With unassuming language and a tendency toward whimsy, Mary Ruefle’s Dunce is a welcomed surprise. In her pieces—strange and brief—Ruefle manages to pack big gusts of meaning. Existential, or awe-stricken, or loving, or lonely, her poems get a lot across in a small amount of space. And for a poet rooted in beauty, she manages to stay balanced in tone and content, mixing in a good amount of dark with the light, much like nature itself—a topic which comes up again and again in her poems. Dunce is a pleasure and a shock to read, and her words’ quickness and brevity warrant many readings.
Who knew the beech was such a complex and controversial tree! This book is an homage to the beech tree - to its spirit, its root system, its meaning for poets, for photographer Denny Moers and mostly for poet C.D. Wright. Published after the death of C.D. Wright, it is a beautiful object to hold in your hands and its looseness of form - poetry crossed with field notes anecdotes and annotations - makes it something to browse or to ponder or to lose yourself inside. As Ben Lerner says in the introduction, "It is both C.D.'s book and a loving tribute to her. To her strength and receptivity.”
Terrance Hayes is showing us how to live and love in the age of Trump, and beyond. Written during the first two hundred days of 45’s presidency, these seventy sonnets of the same title give heart, humor, gut, rage and meditation to what many of us may be feeling; they deal with the shadows of America's history with racism with meteoric metaphor: “I make you gym & crow here. As the crow/You undergo a beautiful catharsis trapped one night/in the shadows of the gym.” (#11) Hayes has re-woken the sonnet so we can dance with it.