Reviews & Praise

From Behind What Landscape: New and Selected Poems

Praise

"I am so glad I read this book. These poems remake one’s sense of what a poem can be. They exist at the intersection of memory and oblivion. They are the sip of boiling coffee that doesn’t burn, the dregs of adventure at the bottom of the pot. They are the doctor that prescribes nothing but to whom one wants and needs to come back. A mode of expression that strives to correspond entirely with the poet’s life as a man. All these phrases quote the poet’s own phrases. These brilliant poems haunt me, alter my sense of what a poem can be. What a pleasure to quote this author." —Frank Bidart

"For many days I have lived in the poems of Luis Muñoz, who writes of 'Everything that is of the order/ of transience and its knowledge,' of moments 'where the world is missing,' and it has been a vertiginous experience. He makes things do what things cannot. He is a curator of the fleeting, a poet of duration, and of desire that reaches all the way into the dreams of the beloved. We are in the presence again of a poet from Granada, in the new century, and it is as if memory breathes again 'in the bound parcels of the clouds.' Here is a poet who understands the unrepeatability of everything, our isolation, our communion with others, what moves and what resists, eros and the ineffable, and in these English versions he is just as good. He is brilliant." —Carolyn Forché

"Never have I read work so companionable and desperate at once. This is what Wallace Stevens would call the 'intensest rendezvous,' the moment when the world finds a silent and sometimes terrifying shape. Only a spirit both fierce and gentle can illuminate experience this way, with such a delicate tenacity. If Muñoz offered me his hand for a walk to Hell, I’d take it."— Katie Peterson

Baghdad and Other Poems

Praise

“Like an “owl/ that passes in front of the sun/ in the white of day/ and makes your hair stand on end,” this book comes at you like a strange omen of, it turns out, good luck and death and love. How is that possible? In this book you cannot have one force without the other two. Jorge Gimeno’s poems bristle with surprise and alarm and amazing tenderness. His poem, “Boy,” as translated by Curtis Bauer, is simply the best poem I’ve read in a decade. A child discovers his imagination and its power is a danger and a comfort. Gimeno’s Baghdad is such a thing. In this book we know that “easily everything/ could not exist” and yet it does, right in front of us: fragile, beloved and lost. What a beautifully haunting collection.” —Steve Scafidi

"In these gorgeous and often wild poems, reality and imagination jostle for space. Churches, mosques, and vaginas share the page. Jorge Gimeno is a one-of-a-kind voice who excels at juxtaposing ideas to make us rethink our world, and in translator Curtis Bauer’s hands, these become magical poems in English." —Aviya Kushner

"Jorge Gimeno’s poetry is made of garlic and gazpacho, tobacco and asbestos, gin and blood. 'I am like churches and mosques,' says the speaker of these lean, glinting poems. 'I don’t have friends.' Tracing the arc of a life, the poems of Baghdad question the tenuous border between being and nonbeing. Curtis Bauer translates Gimeno into an American idiom that is effortless, elegant and full of empathy. They give us a bold book that 'passes in front of the sun/in the white of day/and makes your hair stand on end.'" —Yvette Siegert, translator of Alejandra Pizarnik’s A Musical Hell

Eros is More

Reviews

“The voice of Juan Antonio González Iglesias, translated with great beauty by Curtis Bauer, seems miraculous in its clarity. Crucial and inevitable, the poems speak directly from our time, and simultaneously through the layers of time. I lifted my face from reading as from fresh essential water. This is poetry that resuscitates.”
—Marie Howe

“Contemplative and utterly sensual, Bauer’s translation of Eros Is More stands at the brink of oblivion with such tenderness, gratitude, and reverence for the brief bodies of things (birds, lovers, letters) that we cannot help but be emboldened by these poems. Provocatively and playfully they enliven my thinking and seeing: “October, like a truce. Like an absence of everything/ that exceeds limits. May it be for us/ liberation.” This is a beautifully masterful collection, at once lucid and mysterious. In this book we are in the hands of two generous and beautiful poets.”
—Aracelis Girmay

Eros is more or less everything in the magical world of Juan Antonio Gonzláez Iglesias. What good luck to have his poems in the elegant translations of Curtis Bauer, for here is a poet who understands the centrality of love, or, more precisely, beauty, to our works and days—a theme that he explores with rigor, wit, and wisdom.”
—Christopher Merrill

The Real Cause for Your Absence

Reviews

Curtis Bauer is precise about birds, be they crows, chimney swifts, sparrows, swallows, starlings, cardinals, doves, or grackles. Like Robert Frost, he knows the phoebe doesn’t weep, for — like him — he is deeply versed in country things. But Bauer is wide-ranging and doesn’t make a moral distinction between Iowa and New York, any more than he does between America and Spain, where he lives part of the year. He is one of the most tender new poets I know, yet when the subject calls for it, he can be as harsh as necessary, for he is a keen observer, and he is sane, a sane realist with a vivid imagination.
— Gerald Stern, author of In Beauty Bright

Velocity, vigor, heartbreak and vibrancy: you’ll find all that and more in The Real Cause For Your Absence. This book is full of astounding surprises. Sometimes Curtis Bauer plays sentence against line to shake things up before he sets everything right. Sometimes, with just a word, he knocks you out.
— Camille T. Dungy, author of Smith Blue

Spanish Sketchbook

Reviews

In España en dibujos-Spanish Sketchbook, there is a breath of the frontier that nurtures the two spheres of this bilingual collection . The Iberian peninsula becomes an open gallery from which the transcendent I of the author threshes the complexity of his own personality and thought. Through a series of annotations  on the natural, Bauer outlines sensations and experiences in which man and landscape meld. But this voice does not come from a distant, folklorist, picturesque or superficial position. In these poems, the poet filters the fresh and beating life of the encounter with the inhabitants of a specific place. This is done with the obvious objective of understanding and recognizing, but also with the incorruptible wish to deepen and consider. Even though he uses Spanish place names, his vision is one of universal character and commitment; he is well aware that descriptions are intimate states in a transitory period through any terrain, independent of the name it might possess.

Articles

"España en la pluma de un poeta americano/Spain through the pen of an American Poet" from Vivir en Sevilla

Article (in Spanish) about España en Dibujos--Spanish Sketchbook

Fence Line

Reviews

Bauer is at his best when he finds an uneasy but productive balance between his impulses toward surrealism and straight description, erotic mysticism and realism.
—ForeWord

Bauer juggles landscapes—Spain and the American Midwest, country and city—and selves: farm kid, world traveller...all with amazing empathy.
—North American Review

These are poems that chip steadily away at the obdurate outcomes of fate with a realistic and matue vision, and they are deeper and more resonant for that. Bauer is faithful to the small recoveries patience and an honest approach and appreciation in poetry can yield. These are memorable poems you can believe.
—Christopher Buckley, Judge, John Ciardi Poetry Prize

In meditations on his adopted country, Spain, and in praise songs to the American Midwest, Bauer conjures the lives of those who work the land. When ‘the dead return as/ the sound of blowing crickets,’ they do so in a place of stark windbreaks and feedlots. ‘We all need a good branding now and then,’ the wry speaker declares in ‘Waiting,’ one of several poems that explore rural boyhood and the construction of masculinity. Tenderness informs Bauer’s sharp observations: of the beloved, one speaker offers these musical lines: ‘she wants to be a bird/ flying above Barcelona.’ These poems vivify the landscapes that remain with the one who leaves—and returns, changed.
—Robin Becker

Curtis Bauer's poems are as abundant in feeling and imaginative energy as the soil of his native Midwest is abundant in natural life. The poems in Fence Line are impressive in their grace and precision and verbal strength and integrity. But they are astonishing in their beauty, luminousness, and human accuracy.
—Vijay Seshadri

Fence Line is a terrific first book by a young poet with a unique voice and burgeoning powers.
—Thomas Lux

Author Interview

An interview with Curtis about Fence Line.

Talismán / Talisman

Reviews

Octavio Paz said, “Poetry should be a little dry so it burns well, and that way both illuminate and heat us.” José de María Romero Barea has carried that maxim to its greatest exponent with Talisman, transmitting the heat and emotion of his poetry through a breathtaking formal nakedness that makes no concession for artifice or superfluous adornments. After tirelessly refining the poems that make up this collection, José de María shows the reader the importance of the word, of the pure idea, without the obstruction of punctuation marks nor “the mercy of an adjective and almost without the excuse of a particular framework,” as Juan Andrés García Román indicates in his astute prologue. Behind this apparent simplicity, an expression rich in suggestions reveals itself, in images, reflections and sometimes between aphorism and haiku, other times in the form of interior monologues in which the poet/speaker frequently suspends his own capacity to project himself beyond the poem. The poems in Talisman are the result of a permanent struggle between the author and his will to stretch language and convey the exact meaning through the exact word. This struggle wouldn’t be possible without the invisible and pervasive presence, across the whole collection, of a force, a talisman, that irradiates the intimate conviction that there is a final recompense and gives strength to go on trying even though it is not clear “why or for what reason each beat/fatigues the heart.”