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4.41 of 5 stars 4.41  ·  rating details  ·  6,510 ratings  ·  459 reviews
Richard Siken’s Crush, selected as the 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, is a powerful collection of poems driven by obsession and love. Siken writes with ferocity, and his reader hurtles unstoppably with him. His poetry is confessional, gay, savage, and charged with violent eroticism. In the world of American poetry, Siken's voice is striking.
In her introductio
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published April 11th 2005 by Yale University Press
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"and the gentleness that comes,
not from the absence of violence, but despite
the abundance of it.

I read Richard Siken's poem "Wishbone" on the internet. I read it once and closed the page. The next day I was painfully aware I couldn't leave it behind. That my mind kept circling back to his words. So I read it and re-read it again and again. Dozens of times, until I realised it would never be enough, so I ordered his book.

I have never in my life anticipated the arrival of a book more than I did w
Jul 26, 2007 Nick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me after I read this. There's a thread of a story here, but it's abstract and shadowed. Almost a ghost of a story. What's left are the raw emotions of the actual experience, which is what great poetry is: distilling the massive events that make up a life until there's nothing left but the urgent parts, the ones that carry the meaning.
When I started reading this I couldn't believe what I got myself into.

I am not a poetry fan so some parts at the beginning cracked me up and I tried to find some sense in them and I failed.

But later... Some parts... Most parts ... Literally broke my heart...

And for those parts I am giving this 5 stars because I can't 4.5.



(view spoiler)
Patrick Duggan
SIken's Crush, his first book which also won the Yale Young Poets' award in 2004, is one of he most complete works of poetry I've come across in years.

He uses the pacing of his long line to slow time, and create a darker atmosphere within the verse, where shadows move from walls and creep along the legs of lovers. Time drags in elongated moments, or appears in flashes of memory and scenescape. His pace and image teach us fight from the first two pages how to read the work, and how to prepare yo
Ugh why does everyone love this book? Siken, the winner of the 2004 Yale Series, is clearly a capable poet, and there were a few moments in this collection that were beautiful and lucid. Otherwise, though, the poems are so overblown (too many words going in too many directions) and drowning in imagery of bodies, knives, and death. Oh, and SO much cheesy, disembodied dialogue.

The form of the poems in this collection felt like a cop-out: you can only splatter lines across a page so many times bef
Do you remember Prometheus?

That thief of fire who was bound to the rock in order for the vulture to pick at his liver, every day? That liver grew back every day for the sole purpose of being eaten again. The liver wasn’t helpful to Prometheus, it was only a source of pain. Can you imagine what it would be like to know that your liver would be eaten from your body day after day? There must be an immense sense of dread, knowing that what’s going to happen today is inevitable.

This is not a book ab
(I read this sleepless and aching.
I've read parts of this book separately and reading it whole now takes me to places I thought I left, a previous lover read to me a poem by him, I've read lines of the book once so many times that some days of mine were titled by some of these verses.
By the end of the book I was just drained from the bits of me that Siken's words swallowed.
The poem Saying Your Names should be read loudly, so loudly that the names and the verses will take place in your mind and
First, I found this fragment from "Planet of Love" on the internet:

I didn't pay much attention to the feelings it invoked the first time. I remember saving it amongst my favourites and then going back to business, however things changed when I found myself coming back to this exact fragment over and over and over again in the following days.
What did I do afterwards? Right, I searched for some more fragments. And then I just ordered the whole book hoping that unlike most modern poetry collectio
I've had this book on my shelf for ages and have been holding off reading it because I didn't want to read it and it be over. You know how it goes? So I kept saving it. My partner pointed it out to me the other day (I keep it on my bedside table), and said, "uh-oh, she's drawn all over the cover." - referring to my 1.5 year old daughter. Seeing my crestfallen face he asked what book it was and I said, "Oh, just only my favourite." Even though I hadn't yet read it. I had breathed in snatches of i ...more
In an older study advice post on how to approach poetry, I wrote that a good poet should be able to make you feel something, whether you fully understand the work or not:

Often poems are not so much vessels of information, but more like an experience. A good poet can reach out and get an emotional response from you even if you have no clue what (s)he is talking about. Sometimes you need to read a poem a few times before you fully understand it, or you can spend the rest of your life reading a wor
I think that's the most beautiful piece of poetry I've ever read. I won't convince you. Here's my fav poem.

Little Beast

An all-night barbecue. A dance on the courthouse lawn.
The radio aches a little tune thet tells the story of what the night
is thinking. It's thinking of love.
It's thinking about stabbing us to death
and leaving our bodies in a dumpster.
That's a nice touch, stains in the night, whiskey kisses for everyone.

Tonight, by the freeway, a man eating a fruit pie with a buckknife
Jun 15, 2008 Jade rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: “a slender boy with a handgun / a fast car, a bottle of pills.”
this is my coworker chad's favorite poetry book ever. he wouldn't stop talking about it and tried to start some contest with me to see how many he could sell. it was really annoying. then i read it and now whenever he brings it up i just have to sigh heavy because this little book is quite incredible and sexy and pure swimming pool immersion.
I recently bought this book, and so decided to reread it. There is nothing like reading Crush for the first time. The first time I read this book, it was like being attacked with language. Emotions were being thrown at me: love, panic, terror, guilt, regret... and they were beautifully written and twisted and haunting, and I knew that I missed a lot of interpretation and would one day have to reread it.

For one thing, Crush is my favorite poetry anthology. I LIKE poetry, but I'm not sure I was in
Melynda Yesenia

Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake
and dress them in warm clothes again.
How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running
Until they forget that they are horses.
It’s not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere,
it’s more like a song on a policeman’s radio,
how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days
were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple
to slice into pieces.
Look at the light through the wi
Robb Todd
A small book can tear you in half. This did that. Where does Richard Siken get his words from? Better not to know because how could the species survive if everyone could do that. An amazing book.
I wish I could give this collection of poetry the review that it deserves but truthfully, I find myself unable to write about it adequately enough. The book is so good. It's not often I read poetry and it is even less so that I find myself drawn into it. With this, each poem drew me in. Each line felt like a story of its own and more often than not, I found myself reading a poem further in and reminisicing a poem that I had read earlier in the collection and wondering how connected they were. I ...more
I'd seen this book quoted all over, and I really looked forward to reading it because of those quotes, which I quite liked, but those few that I'd read before even opening the book were almost the only quotes I liked after completing it.

I liked the first poems the most, but I'm not sure whether it's because I did like them or because I was still optimistic about the book. After a few poems you notice the repetition pretty early on. I kind of figured it was a reoccurring theme type thing, which I
Alexis Hall
Brought to you courtesy of Reading Project 2015.

This particularly volume of poetry is profoundly important to me, I can't do it justice in a couple of Reading Project paragraphs.

Also I have thoughts! and feels! and, uh, things.

And writing about poetry is difficult at the best of times.

So Imma going to come back to this.
It is rare that I even try to read a book of poetry from cover to cover, but I couldn't put this one down. And then I thought about it, and thought about it, and one day I was in B&N and I just had to buy it. And then I read it again, cover to cover.

I doubt I will ever feel the emotions pouring out of these poems. I can't identify with the narrator at all, I don't think what he's feeling is healthy - fear, obsession, bordering on idolatry - and that's usually the point at which I stop readin
Jul 10, 2014 Austen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Someone who feels cynical about love...
Shelves: poetry
There is a mania to Richard Siken's poetry. It is wild, relentless, at times darkly humorous, at times despairing, always troubled, and leads me to imagine hat it bursts from him unceasingly. There is absolutely heartbreak and pain at the core of this volume, and Siken's articulations of it are manifold. He seems to be telling and re-telling a story in a myriad of ways, from all points of view--sometimes hurt, sometimes, bitter, sometimes resigned and humorous. But the reiterations are only vari ...more
An emotional wrecking ball. I had to read, put it down, breathe, read, put it down - far away, forget it for a while - and then read and breathe. It is a crush of words, a crush of thoughts and a crush until you almost can't think for the thoughts and feelings surrounding you.

I don't know where to start, but I know I need to keep this and I feel it will mean different things at different points in my life. It's monstrous and beautiful and hateful and loving all at the same time.

I encountered a
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we'll never get used to it.

I know that poem by heart. I think it might be my favorite in existence. I don't know what it is about Siken that hits me so hard, but reading him makes me feel the same snapping-into-perfect-place feeling that reading Foer gives me. It's a connecting. It's that I get it. I see it, too. You're not the only one. I know. To the point where his words have become so precious to m
A collection about love and obsession and sex and violence and cravings and desperation and the fear of being alone. It's a well named collection as love here is a smothering, overwhelming, oppressive agent. The long lines press on in a heady rush more often than not. Siken's good, but I'm not his audience. Love to him is complex and trying, and to me it's much more simple. There are a handful of poems here that I'll return to but none that I need to shout about.

Here's the collection's first po
“He was not dead yet, not exactly—
parts of him were dead already, certainly other parts were still only waiting
for something to happen, something grand, but it isn't
always about me,
he keeps saying, though he's talking about the only heart he knows—
He could build a city. Has a certain capacity.
There's a niche in his chest
where a heart would fit perfectly
and he thinks if he could just maneuver one into place—
well then, game over.”

“Love always wakes the dragon and suddenly
flames everywhere.
I can t
Richard Siken is one of the most exciting contemporary poets I've read. His words are like bruises, love bites, punches. You feel your heart break with his; his longings and obsessions are like splinters under your fingernails, cuts in your lip.

I revisit these poems. I keep him by my bed. I find myself crying in poems I've read before, every time I read them.
Whenever I enter a bookstore, I find myself looking for this book. Whenever I find it I buy it, because I try to give it to anyone who may appreciate it. I can't help but be melodramatic when I speak about Crush; I don't think anyone can say they know me unless they've read it.
This is possibly the most explosively beautiful collection of poems to ever enter the world. Don't be fooled by anyone who tries to pigeon-hole it into a certain type of love. It's applicable to everyone who's ever felt anything. Just get yourself a copy. Now.
The Yale Younger Poets prize is the oldest annual literary award in the United States. The competition is open to any American under forty years of age who has not previously published a volume of poetry.

The Thom Gunn Award is an annual literary award, presented by Publishing Triangle to honour works of gay male poetry. First presented in 2001 as the Triangle Award for Gay Poetry, the award was renamed in memory of American poet Thom Gunn, the award's first winner, following his death in 2004.

Ginn Hale
I love the way the poems shift and alter both violence and tenderness. There's something very noir about these poems that I find beautiful, disturbing and inspiring.
I am not a fan of poetry. I don't understand it just as I didn't understand this. Here's what I understand: I understand the poet tries to write his feelings. A poet, a good one, tries to make you understand what he was feeling when he wrote whatever he wrote, or so I was told. Richard Siken is a good poet. I didn't understand most of his poems, I didn't understand what they were building up to or what story they were trying to tell, but I felt them. Well, most of them. I am sure I will feel the ...more
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GRL Review of Crush 3 75 Sep 22, 2013 01:57PM  
  • And Her Soul Out Of Nothing
  • Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form
  • Some Ether
  • This Clumsy Living
  • Dancing in Odessa
  • Slow Lightning
  • The Great Fires
  • The Madness Vase
  • If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho
  • Elegy
  • Nox
  • I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl: Poems
  • The Man Suit
  • Lighthead
  • What We Carry
  • Fragment of the Head of a Queen: Poems
  • Field Guide
  • Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields
Richard Siken's poetry collection Crush won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize,
a Lambda Literary Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Conjunctions, Indiana Review and Forklift, Ohio, as well as in the anthologies The Best American Poetry 2000 and Legitimate Dangers. He is a recipient of a Pu
More about Richard Siken...
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“Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we'll never get used to it.”
“We have not touched the stars,
nor are we forgiven, which brings us back
to the hero’s shoulders and the gentleness that comes,
not from the absence of violence, but despite
the abundance of it.”
More quotes…