The Roof of the Whale Poems

In Juan Calzadilla’s The Roof of the Whale Poems, translated by Katherine M. Hedeen and Olivia Lott, readers encounter an emotional landscape where one walks in a dreamlike state through urban and personal environments and revolutionary forefronts. The poems in this collection are not shy. They address personal discomfort, social displacement, and radical interpretation of […]


Claire DeVoogd’s debut collection of poetry is an exercise in weaving and reweaving, seaming and unseaming. Stitched together in tight fragments, her words punch through the past like bird shot through a tapestry. Then, DeVoogd pulls the loosened threads through and braids them into something new. The tapestry is both form and subject, and all […]

Nocturne in Joy

“My mother is Black / under the eyes in / twilight,” Tatiana Johnson-Boria writes in “Portrait of a Mother Before Sunrise,” a poem from her skillfully haunting debut poetry collection, Nocturne in Joy. “How many / nights does she wait / for morning to yawn / into waking?” the speaker asks, exemplifying Johnson-Boria’s deft enjambment […]

I Want to Tell You

Jesse Lee Kercheval’s poetry in I Want to Tell You works toward a language of matrilineage, environmentalism, and war. Any of these aspects would be an admirable and daunting task individually, however, interweaving their conflicts and constraints into singular poems yields a haunting landscape of grief frozen over. For instance, Kercheval’s poem “Say the word […]

Ishmael Mask

In Ishmael Mask, Charles Kell’s second collection of poetry, the poet extends his exploration of identity associated with substance abuse, survivor’s guilt, and male friendships from his first collection, Cage of Lit Glass (Autumn House Press, 2019), which I reviewed in conversation with Nicholas Hauck for The Maynard in December 2019. While the themes from […]

Thirst & Surfeit

In Thirst & Surfeit, Elizabeth Robinson pressurizes language’s relationship to time, to history. In her hands, a sentence becomes an archeological wonder warping the supposed linear constraints of thinking. Here, time speaks as a guide and companion. What does it guide us towards? Itself. These poems think the thinking of time’s unfolding by uncovering history […]

April Showers, May Flowers: 3 Recommendations from the Poetry Reviews Editor

Hafiz’s Little Book of Life (Translated by Gary Gach and Erfan Mojib), Hampton Roads Publishing (2023) Spring can make me want poems whose pleasure comes as quick and unexpected as the purple burst of a crocus. Luckily for me, a new translation of Hafiz, Hafiz’s Little Book of Life, has been at hand for many months, […]

Further Adventures

Norman Finkelstein’s Further Adventures is the last of a trilogy of collections centered around Pascal Wanderlust, a “strange, androgynous protagonist” whose “fate is bound to the Immanent Foundation.” We begin with the “Prologue” and are first introduced to the Arch-Mage, who immediately situates us in world of hierarchies and roles: The Arch-Mage of Nonsense is […]

Negro Mountain

The titular Negro Mountain in C.S. Giscombe’s latest collection is, foremost, a real place: a long ridge in the Allegheny Range of mountains, southwest Pennsylvania, situated directly atop the Mason-Dixon Line. According to word-of-mouth histories that Giscombe includes in the book, Negro Mountain gained its name in the 1750s when a “gigantic African” died in […]

The Book

Flipping through a beautiful new collection of poetry to find that it is actually a collection of prose poems is a little daunting. I worry that it will require a kind of energy that I don’t usually tap into when reading verse poetry. But from the first, Mary Ruefle’s new collection, The Book, turns that […]