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Reviews

Review of Departures from Rilke | Ann Leamon | Harvard Review Online

“In this fascinating poetry collection, Steven Cramer’s seventh, the prize-winning poet and essayist . . . vaults Rilke’s work over the intervening century and delivers a selection of poems that are more modern than their originals yet retain Rilke’s intoxicating combination of ethereality and physicality.”

Review of Departures from Rilke | Dan Carey | Highland Park Poetry

“Readers can enjoy this book as Steven Cramer’s poetry, without even considering Rilke; but what makes this book profound and admirable is the uncanny sense that Rilke presides in the background of every poem, nodding permission to cherish these departures as a fresh product.”

Review of Departures from Rilke | Amy Grier | The Hooghly Review

“The poems in Steven Cramer’s new book, Departures from Rilke, live within a sliver of space between the living and the dead. Once invited in, we discover how this space expands to explore the myriad ways the living encounter and interact with the dead and dying. . . . If we know any kind of loss or grief, we can’t look away from the terribly beautiful, complicated truths of Cramer’s work.”

Feature on Departures from Rilke | Michael Mercurio | Cambridge Common Writers

“In Departures From Rilke, Steven Cramer’s most recent collection of poems, we encounter a great contemporary poetic mind — a ‘lab geek,’ to borrow from his version of ‘The Alchemist’ — engaged in a feat of alchemical transformation using as prima materia the lyric poems from Rilke’s books titled New Poems and New Poems: The Other Part, published in 1907 and 1908 respectively.”

Review of Departures from Rilke |  Nicole Yurcaba | sage cigarettes review

“Steven Cramer’s Departures from Rilke distills life and society’s difficult areas into palatable, poetic pieces which readers can savor and contemplate. It is personal yet universal, linguistically delightful, metaphysical yet real. In it, Cramer accomplishes what so few writers ever can.”

Commentary on “A Photograph of My Father’s Twin” | Steven Ratiner | Red Letter Poems

“Steven grasps here not only his own darkening photograph, and not just the German poet’s dimming memory, but the very moment when we feel ourselves both defined by and inexorably subject to the authority of time.”

Commentary on Elegy for Little Richard| Thomas Brady | Scarriet

“’Elegy for Little Richard’ is a delight: autobiographical, deeply thematic, linguistically glorious, as well as informative.”

Review of Listen | Nina McLaughlin | The Boston Globe

“He is, by turns, matter of fact, nailing the sometimes-funny sometimes-sad absurdity of the world. . . [a]nd warmly sensual.”

Review of Listen | Andrea Read | Plume

“Listen is Steven Cramer’s users’ manual for attentiveness, enacting the salvific (my word, not his) power of listening, of paying attention at all times to the worlds within and the worlds without.”

Review of Listen | Michael Escoubas | Quill & Parchment

In an age of informational overload . . . listening deeply, processing what we are hearing and reading, qualifies as an endangered species. Enter Cramer with his new volume.

Review of Listen | Clarissa Adkins | Sugar House Review

Listen calls us to be aware, and in the questioning that occurs from attentiveness, asks us to listen more fully.”

Review of Listen | Joyce Peseroff | Woven Tale Press Magazine

“With Listen, Steven Cramer illuminates a life’s journey while provoking reflection on our deepest, half-understood desires.”

Commentary on “Bad,” from Listen | Jill Allyn Rosser | Best American Poetry Sunday Blog, July 29, 2012

. . .the clincher that makes this poem memorable for me is Cramer’s exquisite syntax in ‘let’s let things not get even worse’ as opposed to the more idiomatic ‘let’s not let things get even worse.’”

Commentary on Part One of “Three Versions of Mandelstam,” from Listen | Steven Ratiner| Red Letter Poem

“His writing has such keen emotional nuance and imaginative daring, he knows how much faith a poet must place in the art form. . .”

Review of Clangings | Trena Machado | New Pages

Wrenched word combinations arise out of using sound in this way: Obituary magi, greener chameleon, turquoise girls, blue-sprained boys, head’s high beams, glittering snow loaves, glister of venom, seraph cigarette . . . combinations that make our hearts beat faster, our synapses glow.

Review of Clangings | Lisa C. Krueger | Poets’ Quarterly

Clangings is more than wordplay and clever riffs. . . . Language separates us, language connects us – our demise, our opportunity. Cramer’s book brings us full circle to self – who am I without language? Clangings reverberates.

Review of Clangings | Irene Koronas | Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene Blog

This is a fantastic read and an enormous gift for anyone who appreciates good poetry.”

Review of Clangings | Dylan Mace | Sugar House Review

Cramer’s method . . . suggests that the human experience of any person,  be they mentally ill or not, is relatively similar to that of the rest of the species. Even when their communication is garbled and disjointed, we are able to glean meaning and understanding, and to empathize with their suffering.

Commentary on “Nice,” from Goodbye to the Orchard | Anni Liu, Poetry Editor | Indiana Review

“Through all its facets of meanings and associations, the word ‘nice’ returns to us newly full of insatiable longing for all the benign yet essential details of life.”

Review and ratings for Goodbye to the Orchard | Goodreads

Accessible poems and beautiful in many cases, especially the ones that deal with his sister’s death from cancer–I’m always impressed when such a deeply painful experience is articulated in a moving way. Particular favorites included: ‘Lack,’ ‘Body on the Brain,’ and ‘Goodbye to the Orchard.’

Review of The World Book | H.L. Hix | Ploughshares

“Cramer’s poems fight sentiment with our only available weapons: knowledge and integrity. His work recognizes and confronts the stupidity of adolescence, the ambiguity of political action, the facelessness of death, and the selfishness of grief. And ultimately, the poems, rather than succumbing to sentimentality, achieve intimacy.”