Category: Poetry Reviews

A review of I Have Decided to Remain Vertical by Gayelene Carbis

An old literature professor I once had used to say, regarding the writing of poetry, “Don’t use the I”, “Don’t talk about feelings”, “Don’t be personal”, “Don’t use dialogue in poetry”. In I Have Decided to Remain Vertical Carbis breaks every rule, and the result is magnificent.

A review of Magician Among the Spirits by Charles Rammelkamp

In any biography of a great and celebrated figure, we’re always carried along by the climb to the top of their field.  And it’s the same here.  We applaud as Houdini goes from triumph to triumph, accompanied by his darling wife Bess, and even more by his first great love, his Mama.  Inevitably, the crash occurs, if not the fall from grace, then at least the consequences of advancing years. 

A review of Hello Nothingness by Eric Stiefel

The contradictory images reflect themes throughout Stiefel’s verse, which oscillates between nihilism and contentment – or at least resignation and a sensual appreciation of the ephemera of the world. As he writes in the opening poem, “Lest”: “I devour everything I can, the mind defaced, a tattered gown, strawberry leaf, a statue, half-submerged.”

A review of thresholds by Philip Radmall

This ability to make us, as readers, ‘opener and unfamiliar’ is one the poet exploits deftly, peeling away any preconceptions we may have until we, too, see and feel his world anew. In part, this is down to his style. A novelist as well as a poet, Radmall’s poetry has many prose-like traits, in particular a freedom from rhyme or metre, heavily enjambed lines, and the hovering arc of a narrative.

How Light Comes Up Off the Lake: a review of Old Snow, White Sun by Caroline Goodwin

Not at all self conscious, these poems are quite deliberate, the made thing. Each has its note of authority, as in the first poem’s first image, “the common loon made a thumbprint on the lake.” Part elegy, part journal, part memoir, part love song, part accusation, part celebration, all in the voice a person with something to say, a poet with the ability to make a word—loon, cattails, meadow—all her own.

A review of Monster Field by Lucy Dougan

The work feels intimate and subtle, as if a curtain were being opened, little by little, inviting the reader to peak behind the immediate appearance to find something more, for example, the simple act of putting up wallpaper–child and father, revealing so much that is unspoken and understood with hindsight:

A reviews of Settler by Maggie Queeney

If I imagine these poems written on canvas, I think of them as “blood-anointed.” Queeney bears witness and makes frank the realities of these women, or the female experience that may read removed but isn’t always entirely separate from us today.

A review of Natural Philosophies by Michael Leach

Leach is a scientist and this shows in his preoccupations, with the natural world and our place within it as actors, colonisers, in sickness and caregiving. The focus moves from heavenly bodies to human ones, from the earth to the mind, all with a precision that reflects Leach’s methodical process.