Ange Mlinko’s new book of poetry, Marvelous Things Overheard, expresses our contemporary experience by way of micronarratives, using poetry’s familiar lens of myth, fable, and anecdote, and overlaying these with the received “truth” of the arts, science and technology as they are filtered through our national experiences and family histories. The psychological perspective, one that Mlinko surely sees as uniting us with ancients, discloses an unsettling arrhythmia at the heart of our existence in the modern world.
Concluding his essay on Wallace Stevens in Poetry and the Age, Randall Jarrell commented: “A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.” If that is so, Seamus Heaney was a lightning rod.
Flatrock is a very impressive first book by any standard. Its reeling portraits of lower class life hearken to the rough speech, coarse sentiments and unapologetic sexuality of Emile Zola’s Germinal or Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road by employing neo-romantic realism and social comment to create an exciting visceral experience for the reader. Ms. Lock’s voice, by turns perceptive, witty and tart, and yet still capable of great tenderness, is remarkably consistent throughout, . . .
Fried is one of the most engaging contemporary poets writing today, for she is as thoughtful, witty and wise as the best conversationalists. Like two of her favorite poets, Charles Bukowski and Frank O’Hara, her utter lack of self-consciousness allows her to develop a unique connection with her readers, an intimacy that some poets would cut off their writing hands to replicate.