Nick Laird’s third collection of poetry is Go Giants. (April 2015)


‘A New Way of Writing About Race’

Claudia Rankine, New York City, 2014
Claudia Rankine’s Citizen opens:

When you are alone and too tired even to turn on any of your devices, you let yourself linger in a past stacked among your pillows.
The reader is forewarned: what follows will explore what happens when the “devices” are switched off, not just the smart phone or the iPad, but techniques of evasion and compromise that let the poet exist in the present.

A Lover’s Quarrel with the World

Charlie Smith, Key West, Florida, spring 2010
Charlie Smith’s Jump Soul comprises excerpts from seven previous volumes ranging from 1987 to 2009 (Red Roads, Indistinguishable from the Darkness, The Palms, Before and After, Heroin and Other Poems, Women of America, Word Comix) and a remarkable new collection, forty-six poems entitled Godzilla Street, his strongest work yet. His …

Defiant, Exhilarating, and Poetic

Glyn Maxwell at the Globe Theatre, London, 2008
When poets write prose about their art the result tends to be either a manifesto or ars poetica; a grab bag of lectures, expanded reviews, and commencement addresses; or a manual, a teaching aid. The English poet Glyn Maxwell’s new book On Poetry is a curious alloy of all three, …

The Triumph of the Survivor

Louise Glück, Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 2012
Louise Glück’s poems tend to start up close: there is no scene-setting, no “driving to the interior” (Elizabeth Bishop’s phrase). Instead a voice addresses you from somewhere very nearby. You might find yourself, for example, in the middle of an argument. The tone is detached, frequently angry, sometimes ironic, always …

Hate and Love in London

‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his back garden’; engraving by Max Beerbohm, 1904, showing, clockwise from bottom left, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James McNeill Whistler, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Theodore Watts-Dunton, George Meredith, Ned Jones (holding flower), Williams Morris, Hall Caine, Holly Hunt, John Ruskin, and what Beerbohm annotated as a ‘Stunner,’ likely Rossetti’s wife and model, Elizabeth Siddal
Most of the world’s population lives in cities, and yet in English poetry the pastoral is still somehow the authentic lyric mode. A cloud or a beach or an apple—rarely an Apple Mac. There are good reasons for this. Being “versed in country things,” as Frost puts it, makes an …

The Triumph of Paul Muldoon

Bookplate designed by Thomas Sturge Moore for Campbell Dodgson, keeper of the British Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings, 1909. This bookplate and the one on page 66 are collected in Martin Hopkinson’s Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates, just published by Yale University Press.
In Nicholson Baker’s novel The Anthologist (2009), the eponymous hero attends a poetry festival in Switzerland. Suddenly word flew through the room like wildfire—Paul Muldoon was here! Paul Muldoon! Paul Muldoon! He was besieged. Muldoon is a fabled beast—or a rara avis, as his teacher Jerry Hicks termed him when …

Vespers at Pacifico’s

People have no interest in the slightest but those are swifts dipping down to lift off milli-sips of kinking necklaced noon-light restive on the surface now re-rippled by the beak one forks at the closest interstitial moment. It snips the pool minutely.