A Martian Muse: Further Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (Poets on Poetry)
by Reginald Shepherd
Edited and with an introduction by Robert Philen
University of Michigan Press. 208 pages, $60. (paper, $21.95)
AWARD-WINNING POET, anthologist, and critic Reginald Shepherd died from cancer almost two years ago, in the early fall of 2008. He was 45. Earlier that year, Shepherd had celebrated the publication of his book of essays Orpheus in the Bronx, which was named a finalist for a prestigious National Book Critics Circle award a few months after his death. Fortunately, Shepherd left behind work for a second collection, which has been edited by his partner Robert Philen and published as A Martian Muse: Further Essays on Identity, Politics and the Freedom of Poetry. The book continues and amplifies the crucial themes and ideas begun in Shepherd’s first book, and the two volumes together showcase a mind brilliantly suited to critiquing contemporary poetry and identity politics.