Ellen Kaufman’s poems pierce the reader the way a needle pierces fabric. With a stunningly precise apprehension of the real, she stitches immigration histories and the intimacies of family life, cityscapes and suburban developments, the recent past and the perilous future. She has the power to shapeshift, too, so that we experience, as if from inside, the hidden life of a retired battleship, an algae bloom, a bird nesting in a traffic light. Marked by grief, endurance, and the truths of beauty made manifest, these are essential poems.
— Jennifer Barber, author of Works on Paper
Ellen Kaufman’s absolutely terrific second book can fearlessly slash through pretext, but also cohere unlikely pairs through the X-ray delicacy of an ace metaphorist. She can use “he wanted to get laid” as a refrain in a satisfyingly avenging villanelle, and also see how a beret looks like a “fluffy flounder,” and a chandelier handed down through generations “rattles like a skeleton.” A tick can alternate stanzas with its host, and an orchestra can create a landscape from its instruments. Kaufman uses form—including a masterful crown of sonnets about her father’s end of life—and the speaker herself takes form in persona poems of NYC landmarks; of the USS Intrepid, she writes, “the old moon / shuttle Discovery perches / like an aphid on a rose leaf.” I bet you never heard that before! And so you will feel about this whole body of poems. Kaufman’s wit, her craft, her vision—this book celebrates their collaboration.
— Jessica Greenbaum, author of Spilled and Gone
As a young person, the best poem I ever read in my life was a Petrarchan sonnet by Ellen Kaufman—before I even knew what a Petrarchan sonnet was. Now, in reading Ellen Kaufman’s newest book, Double-Parked, with Tosca, I immediately see everything I want poetry to be: imaginative, evocative, observant, musical, filled with sound and living breath, and brilliant. I can’t recommend this book and this author enough.
— Nicholas Samaras, author of American Psalm, World Psalm