Poet Reviews Poet Reviewer
So what is it that a good book of poems maketh that reaches it to the level of New York Times best poetry 2018? I have no idea of who the reviewer is but what qualities of fine poetry does he reveal?
These are the books:
HUMAN HOURS, by Catherine Barnett
THE POPOL VUH, translated by Michael Bazzett
YEARS, MONTHS, AND DAYS, by Amanda Jernigan.
DARK WOODS, by Richard Sanger.
WADE IN THE WATER, by Tracy K. Smith (our poet laureate)
A MEMORY OF THE FUTURE, by Elizabeth Spires
LIKE, by A. E. Stallings
TRANSACTION HISTORIES, by Donna Stonecipher.
BLOOD LABORS, by Daniel Tobin.
HEY, MARFA, by Jeffrey Yang.
Now meander over what he says:
a superb ear
devastating slant rhyme
domestic poem command
unique and subtle challenges
quiet showcase in tone management
mordant yet romantic
seemingly unrelated observations
meticulously knit together
poetic equivalence of a chord
robust formally dexterous writing
hypnotic deeply strange creation saga
playfully exacting lines
Combine all these together – ah! wishful thinking. But study them at least, and you shalleth be proud. The task now is to check and see which of these titles appear in other end-of-the-year lists and to ask why.