This new volume by Ben Mazer contains only work not included in his Selected Poems of 2017, which, apart from several previously uncollected texts, is mostly new work and shows the poet continuing on his ineluctable journey of contemplation and self-realization. The poems boast the visual and musical complexity that Mazer is known for. They are often visionary and always filled with dense meaning. Many of the poems are complex, yet not forbiddingly so, even if they presuppose an ambitious and dedicated reader.
—Philip Nikolayev, from the afterword
"American poetry used to bow before its roots in England, then pretty much scorned them utterly. Ben Mazer is a bright exception in a slowly dimming landscape, one who brings poetry’s formal pasts – both ancient and Modern – to bear on the dark troubles of the moment, while his spectrum extends from high lyric to caustic colloquial. His work is both distinct and distinguished, and his fine new book a cause for celebration."
"Ben Mazer could be seen as the Baudelaire of Boston since his poetry corresponds with that great poet in its romantic shadows, burning melancholy, cooperative relationship to the great fully dead American poets who rhymed their way out of Victorian verse remaining noble and lonely and headed for free verse. Ben shares the good manners of John Wieners, and this way welcomes his reader into the pavilions along the river with tragic logic."
"Ben Mazer’s poems, 'sweatered in the wind,' are marvels of anachronistic refraction, as if the new could be old again. 'The essence of the conflict is the fight,' he writes, coming close to, but averting, verse light. Mad poetry hurled him into ironic, discursive flight, awash in warping wit with social bight. Here, then, is where this poet chose to alight. 'Nor kin to claim.'"
"Ben Mazer’s 'capturements of sound' are sometimes deployed in surreal Dylanesque frenzy, sometimes with the sorrowful ennui of early Eliot: 'The birds keep bankers' hours on the fence;/life is co-opted without recompense.' Prickly with allusion, rhyme-rich, alert to history’s stamp on language and imagination, The Hierarchy of the Pavilions surprises as it confounds, teases, and delights."