Poetry Review: Richard Siken's War of the Foxes

Richard Siken's debut collection, Crush, was one of those rare hits that won rewards and was widely read among poetry fans. It connected with audiences because it explores a fractured romantic relationship through hot-blooded cinematic tropes; it is a sexy, heart-breaking, and frantic book. Siken has followed up that debut with another collection that uses art to explore larger themes. In War of the Foxes, the poet considers violence and identity through painting. The book is quieter and more restrained than Crush but still focused on image. The speaker in War has a melancholy like in Crush, but he sounds more contemplative and at rest in the new book. (Perhaps it is a misstep to infer that the speaker in both books could be the same, but it is an interesting exercise to read the collections back-to-back making that assumption.) Following up a widely loved debut poses challenges. However, Richard Siken has forged ahead with another striking volume that shows his infatuation with the arts continues to help us better understand our selves.

Sample Poems:
"The Way the Light Reflects"
"Detail of the Hayfield"
"Detail of the Fire"


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