Kim Addonizio is that New Formalist dream girl, a hot babe who can bang out a sonnet on demand. If your vice runs to forms a little more obscure, how can you resist? Her come-on seems to be, “Wouldn’t you like to peek at my sexy little sonnezhino?” The question isn’t why sexual intercourse didn’t begin for Larkin until 1963; it’s why—after Chaucer and Rochester and Burns, after all the ways they found to load every rift with sex—modern poetry is as erotic as a meat locker. The anaesthesia and impotence of Eliot (when there’s sex in Eliot, it’s grimy and repulsive) seem to have become, not just the model for English verse, but the ideal.

Addonizio’s poems are always looking for love, and in What Is This Thing Called Love they take their desperate pleasures where they can.[1] The hot sex takes place with a Baedeker in...


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