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Alien vs. Predator

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  589 ratings  ·  88 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, 88 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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I'm only giving this collection of shit one star in order to remind myself that it exists and is being read.
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
Thomas Maluck
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 1 of 5 stars
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
Craig Werner
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
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.
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
Mark Johnson
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
May 29, 2012 Megankellie rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
Steven Critelli
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.
flipping channels on the boob tube can write poems like monkeys do
Mark Zieg
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
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
David Yoon
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
A bit gimmicky, in that it is mashing up guns and roses lyrics with turgid full meter rhymes – once or twice it would be funny but it gets tiring, in that it is a book of the dick jokes of Superbad + old poetic fixed forms =

“That sorcerer bewitched my penis!
I’m speed and space, an Aztec princess.”

Sure, it is hyper and unprocessed and supposed to be in your face, but the most joy I got from the collection was from recognizing references, slight decoding of lines I had heard on the radio playing i
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.
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
University of Chicago Magazine
Michael Robbins, AM’04, PhD’11

From our pages (May–June/12): "Alluding to modern culture—Guns N’ Roses, Star Wars—as well as the English canon, the poems in this volume make up Michael Robbins’s first collection. Robbins has been published in the New Yorker, Poetry, and the London Review of Books."
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.
One of the worst books of "poetry" I have ever read.
Gabriel Oak
Robbins specializes in shocking, tightly crafted, rhyming verse. He often mixes allusions to popular culture with allusions to classics of poetry, such as Roetke, Stevens, and others. Vulgar, but also incredibly funny and often insightful. The one part of his aesthetic that doesn't resonate with me is its paratactic terseness. Everything comes in short propositional sentences, with little enjambment and almost no connective tissue. This isn't a criticism so much as an observation of a technique ...more
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
I should say, first of all, that I don't read enough contemporary poetry--and I say this even though I have a subscription to The New Yorker and The New Republic, both of which feature fairly good poems from current poets on a regular basis. So I bought this book because I felt the need to redress this situation.

It's hard not to notice a new book of poetry titled "Alien vs. Predator." At least, I had a hard time not noticing it, nor could I avoid the glowing reviews from people I respect and tru
David Fairbanks
There's a musicality to Robbins' poetry that registers with the part of my brain that's drawn to hip hop, but while the clever rhymes, wordplay, and meter are enough to leave me with a smile afterward, few of his poems really say much to me. So why would I give a book of poems 3 stars if I feel like it's not saying much? Because it is choosing to say things beautifully, which is more than I can say for a lot of poetry that seems to try very hard to mean something while sounding boring.
The slew of pop culture references (at times amusing and clever, but often boring) which Robbins includes in his poetry make a challenge to conceptions of high vs. low culture, about "acceptability" in poetry (and thus in art and society). I think Robbins's poetry, which mixes rhyme, meter, and wit with TV, MTV, and diarrhea (literally), successfully makes this challenging, polemic argument, and often does so in humorous fashion. For example,

"Little Bo Mercy in heels and hose,
just under the wate
The poems are made of of familiar rhythmic structures and supersized bursts of found pop culutralese. They're playful and enjoyable and numbingly consistent. I think it would have been a great chapbook but don't see enough variety here to justify a full-length book. I'm curious to see what else he comes up with.
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Author of the poetry collections Alien vs. Predator (Penguin, 2012) and The Second Sex (Penguin, 2014). Winner of The Believer's Reader Survey for Best Book of Poetry, 2012. Recipient of Poetry Magazine's Editors Prize for Reviewing, 2013. A critical book, Equipment for Living, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.
More about Michael Robbins...
The Second Sex

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