Reviews

Praise for Bone Music (Winner of the Louise Bogan Award): 

Stephen Cramer’s Bone Music opens with a stunning meditation on “Dark was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” the Blind Willie Johnson song that is “touring the cosmos” as part of the spacecraft Voyager’s “aural primer to planet Earth.” Bone Music is itself just such a primer, and like Voyager, its cargo is music, not only the music of the blues and jazz musicians Cramer writes about but the music of his own elegant and gut-wrenching lines. In poem after poem, he transmutes “the absurdity of our glory & our pain” into the kind of harrowing beauty that, like Blind Willie’s voice singing into space, defies the vast silence that surrounds and awaits us all.  This is an essential book of poems. You should, you must, read it.”

—David Jauss

Praise for A Little Thyme & A Pinch of Rhyme (A Cookbook in Haiku & Sonnets):

“If you’re looking for a lyrical cookbook, Stephen Cramer’s A Little Thyme & a Pinch of Rhyme is it! Not only is the book packed with healthy recipes (even the snacks, desserts, and drinks!) but the recipes will have you reciting, delightedly, out loud: lists of ingredients presented in haiku form; cooking directions delivered in sonnets; recipes spiced with humorous asides and peppered with insider culinary wisdoms (from word-histories of ingredients – ‘chutney’ comes from the Sanskrit verb ‘to lick’ – to debates about semantics – do you bring the pot, or the water, to a boil?). Stephen Cramer’s book will make you a more lyrical as well as a more skillful chef, and a more delighted and appreciative eater.”

–Neil Shepard

 

Praise for From the Hip: A Concise History of Hip Hop (in sonnets):

“Stephen Cramer’s From the Hip reinvigorates the now eight hundred year-old form of the sonnet, remixing it to the rhythms and rhymes of hip hop. These sonnets, companions to songs by everyone from the Beastie Boys to Kanye West, are shot through with both nostalgia and novelty. Together they comprise a literary testament to a cultural revolution still very much under way. What distinguishes Cramer’s hip hop poetics from that of so many other young poets is the way he is alive to hip hop beyond the beat—to the image, the style, the gesture. This collection is animated by a voice every bit as playful, spirited, and incendiary as the music itself.”

–Adam Bradley, author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop

 

Praise for Tongue & Groove:

“I can think of almost no other young poet who can claim Stephen Cramer’s lyric authority and self-possession. His odes and elegies capture the grit and delights of New York City in a manner that manages to capture something of Crane’s sense of the marvelous with Oppen’s descriptive acuity. This is to say he follows in the footsteps of the giants—and he shows himself abundantly capable of filling their shoes. Tongue & Groove is a ravishing book.”

–David Wojahn, finalist for Pulitzer Prize

“Stephen Cramer’s Tongue & Groove seeks unity through clarity. Each poem here forms a world of its own, but the poet . . . gives us a map of sound, where the pastoral and the urban inform each other, and the only level and plumb line that matters is the heart.”

–Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize winner

 

Praise for Shiva’s Drum:

“The deepest pleasure of Stephen Cramer’s book is that of standing in community: these poems situate us within a field of citizens—neighbors, lovers, friends, the wounded, the Human Form Divine in the city of love and trouble, where ‘if you knelt each time/ a miracle passed your eyes,/you’d never get off your knees.’”

–Mark Doty, National Book Award winner

“The music in Stephen Cramer’s poetry—Billy Holiday, Bob Marley, the Beatles, as well as beaten grates, singing swallows, and whirring whetstones—infuses these memorable narratives with rhythmic vitality. Cramer controls his lines the way fine drummers use high-hats to sustain a steady swing, but he’s not afraid to hit the snare, either. This is a tight, fully satisfying work. A terrific debut.”

–Sascha Feinstein

“In Shiva’s Drum, by Stephen Cramer, there are poems of sheer beauty in which language is forced up by passion and blue notes soar. Indeed, a new music arises here, at times plaintive, at other times harsh and discordant, always memorable… This is an exciting book.”

–Grace Schulman

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s