Maggie Smith’s most recent poetry collection, Goldenrod, is a reassuring light that examines the ordinary and reminds us how nearly everything is extraordinary: a weed by the roadside, an off-the-cuff remark from a child, or a flag at half-staff. She digs into the grit of divorce, the struggles and glories of parenting, and the tribulations […]

Reverse Engineer

Kate Colby’s ninth book, Reverse Engineer, meditates on questions of knowledge and everyday experience, embedding questions of philosophy and metaphysics with seemingly banal daily life. Reverse Engineer begins with an epigraph from Rosmarie Waldrop that reads, “doubting I love while knowing I’ve wanted to.” In many ways, this is what Colby spends the entire collection […]

The Real World

I’ll begin my review with this somewhat embarrassing disclosure: In recent years, I’ve been basically a TV show illiterate, never having watched popular series such as The Killing, The Good Place, The Real World, Westworld, Game of Thrones, or Madmen. Why does this matter? Not keeping up with American TV programs can limit one’s repertoire […]

The Lookout Man

With a haunting nostalgia that wrestles the past into the present, Stuart Dischell’s The Lookout Man is wise and reminiscent of the best of Frost and Auden. Dichell’s poems bring readers elegies and odes written to honor life and history: men of the early twentieth century navigating a new language, ships at sea forgotten by […]


Rae Armantrout writes with succinct brilliance about immense subjects such as time and the forces that animate the universe. She brings the same concise insight to bear when considering a drop of water or words spoken by a toddler. Finalists, her latest poetry collection from Wesleyan, is a double book of pithy observations and probing […]

Rational Anthem

Casey Thayer’s latest collection, Rational Anthem, is a meditation on American patriotism and the particular brand of masculinity that comes with it. Warm-blooded, charged with emotional intensity as well as wry humor, Rational Anthem takes on the very topics that increasingly divide our political discourse. In this sense, the poems are not always easy to […]

banana [ ]

Paul Hlava Ceballos’s debut poetry collection banana [ ] was selected by Ilya Kaminsky as the 2021 winner of the Donald Hall Poetry Prize. The title does not mislead; the collection’s opening poem “Genesis” asserts “The banana had its own small gravity / and pulled the world when it fell.” Bananas pull the world of […]

Field Notes from the Flood Zone

Field Notes from the Flood Zone, the fourth poetry collection by Heather Sellers, opens by recording the moments before a season of destructive rain in Florida begins. The speaker walks alone and notices details whose randomness confers poignancy: a malfunctioning parking meter, tourist shop kitsch, snatches of overheard conversation. At a bar by herself, the […]

We Are Mermaids

Stephanie Burt’s newest collection, We Are Mermaids, is a time capsule of girlhood, a transfiguration of silence into song, a mermaid’s scales rearranged into poems. Each section begins with the unspoken—poems titled with blank space between quotation marks, parentheses holding air—but like the rest of the collection, Burt transforms the invisible into the visible. Each […]