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Alien vs. Predator

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  940 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
The debut collection of a poet whose savage, hilarious work has already received extraordinary notice.

Since his poems first began to appear in the pages of The New Yorker and Poetry, there has been a lot of excited talk about the fresh and inventive work of Michael Robbins. Equal parts hip- hop, John Berryman, and capitalism seeking death and not finding it, Robbins's po
Paperback, Penguin Poets, 88 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published January 1st 2012)
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Thomas Maluck
May 17, 2012 Thomas Maluck rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
This review is devoted to Michael Robbins,
and the acclaim in which he's baskin'.
Between pop culture and canon his head is bobbin'
but greater context is what I'm askin'.

"He will make your O'Hara stand on end!
He merges Ashberia with modern America!
Brings back Classic Koch and whips the rest:
On Atlantic, on Harper's, you're not so bazaar,
Robbins melts Frost and gives his asshole a scar!"

Excuse me from the land of bourgeois flaps,
of Collins and Larkin and university-press chaps.
I hear the music and
Mar 14, 2012 Renae rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: NO ONE
I am a huge poetry fan. I love edgy poetry, strange poetry, both the deep and inane.

I do not enjoy BAD poetry.

I can only assume Robbins himself penned the blurb about his poetry collection.
"Robbins's poems are strange, wonderful, wild, and completely unlike anything else being written today."
Strange, yes. Wonderful, no. These are poems that make absolutely no sense and make no statements about anything except for shock value. Borrowing phrases from pop culture--off-color ones at that--and stri
Aug 13, 2012 Bojan rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry

I'm only giving this collection of shit one star in order to remind myself that it exists and is being read.
Nov 23, 2012 Tiffany rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
This book of poetry did not live up to its promise to be a sharp, witty social commentary on pop culture. Rather, it seemed like pointless drivel. The only poignant lines were the ones that were borrowed or reworked from other poems or cultural references. I could see where the poet was trying to create shocking moments, but they fell so flat because they seemed so forced. I love edgy poetry, but frankly, I'm having a lot of difficulty finding poetry that is actually edgy without seeming so inan ...more
Oct 13, 2012 Kristy rated it did not like it
There are a lot of positive reviews for this, but I think I'll be the lone dissent. Swearing and mentioning dicks in poems isn't that new or clever, and neither are pop culture references. I think Michael Robbins was going for absurdity, but instead comes off as that jerk who was trying to prank their high school creative writing teacher.
Smug, pretentious, and wholly unenjoyable.
Apr 22, 2014 Joel rated it it was ok
I can't hate a writer who can come up with lines like: "Your tribe's Doritos are infested with a stegosaur. / That Forever 21 used to be a Virgin Megastore."

However, the signal-to-noise ratio here is alarmingly low. For every bit of inspired will-it-blend goofiness, there are glib lines like "Let's put the Christ back in Xbox" and "Slash is both sad and happy for Axl" (groan).

You know what this reminds me of? Lame nerdcore rap. Give me Wu-Tang, give me Nas, Aesop Rock, etc.
May 27, 2012 Megankellie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to get out of their head
Recommended to Megankellie by: i think the new york times or something
Shelves: poetry, weirdo
Impish, joyous, foul-mouthed weirdo who made me laugh so hard in a review I actually spent $18 on a book of poetry. The title made me laugh and the quote made me laugh. It's this one--

"I look into my heart and creep.
My heart is lovely, dark and deep

I kiss your trash. My boobs are fake.
I have promises to break."

I think a regular book lights up a path in your brain, like all the synapses make sense "okay, your grandma synapse lit up near your cookie synapse and your vacation synapse and old lady s
Mar 12, 2012 Ti rated it really liked it
The Short of It:

Sharp, edgy and bold.

The Rest of It:

I am not a regular reader of poetry. I read poetry in college and every now and then, I’ll come across a poem that speaks to me, but once again, just to be clear… I am not a reader of poetry. I often don’t know how to read them out loud, or on paper so what I look for, is something different from what I experience on a daily basis. I want to be disturbed (yes) a little bit and forced to think. I want to be shocked, but not put off and there is
Mark Johnson
Feb 20, 2013 Mark Johnson rated it it was amazing
If, as Ezra Pound declared, poets are the antennae of the race, then Michael Robbins' antenna is tuned to many different frequencies simultaneously. His poems are densely allusive; pop cultural references intertwine with classical, historical and poetic in-jokes, often with hilarious and always with disturbing effect. There is something of the cut-up method invented by Brion Gysin and W.S. Burroughs in these poems; unlike the Gysin/Burroughs works, the poet's rhythmic sense and ear are everywher ...more
Mark Zieg
Jul 20, 2013 Mark Zieg rated it liked it
I assume you already know that this is not what the title implies: unrelated to the sci-fi/horror film franchise, this is a book of modern poetry.

As to the poetry itself...well. You should probably Google some of his poetry before buying this book, unless you just like diving in at the deep end. I think I had in mind something like Blue Wizard Is about to Die!, which I quite liked, but this wasn't that. I don't know what this is, and while I think I mostly like it, I have absolutely no idea what
Craig Werner
Mar 10, 2013 Craig Werner rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
The language in this volume is fiercely alive, a fascinating mash-up of rock n roll, media chaos, a touch of hip-hop, the kitchen sink. Robbins does a brilliant job with humor based on enjambment and the echoes of slogans from the mid-20th century on. Rhyming and off-rhyming in short poems, he keeps it moving and keeps you off-balance.

What I'm not sure of is what's at the core of his vision (or even if that's quite the right question--there's a bit of David Sheilds knocking about. At times, it f
May 10, 2014 Carmen marked it as to-read
I killed the boar
'cause boar's the game I came here for.
I clear the jungle with the edge of my hand.
I make love to an ATM. I enrich uranium.
Dude, this aggression will not stand.

Good? Or bad?

Black people can't swim. Yes we can.
The giant Kool-Aid pitcher doesn't love
A wall. I replace mirrors with Rorschach blots.
Think some Arnold Horshack thoughts.

What do you think?

I got a tattoo of God. You can't see it
but it's everywhere.

LOL That's a good one. :)

I must investigate this book and get my hands on a
Jun 04, 2013 Cale rated it did not like it
If this is modern poetry, I'm proud not to 'get it.' I would think Poems would have good turns of phrases, but beyond an avalanche of pop cultural references, there's not really much substance here. Maybe it's poetry that you have to hear to feel; the rhythms didn't speak to me at all. And I just had a negative reaction from the start, so putting the time in to try to tease out meaning did not seem a worthwhile use of time or effort. To those that find Mr. Robbins 'viciously inventive' or 'bruta ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Shane rated it did not like it
flipping channels on the boob tube can write poems like monkeys do
Alex Kudera
Feb 21, 2017 Alex Kudera rated it it was amazing
I wouldn't say I'm highly qualified to rate contemporary poetry, but these all hold my attention and he mentions Arnold Horshack.
Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜
"Robbin's poems are strange, wonderful, wild, and unlike anything else being written today."


I have no idea who wrote this blurb, but something tells me they barely read through this book of "poems" and just overheard what somebody else thought of it. I have no idea what it means when it says "unlike anything else being written today" when you know stuff like this was not popular before the 2000's. Try to find literature written in the 1800's that is written like a juvenile 12 year
ben adam
Apr 24, 2015 ben adam rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
For poetry, this is postmodernism's end point. This book is to poetry what Transformers is to movies or Family Guy is to television comedies: a deftly covert exploration in imperialistic appropriation and capitalist product placement complemented by crass shock-value statements made out of appropriate context pieced together into a resounding mantra of nothing is sacred therefore all forms of oppression are wantonly mentionable without any recourse or care. The result is an existentialist meanin ...more
Dec 02, 2013 Sunny rated it it was amazing
Robbins masters in crafting poetry out of the ugly ruins of contemporary culture; he takes satirical punches at modern lifestyle, tradition, literature, kitsch, and art, with delicate but sharp wording that reveal his meticulously stylized poetry. Every verse is playfully layered with educated references; so dense that each poem requires a third or fourth reading.

He criticizes contemporary culture by embracing it, in content and form. Doing so, he achieves an honesty that redefines the trashine
Jun 08, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing
So Shane Anderson (below)is one of my dearest friends and one of the best writers I know, so it's interesting that we disagree so vehemently about this collection! I'm only one read through (picking up all the different references/allusions/play in the collection will take some time, based on what I've figured so far), but my initial impression was very positive for a number of reasons. The interplay between phrases I recognized from a billion different places (being given a court-appointed atto ...more
Scott Emerson
Nov 13, 2012 Scott Emerson rated it it was ok
How to best describe this collection of verse? Imagine a reading of pretentious, intentionally obtuse, guess-what-this-is-about poetry interspersed with the random pop culture invocation of a typical FAMILY GUY episode, and you'd have a good idea. Second star given because there is nonetheless some intriguing imagery and amusing wordplay here, even if couldn't figure out what 99% of it meant.
Jan 22, 2015 TK421 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry-drama
Perhaps this rating is too low. Then again, perhaps I am being too generous. While the wordsmithing and references (high and low) added value to this collection, the inaccessibility of some of these poems prevented me from fully realizing the brilliance of Michael Robbins.
Steven Critelli
Dec 15, 2012 Steven Critelli rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most brilliant debut by a U.S. poet in the last 25 years. Michael Robbins shows us how poetry lives at the center of the cultural vortex. See my essay here:
Jul 08, 2012 Nat added it
While I was filling my dissertation in philosophy of language with boring-ass academic prose, my (then) downstairs neighbor was writing and publishing these poems.
Jun 20, 2013 Nancy rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
A boom box bursting fireworks and punch smart stuff. The thrill of sound -- but at the expense of sense. Wah: hardly anything stuck or got under my skin or let me get this swift word dance.
Aug 15, 2013 Craig rated it did not like it
One of the worst books of "poetry" I have ever read.
Joel Muzzey
Dec 22, 2016 Joel Muzzey rated it it was amazing
funny and fun and contemporary in every way
Aug 31, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
Reading all the various reviews of this book is almost as absurd as the text, itself. So polarizing.

What I love about this collection and Michael Robbins' work, in general, is his ability to craft a poem that is capable of making gigantic associative leaps. Dude covers ground. When I first came across "Lust For Life" in the New Yorker I was immediately drawn to the boldness and risk-taking decisions in his language despite my pre-existing dislike of anything that fell into the overly lyric or lo
Aug 25, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2012
I love music references. I mean I love them. Matthew Lippman recommended this book to me so had to read.

First, the title kicks ass. And Robbins kicks ass all the way from beginning to end. As I moved through the poems (because it sure as hell didn't feel like I was JUST sitting) I got closer to "getting it," like figuring out what is possibly making his gears move. I'm being vague. Because these poems, they are deceptively simple, aren't clear cut cookies, but oh so smart. You really have to pa
David Yoon
Feb 20, 2015 David Yoon rated it liked it
I’m trying to read more contemporary poetry this year, just don’t expect any sort of piercing analysis. You know when looking at abstract paintings someone always says something to the effect of “My 3 year old could draw better than that”. Same.

Still, what we have here is a poetic Paul’s Boutique mashing Guns and Roses with T.S. Eliot - but we’re veering awfully close to Poetry Slam territory. Turns out if you want to write your own with that Michael Robbins flavour will hap
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Michael Robbins’s first book of poems, Alien vs. Predator, will be published by Penguin in March 2012. His poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, Harper's, Boston Review, and elsewhere. He reviews books regularly for the London Review of Books and several other publications, and music for The Daily and the Village Voice. He received his PhD in English from the University of Chicago.
More about Michael Robbins...

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