Microreviews, Vol. 7


420 Characters

Lou Beach

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  ($22.00)


Each prose piece is limited to 420 characters (including letters, spaces, and punctuation).  Wait a minute—isn’t that the length of the infamous nuclear agreement that Trump and Kim signed?




Poetry as Insurgent Art

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

New Directions ($14.95)


“Can you imagine Shelley attending a poetry workshop?” asks Ferlinghetti.  No, but I can imagine him teaching an intensive summer apprenticeship for a chosen few on Lake Como.  It will be entitled “You Must Change Your Life.  (And cook and clean for me.)  Major credit cards accepted.”




Is That the Sound of a Piano Coming from Several Houses Down?

Noah Eli Gordon

Solid Objects ($20.00)


No, that’s the sound of sumo wrestlers moving unruly furniture, the wheel of their dolly and their grunts and curses sounding very like a piano.




Fast: Poems

Jorie Graham

Ecco ($15.99)

Cento review: “ready? yes?—if if if if →  you just want → ask us anything—am I human we don’t know that—your every breath is → middle class American → entertain me mise-en-scène → if if if if → you just want—notnot bebe.”




After Morning Rain

Sam Hamill

Tiger Bark Press ($16.95)


To quote the title poem, which serves as epitaph: “one last moment /of flame, a whiff of smoke / washed clean / and gone with the rain.”




Negative Space

Luljeta Lleshanaku, tr. Ani Gjika

New Directions ($16.95)


Cento review:  “The world turns / like two thieves / with an axiom / the parable of fried dough. / I was twelve.  I was a local newspaper. / The sticky fingers of a Roman senator. /  To write our own history / like trying to use a birth mark to make an igloo.”




Blue Rose

Carol Muske-Dukes

Penguin ($18.00)


Should you ever, some late night, dark early morning, wonder why you write poetry: @hashtag: You Must Change Your Life.





Maggie Nelson

Soft Skull Press ($15.95)


Murder = fragmentation = poetry + prose + white space = literary detective – crime unsolved.




The Winnowing Fan: Verse-Essays in Creative Criticism

Christopher Norris

Bloomsbury Academic ($122.00)


Overheard: “That’s a typo, right?  They mean twelve bucks.”  “No, they want 122 dollars.”  “22.00 bucks, right?”  “No, 122 bucks.”  “WTF!”  “You can get it on Amazon for $79.30.”  “For a book of poetry?”  “No, for a book of verse-essays.”




Fiends Fell

Tom Pickard

Flood Editions ($16.95)


Here’s what the nasty winds on the fells do: “Midges yoyo on a thread of sun.”   May such tormenting winds unceasingly blow through our leafy American poetrees.




The Cow

Ariana Reines

Fence Books ($15.95)


Cento review: “Now I’m going to shit / Into your hand. / Because we are American. / Lately I’m really good at sucking cock. / It’s dangerous when you don’t have any money. / Eat me.  Eat me. / I hate the song.”




Wade in the Water

Tracy Smith

Graywolf ($24.00)


Must we call Smith the PLOTUS (for poet laureate of the U.S.)?  If so, someone should be the national PLATYPUS—Poet loitering about transgressive yurts preaching unknown scripture.





  1. E. Stallings

TriQuarterly ($16.95)


Poem as jigsaw puzzle: “Slowly you restore / The fracture world and start / To re-create an afternoon before / It fell apart . . ..”




Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology

  1. Melissa Tuckey and Camille Dungy

Univ. of Georgia Press ($42.95)


Can’t say I’ve ever fished for a ghost.  Not sure what sort of bait to use.  Some ghosts like dead mice, I’ve heard.  Others fresh strawberries dipped in Jim Beam and wrapped in bacon.  Don’t know of any that go for eco-justice poetry.