Free Cell

Free Cell
City Lights Spotlight No. 2




Press Reviews

Publisher's Weekly

"Berrigan may have learned some of his disjunctive sprawl and spontaneity from his famous poet parents, Alice Notley and especially Ted Berrigan, but his poems have a kind of slacker cool and political awareness all his own . . . he is carrying his parents' tradition of poetry as a way of life, a community, proudly into the 21st century." —Publishers Weekly


The Midwest Book Review

"Free Cell is the latest collection of free-verse poetry from writing instructor and dedicated poet Anselm Berrigan. The words themselves revel in the freedom to assume any shape in this smoothly rolling collection of musings and insights. The natural flow of the verbal rhythm serves as the perfect counterpoint to the thought-provoking commentary in this excellent collection. 'Frailty puckers up to present': Frailty puckers up to present / gibberish in the agri-fab / spamways, helicopter can’t / swim, can’t junk tribal / penance for living off natty / whims so many pairs of / pants deny in fever’s dash. // The routine bites hard, ooze / a rapt factory heir teething / sway, ye olde time cleaners / spun off a granted project / of abeyance in the deep / trim that art savors, bent- / like, creaming dabbles.’"
—James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review


The Brooklyn Rail

"[Berrigan] digests and mercilessly composts an endless variety of speech, with an excellent ear for the comedy of the banal—the sounds of corporate brainstorming sessions, rich people, even the unsympathetic reader. . . When he writes 'I like moving / your careful parts about,' he must be addressing Language, and reading this poem one gets the impression Berrigan may go on moving her parts indefinitely, as he follows the ominous momentum of these poems ‘Back to the brink, as ever.’" — Julia Powers, The Brooklyn Rail


Galatea Resurrects

"Anselm Berrigan's voice continues be one of the most refreshing in contemporary American poetry, for its singular welding of candor, political awareness, and humor that attempts, with a very high rate of success, to co-opt the commercial and political jargon of our times to return it to higher purposes (which here include but are not limited to free speech, dead-on paeans to and condemnations of contemporary life, and love)."
—Virginia Konchan


The Brake Lights

"Anselm Berrigan's free radical poetry chops your hands off mid-line, drops the book into your lap, and caresses you with disquiet indie pop allusions and echoes of ubiquitous advertising absurdities as it cheers on that last ill-intentioned pint before the crestfallen exit from the pub on a Monday night while ambitiously and unambiguously telling you it might not be OK, but I wouldn't know anyway."
—Jason Eric Jensen


awdart.vox.com

"The lines through-out are high strung wires of speech act and innovative lyric. . . . [The work] could be climbed for days, years even. Yet it isn't insurmountable. It unravels with enough common linguistic rope to be followed by a smart and curious kid. The kid has to want to make the climb and that is one of the hardest tricks to pull off with integrity intact. Anselm does his best, using varied speeds, humor, drama, flat conceptual art movements giving pause to heightened lyricism, sharp images, double speak, puns, weird juxtapositions. Yet the integrity part is an essential element. It isn't any trick at all, but an intuitive sense of felt empathy which is the biggest carrot to the untried reader."


The Poetry Project Newsletter

"These are poems about getting by in the human universe through 'the icing of all personal / bureaucracies,' offices of existence where small and large injustices trigger passions within us that cannibalize us down to appetizers until we can regenerate in the company of fellow travelers." Paul Killebrew