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Selected Reviews


"...generated by energetic, unconventional inquiry into all manner of human experience... the sweeping, ironically interrogative aspect of the poems... the authoritative, oddly direct original persona... These are dreamlike yet wide awake poems, and they are vulnerable, despite their big-time bravado. They are doors, opening onto new vistas."--Carol Muske-Dukes, The Los Angeles Times

Left Wing of a Bird

“The sounds, the strategies, the huge presence—I can’t praise them enough. As far as his final gift to us, it is found, I feel, in his direct moral presence and here he abandons a little his O’Hara and his Donne. He doesn’t bespeak the Ten Commandments, nor Solon’s code, nor Hammurabi’s, but by direction and indirection he creates a verbal framework, a poetic tablet, the way a poet can, and if he’s brave enough, does.”--Gerald Stern, The Iowa Review, Vol.35, No.2, Fall 2005

Cities and Towns

“By far his best and most ambitious book to date and one of the best of last year….Vogelsang has found an interrogating voice at once dissembling and direct—and by direct I mean free of any rhetorical reference that doesn’t lead us immediately to his moment. Swiftian in his cagey unreliability, a kind of moral indignation, a menacing anger, Vogelsang has created the rare sound of dark, Juvenalian complaint. The tone feels barely contained, the ardent big talk almost too big for the imagination asked to hold it. ‘Big’ also applies to the size of the heart in these poems, their ability to find and magnify the emotion suddenly, instantaneously.”--Stanley Plumly, Field, Number 56, Spring 1997

Twentieth Century Women

“The world according to Vogelsang is three-fifths reality and two-fifths dream, but the resulting surface is so artfully camouflaged that it’s impossible to know which is which. You feel that you are standing on a curb… and that a step in the wrong direction might plummet you into the bottomless pit of a dream. A step in the right direction, however, might land you a little farther up the slope of reality where the air is refreshingly free…and perfumed with a certain spice that leads you to believe momentarily at least that the world has taken a turn for the better and that you are getting your life together. Vogelsang’s poetry is both abrasive and generous.”
--John Ashbery, in his citation for the University of Georgia Press's Contemporary Poets Series, 1988

A Planet

“Rich in detail and charged with bits and pieces of feeling…which fly off like sparks from a crazily ‘leaping, spiraling planet’ of Vogelsang’s imagining….His poems are full of speech, verbal performances against the ‘speed worse than sex or elevators.’ Characterized by lively good humor and abiding intelligence, this is the debut of an impressive, unique new voice.”--Library Journal, 1983, Vol. 108, Issue 1, p. 54.

From the Norton Anthology Introduction

“Part vaudevillian, part shaman, Arthur Vogelsang is a modern chronicler of that vast catalogue of American absurdities that also provoked Mark Twain and Lenny Bruce—yet he celebrates the tenacious hopes of the hopeless and repeats aloud the snarling prayers of the lost. Always stylistically provocative, Vogelsang uses capacious, serpentine lines to reel out the complex syntax of his narratives. Voice-driven and maximal, each its own tonal high-wire act, Arthur Vogelsang’s poems sear the imagination while either touching or ripping out the reader’s heart.”--David St. John, American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry, W.W. Norton & Co., 2009