"So much contemporary poetry has a self-enthralled quality to it. I don't necessarily mean that it's obsessed with the self, though almost always in mediocre art one smells, as Iris Murdoch said, 'the fumes of personality.' What I mean here, though, is that in much contemporary poetry you can fell conspicuously one of two things: either the poet is very self-conscious about his means of expression and never lets you forget that, or there's a kind of implicit, self-congratulatory pleasure at not worrying much about the means of expression. In the first instance, you get work that's endlessly coiled into itself, too reflexive to say anything clear about the world. I'm a poem! it screams at you in every line. In the second, you get work that's too slack to say anything memorable about the world. You feel the poet wrote it while eating breakfast; you can almost hear him chewing."
New issue of Free Verse includes new poems by Brenda Hillman, Boyer Rickel, Donald Revell, Andrew Grace, Maxine Chernoff, and more, including new translations of Holderlin by Paul Hoover, poetry from the West Coast of Scotland by Gerry Loose, reviews of Alex Lemon and W.G. Sebald, and Jon Thompson on Susan Howe