Poetry Archive

Refusing Detachment in Ada Limón’s The Hurting Kind

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Limón’s new collection refuses numb detachment or an easy forgetting. She affords constant dignity to those whose fragilities are too often framed as liabilities, those who can’t (or won’t) avoid the incessant constellating of experience and memory.

The Body Family’s Sharp and Intimate Portrayal of Trauma

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Here we have trauma in its contradictory particularity, its incalculable aleatory combinations—not flattened or reduced at all, but sharp, salient, and intimate.

Collective Despair in Ana Blandiana’s Five Books

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The poems in Romanian poet Ana Blandiana’s collection offer an uncensored, searing reality of the poverty that Communism created, depicted as an imagistic tragedy from the perspective of those who suffered through it.

Facing Pandemic Memories in Mary Jo Salter’s Zoom Rooms

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The poems in Mary Jo Salter's collection invite readers to consider what we will remember from a time that feels unforgettable now. As COVID-19 begins to take up less and less space in our heads, will it be more than distant memory, something almost unintelligible to future generations?

Exploring “Withoutness” in Solmaz Sharif’s Customs

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Solmaz Sharif’s language is spare and all the more sharp for what remains. Her poems explore “withoutness” in one’s history, and it’s through that withoutness that this collection takes shape, revealing an enormity of presence, of emotion, and of meaning.

States of Unknowing in Paul Tran’s All the Flowers Kneeling

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Tran’s poems are an antidote to a world that asks us to prioritize progress over reflection, mastery over ambiguity. Their collection is a necessary reminder that states of unknowing, too, are fruitful.

Pleasurable Disorientation in Lee Young-ju’s Cold Candies

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The experience of reading Lee Young-ju’s collection is to find oneself suspended in an unfamiliar zone, and the disorientation is pleasurable.

Inheriting Trauma in How to Not Be Afraid of Everything

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Jane Wong’s new poetry collection suggests that historical trauma does not evaporate between generations—its traces leak into the bones of the children, and even of the grandchildren . . . A triumph of formal ingenuity.

The Wilderness of Language in Atsuro Riley’s Heard-Hoard

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In the collection, language, like nature, is elemental—a way of speaking and being in the world . . . Riley’s inventiveness is an invitation to notice language’s connection to the natural world.

Sandra Lim’s Rigorous Thinking in The Curious Thing

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Sandra Lim is a poet whose straightforward yet daring intelligence demands a reader keep up. The poems in her third book evoke a mind constantly examining itself and the world it occupies.