Reviews

Invisible protest

A review of Caryl Pagel's 'Experiments I Should Like Tried at My Own Death'

Caryl Pagel’s Experiments I Should Like Tried at My Own Death concerns itself with liminal states, the between and beyond that haunts the here and now. It is apparent from the opening lines of “Levitation,” the book’s first poem, that the very experience of having a body is going to be difficult and complex in this world of ghosts and shadows:

Outside of any system

A review of William Corbett's 'Elegies for Michael Gizzi'

Late in September 2010 Michael Gizzi passed away. This shocked all who knew him. He was young, only sixty-one. During the course of his life he lived mostly in New England, and was in the lineage of other great New Englanders such as Frank O’Hara and John Wieners. If you listen to Gizzi’s readings on PennSound you will hear how fine an ear he had, an ear that descended directly from Jack Kerouac’s own demotic taste. Amongst his contemporaries Gizzi found himself with Clark Coolidge, William Corbett, Bernadette Mayer, and Craig Watson. During the 1980s through the 1990s Gizzi lived in Western Massachusetts where he ran a series in the barn behind Arrowhead, Herman Melville’s house in Pittsfield.

On our own recognizance

Miranda Mellis's survivable devastation

Mellis’s newest work in print, The Spokes, takes us on a fantastical journey into the unpredictable afterworld in search of a deceased parent, Silver, whose absence has left a pervasive sense of self-questing perplexity and a fierce thirst for history in her surviving daughter, Lucia. While Lucia’s journey of attempted recuperation provides the primary “plot” device of the story, like in all seriously delicious writing, there is on the one hand what “happens” and, on the other hand, all those indefinable, indismissable sensations that these “happenings” further evoke or induce. I refer here to those sallying waves of prescient feeling whose linguistic footprints and circumference are far more extensive, amorphous, and difficult to map.

Divine and now

A review of Tony Leuzzi's 'Radiant Losses'

In his new collection Radiant Losses, Tony Leuzzi writes poems that are not only universal in topic and emotive power, but also very personal. Poems such as “Now” explore the physical and emotional connections between men: “The / less / he was / and the less / I was the more we / disappeared behind bodies not / our own …”  In the last stanza of this poem, Leuzzi’s speaker reaches a metaphysical realization: “But / now / with you / I can’t think / of anyone else / hell! I can’t think at all! Your skin / against mine / my flesh, your flesh, the immediate this” (53).

A sound in the mind

A review of Peter Gizzi's 'Threshold Songs'

Besides referring to an entrance, the word “threshold” signifies the lower limit of an observable phenomenon; take grief, for example. I know when grief arrives, but when is it gone? More likely, grief just dissipates and never goes away entirely and at some point maybe we cease trying to measure it. On the other hand, a threshold is a crossing. When I was twelve, my parents added a room onto our small house, and the builder suggested ash for the thresholds. Ash, he said, had been thought to keep out evil spirits.