“Grief repairs grief,” Michael Robins writes in The Next Settlement, and in these meditative poems, voices map the world with precision as a way to mend the holes they find in it. Pristine natural landscapes provide a jarring counterpoint to troubled internal terrain. These enigmatic scenes are masterfully rendered with a photographer’s eye.
“Michael Robins’ prismatic poems open windows, then close them, so we’re always getting glimpses of light that suggest a larger world. With never a syllable to spare, these poems are beautiful and haunting. I know of nothing like them.”
“The Next Settlement is a finely honed, resonant collection of poems, sharp and vivid in language, uncompromising in judgment. The voice in this book is unsparing, often distressed, and involved in a world which is intrusive, violent, and deeply deceitful, where honesty and compassion are sought for in vain, and refuges for the mind are rare.”
“With the precision of a diamond cutter, Michael Robins taps into the harsh murmurs of the daily world. ‘How difficult,’ he writes, ‘to vanish in the daily event.’ Difficult because to vanish in ‘the daily event’ is to ignore the news that makes up its existence, and yet he doesn’t want to be the center of attention either. This is how far we have gotten since Baudelaire, the first poet of the city, who envisioned the poet as an albatross doomed to walk the earth with oversized wings. Nearly one hundred and fifty years later, Robins envisions the poet as ‘larvae’ teeming with voices: ‘We carry twenty times our weight.’ These poems do more than carry their weight. If only we could all reach that state of responsibility.”
“It makes sense that Michael Robins’ engaging first collection includes many different poems by the same title, ‘Recurrent Dream.’ This is a dream-like book. The originality of his language and seductiveness of his rhythms make it feel as if I’ve been given access to a consciousness related to but not limited by waking life. When he writes ‘We sold each song for the pull/of present song, the bent hook/drawn through a muscled throat/& held, reverence of our breath,’ these claims for immediacy and nuance are claims The Next Settlement upholds. I am enchanted by these poems.”