Book Review: Jensen-Stevenson, Spite House

OK, footnotes might seem boring, and they might frighten some potential book buyers, but any book concerning the controversy over Robert Garwood needs rigorous footnotes identifying the source or sources of various assertions. In Spite House (1997), the few footnotes are really odd; some minor matters are footnoted, major matters are not. The footnotes appear […]

Book Review: Alan Farrell, Expended Casings

In his foreword (whimsically rendered “Deployed Forward”), Alan Farrell ridicules pretension, incomprehensibility, poetry as therapy, literary critical jargon, posturing, the cult of free verse, swingebuckling, and shallow war poetry cliches. Nevertheless you sense that he is trying to be restrained and polite, and barely succeeding. Farrell’s reader might then expect carefully crafted and elegantly ironic […]

Book Review: William Logan, The Undiscovered Country

Poetry is the only art form in America that I can think of that no longer has a bracing tradition of real criticism. Novels, plays, films, operas . . . we expect critics to note honestly whatever flaws and failures they see in specific works. Critical reviews often hurt sales and egos, but without them […]

Book Review: Stephen Burt, Close Calls with Nonsense

A few years ago nearly everyone thought that poetry was finally dead, that the few remaining poets were living solitary lives as poetry presses shut down and poetry readers diminished. Then along comesĀ  technology to the rescue: new printing technologies, vast social networking sites, poetry blogs, online publishers, and inexpensive personal web sites. Now new […]