sui generis quality, unlike anything you’ve read before.

Poetry Roundup

Time is currency and Jorie Graham spends her poems surfing the cresting curl of the present. A persistent monologue probes the pleats of passing seconds and the “trellis of minutes.”

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Or A Fistful of Fulfilling Fall Books

Area 51 doesn’t officially exist. The military/intelligence operation is located in a cluster of test sites, target ranges, and spook headquarters half the size of Connecticut.

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Wisdom, Truth, and Beauty—Who Could Ask for More?

An expert on the Objectivist poets, Michael Heller is himself an exemplar of the tradition. Clear, precise, and grounded, his poems display adamantine form and inscrutable technique.

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A balance between breeziness and brazenness keeps these poems edgy as Maureen McLane transforms landscape into “inscape.” Searching for resolution in isolation, she inhabits a “loafing groove.”

Rapid Transit

Elizabeth Willis shares her Address, making the word and the world one. Magic is at work in the “willed adventure of the alpine grass.” “Yesness Park” signals go. These poems are surefooted, yet unpredictable.

Four

Jeffrey Cyphers Wright is a poet and collagist. These poems are from Triple Crown, a suite of 45 sonnets. He publishes Live Mag!

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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2019

All Issues