The HyperTexts

Michael R. Burch Reviews and Criticism

This is a page of reviews of poetry books, individual poems and his work in general by the American poet Michael R. Burch. Included are full-length reviews, interviews and comments about individual by literary critics who include Dr. Joseph S. Salemi, Joseph Charles Mackenzie, other poets, and the editors of a number of literary journals.



Michael R. Burch is an American poet who lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Beth and two outrageously spoiled puppies. Burch's poems, translations, essays, articles, reviews, short stories, epigrams, quotes, puns, jokes and letters have appeared more than 6,000 times in publications which include TIME, USA Today, The Hindu, BBC Radio 3, CNN.com, Daily Kos, The Washington Post and hundreds of literary journals, websites and blogs. Please click here for the Bio and Curriculum Vitae of Michael R. Burch.

REVIEWS, LITERARY CRITICISM AND COMMENTARY

Links to full-length reviews, interviews and podcasts appear at the bottom of this page.

REVIEWS OF BURCH'S POETRY BOOKS AND HIS POETRY IN GENERAL

"One can actually feel the intensity of emotion bleeding through the pages." (Jim Dunlap, poet)
Jim Dunlap also called Burch's Best Poems compilation "a tour de force of great moment."
"These poems, all of them, possess an extraordinary emotional depth and tenderness, and resonate in the heart as well as in the mind." (Robert Lavett Smith, poet)
"The poems you sent me are astonishingly beautiful. I really love them." (Karen Shenfield, poet)
"Oh these are so beautiful. Like you I still believe that love is what matters and your poems glow with it." (Janet Kenny, poet, opera singer and peace activist)
"In celebration of your creative excellence, I resolved to write u as a friend in absentia who enjoys reading ur works. I do not love u in an ordinary way but in an uncommon way. Your poems really enticed me and have raised a lot of dust within the circle of my friends." (Anyatonwu Ikechukwu Collins, Aba, Nigeria )

INDIVIDUAL POEMS: COMMENTS BY POETS, EDITORS, TEACHERS AND STUDENTS

Epitaph for a Palestinian Child
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

The epitaph above has been published widely with different titles over the years, including "A Child's Epitaph" and "Epitaph for a Child of the Holocaust."

"That poem ['Epitaph for a Palestinian Child'] made me feel cold, like a ghost touched me!" (Maida Mohammed-Brown, poet and peace activist)
"Very, very touching, like suffocating my chest." (Tri Raden Raden, poet, commenting on the same poem)
"This epigram of Mike Burch, an American poet, is so heart-wrenching. It's hard not to share it." (A. J. Anwar, who translated 'Epitaph for a Palestinian Child' into Indonesian)
"Stunning couplet." (John M. Ridland, poet, commenting on the same poem)
"I love the epitaph particularly." (Philip Quinlan, poet and editor of Angle)
"Thanks for giving voice and reach to poets and poems dealing with large scale crimes against humanity. Your internet reach is unparalleled." (Jemshed Khan, poet)
"I think this poem was the most blatant and honest poem I’ve ever heard." (D. Featherston, student)
"Beautifully staggering words. Thank you, for this. I will definitely use it with my students." (Michael Hemingway, poet and teacher of an eighth-grade class on the Holocaust)
"My favorite poem was 'A Child's Epitaph.' Though it's only two sentences it said a lot to me." (R. Thomas Gibson, student)
"My absolute favorite poem was the very first one by Michael R. Burch; it was called 'A Child's Epitaph.' This particular poem touches me and scares me at the same time. (Mike Star, student)
"Beautiful, heartbreaking." (Jennifer Peters Johnson, peace activist)
"I read the couplet first, it caught my eye and I didn't get it. Then I read the whole post and literally jumped in my chair. Oh my god. The whole world should read this poem right now." (Laurie Hilton)
"Love this epitaph especially—pithy, poignant and powerful. Extremely well crafted." (James Sale, poet)
"Dear Mike, Loved every line, every sentiment, every beat that was felt with every word...amazing!!!! This put me through a spin...felt like I have lost hold without gravity but the sting it gave grounded me slowly." (Swati Gadgil)
"The diction was simple but managed to convey how children in Palestine experienced hell before death." (Pena Riu)
"Palestinian suffering! Children who are no longer sure of having a future are silently killed by mortars or hit by buildings, very shocking. What I salute is that an American poet is able to capture the wound very deeply and densely." (Anonymous)
"Other poets try to convey a message by chasing you around with a sledgehammer. Michael R. Burch point-blanks you with fifty-caliber HE. You have barely enough time to think 'what the hell?' just as the slug rips through your skull and boom! That's your head, or what used to be, painting a thick layer of stickiness across the carpet. ... Two lines. Two lines. But—not since Eliot—damn it, Burch! Just ... damn. I don't think a single couplet has ever depressed me so much." (This anonymous review on Live Journal appears in full at the link at the bottom of this page)

"This morning I had 'Roses for a Lover, Idealized' going through my head. It still gives me chills. (Celia Funk, poet and editor of Glass Facets of Poetry)
"Both the pain and the hopefulness of your poem ['Infinity'] are hauntingly beautiful." (Jane Morris, poet)
"'Styx' is a perfect poem. I like when the intimacy of your lyricism is balanced against the impersonality of your point of view. That’s why you make me think of Byron." (Mark Schafer)
"This is a truly magnificent poem ['Love Has a Southern Flavor']." (Dr. Joseph S. Salemi, poet, literary critic, and editor of Trinacria)
"Your poem 'Gallant Knight' is absolutely beautiful. (Dr. Joseph S. Salemi)
"The Gardener's Roses" is a "fine" and "powerful" poem. (Dr. Joseph S. Salemi)
"Free Fall" is a "very beautiful poem." (Dr. Joseph S. Salemi)

EDITORS OF LITERARY JOURNALS

"Your contributions are a touchstone for me. (Vera Ignatowitsch, poet and editor of Better Than Starbucks)
Kevin N. Roberts, the founder and first editor of Romantics Quarterly, led off the first issue of Romantics Quarterly with five poems by Michael R. Burch.
Jean Mellichamp Milliken, editor-in-chief of The Lyric, once modified his bio to read: "Michael R. Burch ... whose poems can sometimes burn on the page ..." and went on to call him a "poet and wizard of the virtual word."
"You write this kind of poem ['The Divide']  better than anyone else I know of now." (Esther Cameron, poet and editor of The Neovictorian/Cochlea and The Deronda Review)
"Your poems are absolutely amazing. I love them." (Mitali Chakravarty, poet and editor of Borderless Journal)
"When I find a submission like yours in the stack of generally mind-numbing pages, I feel both thrilled and honored." (Harvey Stanbrough, editor of The Raintown Review)
"Your poems are more than marvelous—we gasped when reading them. Your love poems to your wife—how beautiful, how beautiful—even a poet's word fail me." (Helen Bar-Lev, artist, poet and editor-in-chief of the Voices Israel anthologies)

LITERARY CRITICS

"Burch is an outstanding metrical poet." (Dr. Alfred Dorn)

"Your translations [of Rilke] are better than [Robert] Bly's, Mike, better than any I've seen." (Lewis Turco, poet, critic and author of The Book of Forms)

Dr. Joseph S. Salemi said this about every poet he publishes in his invitation-only literary journal: "There is no slush-pile for TRINACRIA; every poet in the magazine is there because I specifically invited him to submit. I only invite people whose work has consistently shown itself to be serious, well-formed, and intelligent, as well as metrically sound." Dr. Salemi published twenty poems by Burch in his literary journal, with the following comments: "Love Has a Southern Flavor" is "a truly magnificent poem." And later, "Love Has a Southern Flavor" is "as I have already said, a wonderful poem." Also, "I'd like to have the very beautiful poem 'Free Fall' for Issue # 8 of TRINACRIA." Also, "The epigram ['The best tonic'] that you came up with is quite good. Concise, pithy, and worthy of Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin." Also, "I would like to print 'The Last Enchantment' in Issue #7 of the magazine, which will be out late this spring. It is a lovely poem." Also, "I wanted to comment on your fine poem 'The Gardener's Roses,' which I read with pleasure. The story of Mary Magdalene and the 'ortolanus' whom she supposed that she was speaking to is the perfect occasion for a poem of intense religious feeling, and yours is powerful."

"I am discovering Michael R. Burch for the very first time, a good five years after this splendid post [Burch's translation of 'How Long the Night' on the Society of Classical Poets website], and can only say that what I am finding here and there on the web is superlatively good, some of the finest lyric poetry I have ever had the privilege of reading. And people know that I'm the sniffiest, most unforgiving snob that ever lived. But this is classic verse such as the world has always understood it." (Joseph Charles Mackenzie, in a post on the Society of Classical Poets website)

"This one poem [Burch's ars poetica poem 'Poetry'] surpasses any other contemporary I have read. This is the restoration of la poésie classique! ... This is classic poetry in the grand manner!" (Joseph Charles Mackenzie, in two posts on The New Lyre website on Dec. 21, 2020)

"Your poem 'Poetry' is really quite something ... [it] has a Promethean quality ..." (David B. Gosselin, editor of The Chained Muse and The New Lyre)

SAPPHO TRANSLATIONS

"I love your 'short revealing frock'–Sappho 155 is hot stuff." (Aaron Poochigian, a poet and professor who has published a book of Sappho translations)
Burch's 'frock' translation of Sappho fragment 155 was announced with a special mention tweet by Asses of Parnassus.
"I have a fondness for these translations [of Mary Bernard] and for those of Michael R. Burch on the Sappho page of his resourceful HyperTexts site." (Connor Kelly, editor of Brief Poems)

NATIVE AMERICAN TRANSLATIONS

"Those poems are beautiful. The first one ['Cherokee Travelers' Blessing I'] exquisitely so." (Tom Merrill, poet)
"Lovely poems! Very comforting! I would like to publish these and few more. Never come across such stuff. Eye opener! (Sunil Sharma, poet and editor of Setu)
"Lovely." (Vera Ignatowitsch, poet and editor of Better Than Starbucks)
"I enjoyed and felt each poem, especially 'Cherokee Travelers' Blessing III', which is unbelievably special. (Jane Morris, poet)

RILKE TRANSLATIONS

"Your translations [of Rilke] are better than [Robert] Bly's, Mike, better than any I've seen." (Lewis Turco, poet, critic and author of The Book of Forms)

Very fine. One of the best Rilke sonnets ['Autumn Day'] I've seen. (Sam Gwynn, poet)

"That's quite frankly stunning, Michael R. Burch —one of the finest translations ['Autumn Day'] I've ever encountered. Rilke would have been delighted." (Robert Lavett Smith, poet)

"These [Rilke translations] are all gorgeous." (Robert Lavett Smith, poet)

"I read them all [Rilke translations]. Quite extraordinary I must say." (Jim Dunlap, poet)

"I love your Rilke versions. You actually have developed a newish genre: somewhat stricter than 'free verse', but not quite 'formal', with assonances and inner rhymes ... Something I would dub 'relaxed verse' ... Very effective and with a nice music to it. (Norman Shapiro, poet and translator)

"Beautiful." (Jennifer Reeser, poet)

"Mike, I have been over these repeatedly, and I cannot say after all this time that there is one in particular which stands apart from the others. Of course, they are all lovely. I like the loose translation of Rilke, which never feels forced to me, or labored. I admire the philosophical bent of them all, and the easy manner in which they unfold. Your sounds are very soothing, all through, and your images never strike a discordant note, or one that rings false, to my ear or understanding. Your volta in 'See' is so well turned! Overall, I would call these equally polished poems. A pleasure to read!" (Jennifer Reeser, poet)

"I see you have translated Rilke's beautiful 'Autumn Day' sonnet into an equally beautiful English sonnet." (Richard Vallance, poet and editor of Sonneto Poesia)

"'Autumn Day' is nicely done and starkly portrays life's denouement when the only remaining prospect is yourself. It happens that way for many. I like how he abruptly shifts from the grand finale to the grim facts. Fall now often passes unnoticed. Even spring is barely seen. I like the poem." (Tom Merrill, poet)

"We discussed this lovely poem ['Autumn Day'] in our Poetry Group, and I think your translation makes sense without the poem losing its mellifluousness, the careless largesse of nature, interspersed with lonely moments of the protagonist, like shadows of the drifting leaves spiraling downwards." (Sultana Raza, poet)

"Great translation, Michael – Love Rilke, Love this poem ['Autumn Day']." (Ford Hume, poet)

POEMS WRITTEN BY OTHER POETS

"English lacks words strong enough to properly praise his poem [Burch's poem 'Poetry']." (Edward C. Hayes II, in a July 3, 2021 post on The New Lyre website)

“Amen,” quo Jobsen, “but where I mean to lie
Shall be nay whips, but rhymes by Burch
To scourge the fakirs by
And to the tin-eared Culture Corps
Finally put the lie.”
— With apologies to Mr. Kipling,
Edward C. Hayes II, July 2021

Robert Lavett Smith dedicated his poem “Feverish Aubade” to Burch.

FULL-LENGTH REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS

David B. Gosselin, editor of The Chained Muse and The New Lyre, wrote a review of Burch's poetry in which he called Burch an "English Goethe." However, the review was published in The New Lyre and does not currently appear online. Gosselin led off the first issue of The New Lyre with five Burch poems: “Distances,” “Will There Be Starlight,” “Water and Gold,” “Lady’s Favor” and “Regret” and incuded the review and a large number of Sappho translations by Burch.

Live Journal Review of Michael R. Burch and The HyperTexts

Poet’s Corner: Russell Bittner's Interview with Michael Burch

PODCASTS

Podcast Review by David B. Gosselin and Adam Sedia: The Timeless Poetry of Michael R. Burch, with nine poems recited and discussed.

The HyperTexts