Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Editor: The Oppens Remembered
When Of Being Numerous won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1969, George Oppen seemed like an emblematic poet for the zeitgeist: he wrote associative verses that were taut and mysterious, he championed syntactic innovation over sophisticated diction, and he embodied an urban political awareness that spoke to the decade’s social upheavals.
In Brief: Bond, de la O, Denham, & Moeggenberg
“This is how it feels, he thought, to be/the orphan of what you sacrifice to see,” Bruce Bond writes in “The Desert Fathers,” one of many stunning and accomplished poems in For the Lost Cathedral. As its title suggests, themes of spiritual yearning and transcendence unify Bond’s poems, which overcome the avoidance, cynicism, and refusal that so frequently inhibit our metaphysical inquiries in their search for “the heaven inside/a handful of water.”
Robert Atler, Editor: The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai
When Yehuda Amichai died in 2000, the international literary community mourned the passing of Israel’s greatest post-war poet. For those of us reading him for the first time, The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai encompasses an exceptional career. Spanning five decades, Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s retrospective gathers twelve previous books and represents the efforts of thirteen Hebrew translators.
Greta Stoddart: Alive Alive O
Greta Stoddart’s third poetry collection, Alive Alive O, takes its epigraph from the final verse of the famous Irish folk song “Molly Malone.” Regarded by many to be the quintessential anthem of Dublin—replete with its own statue on Grafton Street, no less—“Molly Malone” tells the sad tale of a maiden fishmonger (and part-time prostitute, depending on which version you sing at the pub) who dies of fever.
Daneen Wardrop: Cyclorama & Reginald Dwayne Betts: Bastards of the Reagan Era
It is a strange irony that despite all of our war documentaries, battle reenactments, and tourist traps, the American Civil War remains a half-told tale. The valiant sacrifices of everyday Americans—particularly those made by women, Native Americans, and African Americans both enslaved and free—are usually overlooked among the strategizing of generals. In a series of compelling persona poems, Daneen Wardrop’s recent collection Cyclorama strives to remedy this failure of conscience.