Nomina is a book of sonnets, most adhering to a traditional Petrarchan rhyme scheme. Far from a tidy closed form, Volkman's sonnets are volatile, sometimes violent instruments, resounding with struggle and shock. They embody a fascinating contradiction: the resolute character of the form's syntax and the solidity and decisiveness of its rhyme scheme pressing toward a certainty that its conflicted, argumentative stance questions and resists. What is the relationship of a musical structure to other systems—natural, divine, emotional, physiological? How do forms of intelligence interrelate? How is constraint a base for intuitive leaping, a mode of freedom? How is the poem a thinking body? Nomina is constructed as a kind of metaphysical sequence revolving these different concerns, sometimes echoing key words to create a series of unifying recurrences across the whole. While the concerns are abstract, the material qualities of sound and meter provide solidity and grounding and a high degree of sensual pleasure to the reader.
"Nomina is a tour de force exploration of the sonnet...At once formal and innovative, baroque and emotive, each poem ignites the next...Within the intensely musical structures of the poems, the richness of Volkman's lexicon and the novelty of her syntax are thrilling."
—The Poetry Foundation
"Unnamed an indexed by first thoughts, [Nomina] relies on word choice and flow to capture the reader's attention...Volkman leaves no corner untouched...[She] seems to achieve once again an ideal of the natural and supernatural...The experimentalism found within these sonnets... makes this work's complexity fathomable yet [it] is fresh in all aspects."
—Gently Read Literature
"Channeling Emily Dickinson, [Volkman's] poems are at once fierce, ravished, perplexed and perplexing...mysteriously giving and withholding enough to keep the reader in their thrall."