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2016 | "James Laughlin Award winner Rivard (Wise Poison) here finds himself in midstream, mediating on 'What’s left?' The feel is not, however, of resignedly looking backward but of thoughtful recalibration. The collection opens, “I miss myself most/ these days with friends” and ends “here we go again, full speed ahead.” In between, in well-crafted, cleanly ringing poems, the poet reflects on his father’s dying, recalls beloved authors, reveals the smarts not to discourage a friend’s enthusiasm, declares 'that a little foolishness/ goes a long, long way, I’d say;/ a lot drops dead/ in its tracks,' and, in the title poem, headily embraces what’s 'baffling, vast, elemental,/ hopeful, & threatening/ as that—but different.' So what’s left? Wise, graceful poems for all readers." —Library Journal

2011 | "The signature poem in this exuberant fifth book...announces 'a plural happiness--I feel encouraged for all/ within range.' In his fast-paced, irregular, and superbly assembled free verse, in effusions and snapshots, hot pursuits of teen memories and spiky commitments to adult life, Rivard makes joy and satisfaction aesthetically interesting. He illustrates them with scenes from family life..., counterweights them with serious regrets, and flaunts his delight in over-the-top similes: 'Like a bit of shoelace snapped-off/ and tied back on by tight knot, frayed/ each of us lives attached/ to the ridiculousness of suffering.' Boston resident Rivard sounds always urbane, unmistakably American...his jazzy line breaks and as-if-improvised textures might recall August Kleinzahler, or Hayden Carruth, but his attitudes, and his rapid pace, are his own...."—Publishers Weekly

2006 | "The poems comprising Rivard’s fourth collection are odes to the bittersweet nature of consciousness, but consciousness moving at warp speed—Williams’ jalopy on jet fuel. Many poets try to replicate the sensations of the mind in motion, but few succeed as thoroughly as Rivard." —Joyce Peseroff, Salamander

2000 | "In Bewitched Playground, David Rivard plays the role of buoyant spirit and guide, a mystic emerging at the end of a skeptical, ironic era. Like his predecessors Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams, Rivard relies upon a meditative imagination that enables him to escape the mundane. Set against a cultural mindset that is corrupted by narcissism, the media, and the relentless pursuit of wealth, Bewitched Playground triumphs because it offers authentic contact with real and imagined beauty." —David Roderick, “Visiting This Life,” Agni

1996 | "Wise Poison gives us floods, highways, self-exposure, over-exposure, pink light, “the consuming lime & gin of the later”—Rivard is our best poet of such states since the days of new verse by Denis Johnson or James Wright…His aerial sentences defy the pull of line breaks, then snap down into epigrammatic, end-stopped closure, like birds diving over open ocean for rare prey; his subject is our unrealistic aspirations, the ways we can feel dead without them, and the ways poetic language can incubate and give wings to strange ambitions." —Stephen Burt, Yale Review

1988 | "Published in the Pitt Poetry Series, this winner of the 1987 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize is empowered by the vitality of its imagery and by the author's volatile, at times explosive, tone. Each poem tells a story, examining childhood memories, family relationships and the details of daily life by encapsulating moments and emotions. Combining the colloquial with the cerebral, the verses are replete with dramatic tension, which stems both from the bold use of language and from startling symbolism." —Publishers Weekly


The Minimal, the Miniature, & the Little-More-Than-Nothing

An essay on minimalist strategies of narration in poetry. It originally appeared in The Writers' Chronicle (March/April, 2009).