Reviews and Blurbs

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"In her second collection, National Poetry series winner Lee (PYX) takes Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass as inspiration for a fierce and propulsive cri de coeur about contemporary violence visited on both humans and the environment. Hindu dancers, Mojave saguaro, death in childbirth, the Navajo Long Walk, Kristallnacht, the Ho Chi Minh trail, DDT, deformed frogs, and the proclamation, 'I want love/ but fear/ it won't erase/ enough ozone/ from the fresh lightning strike' surface in the first 20 pages alone. Like crackling pine cones, Lee's sharp images splinter and spill down the page in urgent, disjointed phrases; those who prefer the comfort of neat stanzas won't be at ease with this headlong dash." 

  — Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal 

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"A pyx is a box used to store the bread-become-flesh of the Eucharist. Lee's book functions similarly, as a container for the daily bread of life experiences — marriage and motherhood, in particular — transubstantiated into poetry. The means of transformation are naturally not divine, but lingual. Packed with extravagant sounds and elaborate vocabularies, PYX is a great joy to read aloud. Picking lines almost at random I find ‘fall's leaf smoke slips in, / a vellum gravy / on our tongues,’ children returning from play ‘shellacked with muck’ and ‘sacristies hold caches / of crutches flung aside / like chopsticks.' " 

 — Joel Brouwer, The New York Times 

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"A sequel or companion to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, . . . [Plenty] is all too conscious of the state of the world today.

Lee examines her own family’s history of glassmaking in America and Europe, and the environmental toll that it has taken since 1892 up through the present. With glassmaking at its hub, the book reaches outward, bringing in the Holocaust, The Sixth Extinction, the prison industrial complex, and the haunting future: if one loves America, Lee seems to ask, what does it mean to love something that is literally toxic? It is a dizzying and stunning work." 

 — Alex Dueben, The Rumpus

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"Here's Hell, and a path. [In Plenty] we have (as Whitman did) Emerson's idea of entranced waiting (solitary, grand, secular) but from a place/time/mind so full, so high in flames it seems miraculous that anyone could be so relentlessly awake and singing there (here). As with the Rite of Spring, the reach and oscillation of pitch unnerves, the volume is high, the tone necessarily and at once keening, meditative, accusing, aroused. In Lee we may have our century's Stravinsky. Her readers will be changed."

— Kathleen Peirce

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"It is a testament to how seamless PYX truly is and how elegantly Corinne Lee’s vision rests, deeply personal yet supported by a foundation of knowledge, which works for her rather than intruding into her project, that the vast scope of illusions drawn upon—at one moment Greek, then originating in quantum mechanics, then surrealism—that her encyclopedic knowledge and undaunted vocabulary have not been mentioned. Her gift is one of tolerance. She can look into ‘measureless waves/ . . . galloping—in random directions’ and not draw back, but rather construct an order that seems nothing other than natural, true, and complete." 

—Andrea Baker, The Burning Chair

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"[Lee] . . . has written a wonderful and strange first book in which poem after poem creates a dance between myth and the everyday to reveal the strangeness of a world we might otherwise call ordinary. As she asks in ‘Ten Cents a Dance,’ ‘Wasn't the goal/ of Venus/ to seduce, to gavotte/ with Death?’ These poems are delightful in many ways, particularly in their exploration of music and myth. Their diction ranges from high to low, a rich tradition in English poetry dating back to Shakespeare. This kind of mixing requires true talent, and Lee offers a promising voice in this tradition. . . . Collections specializing in contemporary American poetry should not be without this book . . .." 

 — Heidi Arnold, Library Journal 

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"Plenty arises with litany and ire to meet the degradation of the Anthropocene, toxic hand of man everywhere complicit in planetary woes. Corinne Lee's epic magnanimously explores the frightening heights and unfathomable depths of crisis through a vibrant, cosmic naming and calling out. 'Wheat' and 'grass' are her torqued, embedded tropes, spinning off Whitman, and a spiritual practice of 'containing multitudes' resounds page to page. History, science, politics, and literary references are encyclopedic here, an impressive sweep of gnosis. This is compelling, bold, and studious documentary poetics." 

— Anne Waldman

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"One of the major strengths of the poetry in PYX by Corinne Lee is its original and engaging music. This music is consistent, finely crafted with . . . perfect melding of subject and theme . . .. As with any strong, self-confident music, the music ringing through PYX has the ability to entice its audience, to draw its audience into itself, and by so doing, offer new experiences of the subjects her poems address."  

 — Patiann Rogers, National Poetry Series award statement 

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"What do you get when Whitman's tumbling excess meets a master naturalist wrestling with the abundance and calamity of the Anthropocene? Our bizarre historical moment sprawls here into a Roundup Ready, gun-toting, womb envying, American insistence on song. [Plenty is] . . . a wild and fevered epic devoted to saving the plenty of the lyric voice from annihilation."

 —  Alison Hawthorne Deming

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"Stylistically radiant and diverse, Plenty is an epic for our time: shattered with horrors and difficult truths, blazing with warnings and, perhaps even redemptively, with the assertion of the capacities of poetry to enlighten and sing."

  — Dean Young

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"Reading PYX, I remembered the ragings of one of Merrill's spirits from Changing Light at Sandhover, who entreats his audience to use, use, use their bodies and their minds. Corinne Lee has made a book that evidences new forms drawn from a life being lived at the far edge of what a mind and a body might hold. Her poems are as deeply celebratory as they are grief-struck, and her diction is luscious, crowded and spare, smart and bare as the line warrants. The result is a collection that approaches and surprises and deepens on absolutely contemporary terms, wonderfully able to face and sing what was, is, and might be. These are poems to be held and carried by."

  — Kathleen Peirce 


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"[Lee] is a writer not content unless her . . . words are jumping off the page . . . PYX is truly ambitious."  

  — Joanna Pearson, Small Spiral Notebook