Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sarah Carson's Poems in Which You Die

I review Sarah Carson's Poems in Which You Die at Arsenic Lobster.

"As gruesome an image as this is, the important part is that their bodies will be mixed together, splattered on a wall—no one being able to tell where one ends and the other begins, which is yet another grimly funny take on a common sentiment in love songs. This is the poet’s gift—to take these very common sentiments and recharge them with her dark humor and vivid, movie-thriller type situations."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Simone Muench's Wolf Centos

I Review Simone Muench's Wolf Centos at PANK

"A true believer in the art of the cento, Muench demonstrates that it can go far beyond the limits of pastiche and homage. The cento is the perfect type of poem for this collection, where anxiety of form is a necessary component of the poetics. The cento is always aware of the other face “under,” “in” or “behind,” as it were, and that is the very essence of this collection."

Friday, August 1, 2014

New Poems Over at PANK

Check out three poems from my "It's Best Not to Interrupt Her Experiments" series over at PANK.

"but to be a crash of a structure,
like being known for a lucky hunch,
was like being raked across the face
by an infant
you loved and misread"

Monday, June 30, 2014

Review of Kathleen Rooney's Robinson Alone

Check out my review of Robinson Alone at Iowa Review

"Robinson is finally only himself. Rooney’s Robinson, on the other hand, is an irreducible image, existing in poems that circle back on themselves, in letters he wrote but did not write (the fifteen centos based on Kees’s actual letters Rooney includes in the text), and in homage after homage to the man he is and is not, which Rooney herself admits is a strange aftereffect of those who come to the mystery of Weldon Kees—they can’t help writing about him—and now I, too, am caught in the cycle myself to add to poor Robinson’s misery."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Great Grant News!!!

I am happy to announce that I am the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Grant.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of House on Fire

Review of Susan Yount's new book at Cleaver Magazine.


House on Fire is rugged, self-aware, and raw; it champions those who take blows from all sides and come out swinging wild even when they have little hope of escape—maybe especially when they have little hope of escape. It’s great success is that it holds some portion of anger in reserve—avoiding the too-easy notion of mere acceptance—while still managing to find a way to move forward and make a life worth fighting for.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Micro-review of O, Democracy!

Kathleen Rooney’s novel, O, Democracy! tells the story of an idealist, a twenty-something working in the Chicago office of the Senior Senator of Illinois—an experience Rooney had first explored in her collection of essays, For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs. Her protagonist may be an idealist but O, Democracy! is not really about idealism—at least not of the naïve or overly simple kind. The more knowledgeable, self-aware and dedicated her protagonist is the more tragic the story—but also the sweeter. This is clearly a love song to American democracy as it really is and as it could be but never quite is. The strength of the book resides in its lack of too-easy cynicism and also its avoidance of dogmatic ideological posturing. Its charm, however, belongs solely to Colleen Dugan—a self-defined do-gooder who is always coming up against the limits of her own vanity and the rampant sexism that both bolsters and knocks that vanity down. This character—like Rooney’s protagonist from her novel-in-poems Robinson Alone—sees great value in the effort of self-construction. It’s clearly one of the aspects that draws her to a life in politics, but it is also a constant source of conflict. Colleen likes her pretty dresses but so does the Chief of Staff, her antagonist and foil. He says that she was “an uppity bitch—quite the mouth. But I thought I loved her . . . for that.” Over the course of the book, Colleen worries over the nature of responsibility on a tiny scale and on a grand one, which becomes painfully acute when a certain illicit video comes into her possession. Colleen wishes to wield power, to have a real seat at the proverbial table of political power, but when she could easily destroy her boss’s opponent, she hesitates—the flash drive containing the evidence burning a hole in her purse: “I went from totally marginalized to I-get-to-decide-the-election in like fifteen minutes. In the background, slowly growing in importance, is the bid of the Junior Senator of Illinois for president—complicating and paralleling Colleen’s professional, ethical and personal dilemmas in surprising ways. Rooney’s book is a page-turner, a political thriller lacking nearly all of the clichés of the genre and instead giving the reader a complex look at the nature of active citizenship.
--Carlo Matos