I have a new review at the Brooklyn Rail. It is on Susan Wheeler's new book and Ron Slate's new book. You can read it here.
I've been reading lots of criticism lately. I'm reading John Yau's new book on Jasper Johns, "A Thing Among Things". I'm slowly working my way through John Ashbery's Collected art criticisms, "Reported Sightings". I also read Joshua Clover's long essay on the Matrix, which is my favorite non-poetry thing I've read in 2009. Also, I read and have been thinking about an essay by DJ Dolack on the Dickman brothers and an essay on criticism by Matthew Zapruder.
Matthew's essay made me want to write better criticism. This is something I've been thinking about for the past year. I think Matthew is right that there is room for lots of good criticism right now. Criticism that values the integrity of its genre as much as it values its own opinion. I began to read more criticism because I was bored with writing it. I made me feel shitty, even though I always find it interesting to write about poetry. Lately, I've been feeling like there are ways to write good criticism. Or, that criticism can be incisive, ethical, and entertaining at the same time. I've written a few pieces of criticism I feel good about. I wrote one on an anthology of Chinese poetry edited by David Hinton (here) and another for the Brooklyn Rail on a book of Wangechi Mutu's art (here). I also feel I've written some good stuff for Coldfront.
Thank you John Reed.