Author Archive

Rereading Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
I’ve long found personal resonance in Adrienne Rich’s description of the struggle to be home with young children while also seeking to do intellectual and creative work. What I didn’t expect in rereading her 1976 classic was how uncannily similar her descriptions of the mid-century institution of motherhood would

Attention in Every Day We Get More Illegal

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Juan Felipe Herrera’s 2020 poetry collection suggests that to sustain the kind of attention that leads to embodied care, to structural justice and community support, we will need both rage and dancing, ranting indictments and ancestral wisdom. Outrage and tenderness are not competing forces but mutually sustaining.

The Interfaith Poetics of Pilgrim Bell

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
For readers who share his sensitivity to the spiritual, Kaveh Akbar forges an interfaith poetics based on shared humanity and sharply rendered difference, manifested in an ethics of interruption. We find each other, the collection seems to say, in our shared search for the divine, wounded and harnessing the

Mapmaking and Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Joy Harjo’s signature project as the twenty-third U.S. Poet Laureate is one of mapmaking: gathering poems by forty-seven Native Nations poets in a cartography of voice. This poetic map acknowledges other maps of colonial violence and erasure, and while poetry can offer no full answer to the pain, it

The Entanglement of Church and Family in Revival Season

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Monica West's debut novel exposes the inevitable risks and losses that come along with disentanglement from family and church structures. Her protagonist's strength, coming-into-power, and voice are compelling, but they are costly.

The Chorus of There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
The new anthology, edited by Tracy K. Smith and John Freeman, documents last summer’s period of quarantine and protest, bewilderment and commitment. Over the pages, the resonances build like voices gathered in a street singing justice songs.

To Tip the Balance

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
The scope of grief is unimaginable. So is the scope of joy. Our first task is to pay attention, but Annie Dillard reminds us it doesn’t end there: our work is also to try to tip the balance.

On Master Suffering

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
CM Burroughs’s poems invite intersubjective understanding, even “so much empathy,” while also insisting on the speaker’s self-ownership, the space between self and other. They interrogate mastery and also resist it; the collection is rife with rich ambiguities.

On Be Holding

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Ross Gay’s book-length poem suggests that within the horror show of objectified Black pain and the not-finished history of stolen Black bodies, the answer is a community that holds each other with care and beholds in Black lives not just suffering but life, dignity, complexity—and joy.