CJ Evans’ A Penance Reviewed in HuffPo

Just when you’re about to write off the Huffington Post forever as a glorified press release recycling mill, they go and give a sterling review to A Penance by poet CJ Evans.

Of all the books under review here, A Penance is, on its surface, the most conventional. It contains pretty much what you would expect to find in a book of poems: couplets, sonnets (some entitled “Aubade”), even a modified sestina. All the poems have titles, and all are flush along the left margin. Nothing about the form or typography of the book is overtly experimental or postmodern, which might lead you to think the poems are predictable. How wrong you would be. A few things make this debut collection neither predictable nor conventional, the most impressive of which is a riveting combination of intensity and accessibility. Beautiful lines are not new to poetry, but beauty and approachability don’t always chat each other up in contemporary poetry. Evans wants to change that.

CJ’s a friend fo mine, and this opening paragraph is very true to both the person and the poetry. There’s very little to A Penance that is ostentatious or otherwise crying out for you to love it as experimental work, and that’s probably a big part of why I’ve found much more of interest and of true experimentation in it than in most new books I read.

Recent Posts

Criticism Isn't Free

CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!

You could also purchase one of my acclaimed ebooks.

Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

Shop though these links = Support this site

Copyright © 2018. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.