We are grateful to NewPages for carrying Kimberly Steele’s thoughtful review of Michael Klein’s then, we were still living.
Klein transitions into a different kind of vocabulary on the topic of death without setting off any alarms, subtly restructuring the way we perceive the chasm between the living and the dead. His treatment of the matter is so casual and understated that the leap feels natural and comfortable. By the time we notice him tiptoeing around our preconceived notions, he has already stomped straight through the heart of them. . . .
September 11 poetry often feels entitled to devolve into indulgent sentimentality without providing textual justification, but while Klein’s work has a tendency to be melancholy and thoughtful, it never encourages gratuitous sniveling. He avoids this gaping pitfall, much to the reader’s relief, partly by using the terrorist attack as both example and metaphor, but never as end in itself. The poems are “about” something else—a recalibration of life and death, an inversion of our dearly held philosophies that no longer hold up. . . .
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