Synopses & Reviews
"American poet Steve Orlen's A Thousand Threads, the last collection published before his unfortunate passing last year, challenges readers' assumptions about the kind of writer Orlen is. Most people familiar with his work are likely to think of him as a narrative poet, and, in his life, he often seems to have fully embraced that label. On the other hand, his poetry here is so robust and carefully textured that it is difficult to separate the lyric from the narrative qualities. It is easy to feel the rhythm in his work, as in the poem 'In Spring' excerpted above. This rhythm generates a kind of music that at times seems to function as an engine pushing the lines forward; however, given the subtle and complex worlds Orlen creates, it would be difficult to assert that cadence is the foundation of his poems. Moreover, Orlen's ability to both distill and expand makes it clear that the label 'narrative poet' -- too often deployed in the pejorative to suggest that such poets care about story at the expense of all else -- simply doesn't do justice to Orlen's range."
Linwood Rumney, Cerise Press (Read the entire Cerise Press review)
In these new poems from Steve Orlen, the work speaks directly without tricks. There's no fragmentation, flarf, call of the elliptical, language tricks, movement and meaning through fancy associations and juxtapositions. There's not even a gesture toward adornment or the raised uplift of the lyric lamenting someone's dead grandmother or in celebration of bees. Yet they come with the force of a sledgehammer, powerfully felt, illuminating.