C.S. Leaf reads poems near an open window.
If there must be a month for poems and their creators, that month should be April. It is possible that youth spawns verse, as it is my experience that the vernal dawn has more frequently led me to study dendrology. I uncontrollably stammer syntax that begins to rhyme at some tolerant listener while the Fraxinus americana blossoms swirl a crown around our brows, even as I am fully aware that my clichés are beginning to render me an unworthy sex partner. This is where C.S. Leaf lends us a lexical field in bloom to ease our stammering. Aside from these soft spots, I am as rough around the edges as any admirer of verse belonging to the American tradition, with a passion for violence and the bastardization of language for the sake of democracy—I’m more punk, rebel, and political-dissident than you, I love Modernists, Language Poets, or the brash Beat/Post-Beat; an Ashbery, Myles, D.A. Levy, or perhaps Jim Behrle, who reveal with no frills of form some direct purpose and art. But for Leaf I am willing to admit I can’t leave these things behind: language as music, lyrics that are not concerned with pop music or the traditions of folk, and the way C.S. Leaf can make melodies with words.
On the occasion of the Yale Review’s centennial celebration, Daisy Atterbury talks literary giants with J.D. McClatchy, editor of the literary institution.
“Many of the stories repeat a narrative, looping moments of loneliness filled by a stranger’s fingers. The endings are often gloomy and ruinous, and so are the beginnings. As one of Lutz’s narrators says, ‘a ruin shouldn’t usually start out as one.’” David Varno reviews Gary Lutz’s I Looked Alive.
Al Burian reads an excerpt from his latest Burn Collector: Number 15 with reflections by Jackie Wang on the impact of his work on her world view.
“The true star of this collection is not plot or characters, it’s storytelling itself: the weird literary ventriloquism we perform as we divide out the speaking roles of our inner lives.” Andrew Zornoza reviews Lynne Tillman’s Someday This Will be Funny.
“It’s like we’ve all signed this pact: we’re all supposed to believe that poetry is endangered, and poetry is the noblest of arts, and we must be very careful to only say nice things about one another, even if those nice things are not honest.” Michael Robbins talks to Elsbeth Pancrazi about Alien vs. Predator, Internet fame, and his Seidelian hip hop aesthetic.
“If you keep punching at a man’s head / it will mix his mind. So fast. / So pretty.” Travis Nichols talks to Chris Hosea about his dream home, Sam Cooke, and “poetic machinery.”
BOMB reports on novelist Blake Butler’s “marathon reading” of There Is No Year and talks to Butler about his book, household objects, and the cowardly act of terrorism that is writing. Listen to excerpts from the reading.
“I begin to see burned in every verse / an alcove, a rest, a bloody lumbering foot / I have cracked the words filled with wine.” Ben Mirov reviews Cedar Sigo’s Stranger in Town, an accumulation of poems many of which seem held together by magic.
Stalina Folskaya, the title character of Emily Rubin’s delightful debut novel, is a Russian Jew who immigrates to America in 1991. Her personal history is unfolded as she embarks upon and advances in a new career in a “short-stay” motel in a Hartford, Connecticut suburb.
Matt Debenham is the author of the short story collection The Book of Right and Wrong. Here he and Emily Testa talk about Pee Wee Herman, un-earned endings, and the difference between suffering and conflict.
Due to circumstance, Edouard Levé’s Suicide invites an autobiographical reading. But what you find inside won’t be what you’re looking for. Jena Salon offers an assessment of this artist and writer’s last work.
It’s verse with some burnt edges. Levi Rubeck reviews Julien Poirier’s El Golpe Chileño.
“Jazz gave me permission to not plan so much. When I was anxious I’d planned wrong or hadn’t planned enough, it was kind of like, Charlie Parker says it’s fine. And it was fine.” Emily Testa talks to author Matthew Sharpe.
“But it wasn’t a dark and stormy night at all. On the contrary: It was painfully bright.” Elsbeth Pancrazi reviews Andrej Blatnik’s You Do Understand.
Any Simic reader knows he is a collector of images: when stored they become memories. His poems depend on arrangement, like a Cornell box. Luke Bloomfield reviews Charles Simic’s Master of Disguises.
Levi Rubeck reviews Daniel Allen Cox’s Kraków Melt, a love letter to Poland with all the bloody complications included.
Bragi Olafsson’s The Ambassador is a saga-like account of a poet, who in his dotage decides to undertake a journey to a far-off poetry festival.
My shadow will kill your shadow, reader. Jason Bredle’s new book of poetry, Smiles of the Unstoppable, is out now from Magic Helicopter Press. In this Q&A Jason and Ben Mirov discuss cliché, finger bones, and how art should affect the heart.
Ammiel Alcalay remembers lost time in his poetic novel Islanders. Risa Kahn spoke with Alcalay about what it means to remember in the first of a two-part interview.
Sigrid Nunez’s latest novel examines country and society after the world is decimated by a super-flu. It turns our there aren’t nearly as many zombies as we were lead to believe.
Tablet & Pen, an anthology of contemporary Middle Eastern literature, gives insight into this region in a way American media cannot. Reza Aslan, the anthology’s editor, discusses how prose can both bridge dissonant societies and create cultural identities.
“At some point, since she’s no longer here, the book becomes not just a book, but a sort of document to the person.” Karen Emmerich speaks about the difficult pleasure of translating Margarita Karapanou from the Greek.
The Madeleine Poems is the first full-length collection by Paul Legault, winner of the 2009 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. It is lyrical, tipsying, and impossible to read without feeling: a) envy, b) envy, and c) wonder.
B.C. Edwards reviews Max Schaefer’s Children of the Sun which is absolutely not a book about gay British Nazis.
Danielle Dutton has founded Dorothy, a publishing project, a press “dedicated to works of fiction or near fiction or about fiction, mostly by women.” Anne K. Yoder corresponded with Dutton over email about Dorothy, her literary influences, the book as art object, mercenary schemes in publishing, and her unwavering love of books.
“I’ll stroll through the streets / with a safeguarded strut, / Set up shop in the kissing booth— / Buyer beware.” Levi Rubeck reviews Monica Youn’s Ignatz, an exploration of love’s (and love poetry’s) boundaries.
“Arrogance is the path / we took to the end of the world, it’s our / only asset.” Luke Bloomfield reviews Alex Phillips’ Crash Dome, a book-length poem that wanders through the psyche of someone who has lost his hold on the familiar world.
Добро пожаловать в Россию! Bomb blog contributor Kevin Kinsella reviews Squaring The Circle: Winners of the Debut Prize, a new anthology of Russian writers, which highlights ten years of winners of the Russian Debut Prize for Fiction by writers under the age of twenty-five.