Cathleen Calbert

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Reviews, Articles, and Blurbs


"Postmodern in stance, self-ironic in nature, the speaker in Cathleen Calbert's poems leads the reader to tough questions--'How to live, to choose, to justify our choices'--but in verse so exquisitely crafted, lyrically uplifting, and humorously informed, one cannot resist staying the course, poem after poem, even if it means facing discomfiting realities."
--Priscilla Atkins "Vampire Babies & Chocolate Martinis: Habits of Wit in Cathleen Calbert's Poetry" Studies in American Humor


On Sleeping with a Famous Poet:

"Cathleen Calbert's Sleeping with a Famous Poet is a glorious romp of a book. She explores male and female relationships--through post-confessional modes, myth, and pop cultures--with hilarity and poignancy. Calbert's poems are sassy, sexy, smart, and full of pizzazz. Her formal innovations include poems that zigzag down the page, soap opera-inspired rhyming couplets, and an astounding re-imagining of Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book. Her energy is dizzying. Her voice is enthralling. The poems in Sleeping with a Famous Poet burst from the page."
--Denise Duhamel

"I think of Cathleen Calbert as a poet who investigates and celebrates intimacy. She is fascinated by our means of connecting--through speech, culture, sex--and details our movements toward and away from each other in a way that balances intellection and emotion. Itís no surprise that language is the fundamental intimacy for any poet, but in Calbertís work, the distance between the body and what can be said is almost erased . . . . Calbertís vision is sensual and generative. This is a powerful book."
--Bob Hicok


On Bad Judgment

"Cathleen Calbert, in her tour-de-force second book of poems, Bad Judgment, takes on the role of fool: donning masks and costumes, spinning out lines of rapid-fire witticisms. Her narrator is mercurial, moving in an instant from cackling laughter to sobs . . . . In Bad Judgment, Cathleen Calbert dazzles, wounds, and delights."
Liz Rosenberg, The Boston Globe

"The mordant, deadpan attitude of Calbertís second collection finds its appropriate subject matter in the figures that populate her poems: vampire cats and bloodsucking babies, death-warmed-over boyfriends, black-clad academics on the beach. In a dream world full of the living dead, Calbertís voice is the insistent, up-and-at-Ďem whip. These poems have an ironic mission to locate the spiritual and spirited; they blow on the ashes with provocative language and the imperativeís urgency . . . . Calbert presides authoritatively over her own work, and her judgment is refreshingly sound."
--Publishers Weekly


On Lessons in Space

"Cathleen Calbert's Lessons in Space is a wonderful, truly distinctive debut. These poems are richly narrative in a way that has the formal and imaginative dash of real poetry, enlivened by a fresh, untamable spirit."
--Robert Pinsky

"For all the toughness, asperity, gall in her exacting inspection of those circumstances we find so hard to make outóadolescence, marriage, love, la condition fťminineóthere is an abiding sweetness in Cathleen Calbertís poems, honey at the heart or at some other center. Her poems are like pomes, indeed, delectable within the rind, but guarded, sly."
--Richard Howard





Cathleen Calbert is the author of one short story collection, The Ten Worst Human Fears (Rooster Hill Press), as well as three books of poetry: Lessons in Space (University of Florida Press), Bad Judgment (Sarabande Books), and Sleeping with a Famous Poet (C.W.Books).

Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous publications, including Fiction, The Hudson Review, Ms. Magazine, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, and The Womenís Review of Books.

She has been awarded The Nation Discovery Prize, the Gordon Barber Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the MacLeod-Grobe and the Bullis-Kizer Award, both from Poetry Northwest, the Sheila Motton Book Prize from the New England Poetry Club, and a Pushcart Prize.

Currently, Cathleen Calbert is a Professor of English at Rhode Island College.