In an interview with Carol Maso for BOMB magazine in 1995, she says that her “theory is that a poem is troubled into its making. It’s not a thing that blooms; it’s a thing that wounds.” This theory bears itself out in her collections, A Hunger (1988), The Master Letters (1995), Trouble in Mind (2004), and Stay, Illusion (2013), which often explore obsessions and anxieties (of influence, ritual, mortality, and modernity), and which use whatever is available to create vivid, sometimes disorienting, portraits of mind. Stay, Illusion was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award.
Her poetry is also marked by its shifting syntax and diction, and the ability to sound entirely original while at the same time paying homage to her influences—themselves often the touchstones of her poems, as with Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens. In a review of Trouble in Mind for the New York Times, Maureen N. McLane describes Brock-Broido as always seeming “to approach her life as an allegorical one: alchemized . . . into poetry.”