"Susan McLean's poems are...a delight to read....A super book, and one to return to often."
Here is a review of Susan's book by Constant Reader posted on Amazon.com :
"Unlike the knife in her title poem, Susan McLean couldn't be sharper. She cuts to the heart of her subjects with language as precise as a scalpel and as surprising as a prison shiv. Small wonder that The Whetstone Misses the Knife won the prestigious Donald Justice Prize, or that McLean followed the likes of A.E. Stallings and A.M. Juster in winning the Richard Wilbur Award for her earlier collection, The Best Disguise. In Whetstone she takes on subjects ranging from love to loss, sex to sexism. She is funny, touching, sardonic, playful, often enlightening, always entertaining--and brilliant, as Dick Davis notes in his jacket blurb, at balancing "the messiness of life" with "the formal perfections of art." McLean is not just one of the best poets writing today, but one of the best at working within--and against--poetic forms, ranging from sonnets and villanelles to ballades and double dactyls.
"Among the standouts in this collection are "The Mirror's Desolation," a surprisingly poignant message from a mirror to its owner ("I care for you too much to lie,/ copying lines you would erase..."), "Dear John," a hilarious letter to a certain below-the-belt "John Thomas," "No Thanks," on why the narrator doesn't want to play a damsel in distress, and "Rules for Love," which deserves to become a manifesto for a new generation of feminists (""Don't play dumb or play his games. Don't stop/ reading or saying what you think. Don't flatter.../ If he won't love you, you'll do fine alone.") .
"Although McLean is bound to strike a chord with readers of many ages, I particularly recommend her books as gifts for older teenagers and young adults. In a society that often makes people feel they must look or act a certain way, the protagonists of McLean's poems are independently, unapologetically, themselves. They embrace math and sex, shun makeup and diets, read Gloria Steinem, have crushes on Mr. Spock. As McLean writes in "Ad Lib," "The secret to doing what you please/ is never to ask permission." Here's hoping she keeps doing just that for many volumes to come."