Craig Morgan Teicher

  • The Odyssey Couple

    We tend to think of The Odyssey as the adventure story of Odysseus’s troubled, decade-long journey home from the Trojan War, his path impeded by all manner of men and monsters and gods. And indeed it is full of action and adventure—Odysseus’s wily escape from the Cyclops, his seduction by (or of) the witch Circe, and his interviews with ghosts at the gates to the land of the dead are just a few examples. But as Daniel Mendelsohn, perhaps the most accessible contemporary ambassador of the classics, argues in his new book, An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic, Homer’s classic may be, more

  • culture November 09, 2015

    The Animal Too Big to Kill by Shane McCrae

    Shane McCrae is the rare poet who can write a poem that is cool, easygoing, and deep—often all at once. He uses conversational language, casual references to pop culture, and slang as though he were talking to a circle of friends. With this mixture, he makes some of the most heartfelt new poems being written, offering a piercing rendition of how a truly contemporary consciousness—and conscience—deals with the ugliness of contemporary America, as well as with the old-fashioned human condition.

    McCrae is the best at this balancing of high and low in poetry since D. A. Powell, our great chronicler

  • Engine Empire

    Cathy Park Hong’s poetry can be dark, depressing, grimly prophetic, and fun—often all at once. In Engine Empire, her third book, she examines how governments and companies use information to control people by throwing her voice in all sorts of surprising directions, assuming the personae of very odd, alliteratively bent characters from a fictional past and an imagined (yet possible) future whose experiences warn us about the realities of the present.

    The book manages to be an entertaining read, even as it says stark and haunting things about race, love, technology, and the capacities of language

  • Threshold Songs

    Peter Gizzi’s poems have always walked a line between stylized opacity and friendly, if melancholy, accessibility, enacting an argument about whether language is esoteric or generic, personal or public, our salvation from commerce or hopelessly commodified. This argument is at the heart of much contemporary poetry, but for Gizzi it also represents an interior struggle between the need to disclose emotion with words and the need to hide it behind words. The interplay between these two ideas has never been stronger than in his new collection, Threshold Songs, in which the author is haunted by

  • Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels

    In several book-length poetry projects, Kevin Young has reexamined pivotal figures in African-American history and culture—Civil War soldiers, blues singers, and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, to name a few. His latest, Ardency, considers the 1839 mutiny on the slave ship Amistad, which was taken over by a group of African captives known as the Mendi, who were later recaptured and tried in New Haven for murder, putting them at the center of the abolition debate. Young revisits these events in ways that a history book couldn’t, telling the captives’ stories in different poetic styles and through

  • culture May 20, 2010

    The Poetry of Rilke: Bilingual Edition

    Rilke has had plenty of remarkable translators, most famously, Stephen Mitchell. All have produced fine versions of Rilke’s unrelentingly intense and sculptural poems, but only Edward Snow has tuned his ear to most or all of Rilke’s body of work.

  • culture November 30, 2009

    Planisphere by John Ashbery

    How is it that a poet can do almost nothing new in a succession of books and yet still sound utterly awake to the fresh possibilities of language? This is the question that John Ashbery’s work has posed for at least the last fifteen years. The criticisms one can make of Planisphere, his twenty-fifth collection of new poems, are obvious and hardly original: Ashbery is writing more of the same kinds of poems he has been at for decades—short, disjunctive lyrics, fragmentary voice-collages, quirky lists, abortive philosophical tirades, oblique meditations on mortality. He is no longer thinking

  • culture September 29, 2009

    Ninety-fifth Street by John Koethe

    Every aging poet seems to write a book confronting his or her own mortality. By the time they do, many have already fallen into a rut, but John Koethe’s philosophical and wistful Ninety-fifth Street is his best book yet. In these accessible and surprisingly powerful poems, Koethe looks back at his youth, his encounters with his literary heroes and his evolution as a poet himself. “That’s what poetry is,” he writes, “a way to live through time, / And sometimes, just for a while, to bring it back.”

  • syllabi July 28, 2009

    Contemporary Experimental Poets

    Much contemporary poetry gets written off as too “experimental”—perhaps because of how crazy the poems look on the page, because they’re full of fragmentary images and half-finished thoughts, because they’re slathered in irony, or because they take poetry itself as their subject. Yet many of the most off-the-wall poets are actually writing about the same things—parenthood, love, sex, the environment, and the joys of literature—as their more straightforward contemporaries but have chosen to describe experience using untraditional means. Here are a few great books that embrace the experimental

  • Letters to Poets: Conversations About Poetics, Politics, and Community

    In the age of e-mail’s immediacy, we have all but lost the sense of what a letter is: half of an extended, extemporaneous conversation that tries to anticipate and respond to its other half, as well as reward rereading over the comparatively long lag time between missives. Jennifer Firestone and Dana Teen Lomax’s Letters to Poets, an anthology of correspondence between fourteen pairs of poets, tries to reclaim the expansiveness and durability of snail mail. Inspired by the centennial of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, the editors sought to create a personal dialogue around the

  • In the post–James Frey world, there is much debate about where to draw the line between nonfiction and fiction. The essential argument concerns literature’s responsibility to the facts: Can a memoir engage in a degree of imagining in the service of telling an emotional truth? Is an autobiographical novel really a memoir trying to pass as a work of fiction? And what of poetry, a genre in which fact and fantasy commingle? C. D. Wright’s One Big Self—the poetic half of her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster (the photographic version was published as a limited edition in 2003)—attempts