I thought about not renewing my subscription to the American magazine Poetry but I've just got the September issue and I'm enjoying it so much I may even send the money. I read the reviews and the comment section first then the poetry.
I mentioned here recently a wonderfully opinionated review in Poetry Ireland Review and there's something similar in the issue of Poetry in a review of a new collection by Robert Hass a Pulitzer Prize winning American poet who served as Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 1995 to 1997.
The review by Michael Robbins of The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems, by Robert Hass has a iconoclastic tone, unafraid to criticise Hass and have a few swipes at other pillars of the American poetry on the way. It's not a negative review, he does praise where he considers praise is due.
Like Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, and Sharon Olds—in their different ways—Hass has made a career out of flattering middlebrow sensibilities with cheap mystery. Unlike those poets, Hass has real talent. The Apple Trees at Olema is a frustrating blend of banality and brilliance.
He quotes Hass:
On the oak table
filets of sole
stewing in the juice of tangerines,
slices of green pepper
on a bone-white dish.
This isn’t poetry, it’s a list of stuff in Hass’s kitchen.
Great stuff indeed.