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Books would seem to be one thing, and rough business another—except that the life of Tullio Pironti has brought both together. This mover and shaker in Italian arts and publishing began as a scuffling street kid in Naples, then enjoyed a boxing career that included two trips to the nationals, and only after that entered the book business. Yet in the decades that followed, he ended up working with the likes of the Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfuz and the Maestro of Italian film, Federico Fellini. Not surprisingly, then, Pironti’s memoir won wide attention in his home country, with more than 100 notices. Before anything else, the young Pironti had to survive a war. His memoir begins with a refugee experience, as he and his family are driven out of their homes in downtown Naples by the American bombing of 1942-43. Then after the liberation, Pironti must make his way with his wits and his fists, amid a colorful array of Neapolitan street figures. His recollections of youth provide rare insight into coming of age in a culture so ancient, so full of secrets. Anyone who wants to know the real Italy, and what it’s been through over the last half-century, will find Books & Rough Business a source of endless fascination. On top of that, this autobiography offers the timeless pleasures of watching a wily player work his way from next to nothing to great success, overcoming just about every kind of adversity along the way.
and Other Poems
Bristol Bay is the easternmost part of the Bering Sea and the site of the largest Salmon run in the world. It is also home to some of the highest tides and roughest water on the planet. In winter, ice storms freeze the riggings of fishing boats and the added weight of the ice, if not chipped off and thrown overboard, is sufficient to sink all but the largest of boats. The working conditions are brutal and the Bay itself as unforgiving as it is lovely. If it were a town, its name would be Deadwood or Tombstone, a place where life is measured in sunrises, not years. The title poem, “Bristol Bay,” is autobiographical. Much of what is described in the poem is true and not hyperbole or metaphor. The author worked two seasons on the 420 foot floating processor, the All Alaskan, now a partially submerged wreck outside of Kodiak, Alaska, and the poem speaks to that almost apocalyptic experience. The poems in this book are thematically aligned with the title poem in that they share a willingness to explore the potentially fatal, often unknown body of the individual. Homelessness, war, the blue collar work ethic, the love of all things opposed by the hatred of one thing—mothers and fathers—all of these become touchstones through which greater awareness may be experienced as a spiritual participation in building and sustaining human communities.
In her debut poetry collection, Kelly Davio invites the reader into a world where sin is virtue and virtue is vice, where the ominous lingers just beneath the surface, and the everyday is imbued with the fantastic. In these intelligent, compassionate, and harrowing poems, Davio gives a modern voice to metaphysical tradition.
But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise emerges at a time when science is discovering more and more about the mystical particles that make up our universe and our bodies. From tidal forces and prairie burns to ruminations on racial identity while standing at the foot of Mount Rushmore, these poems chart a travelogue through mental and physical landscapes and suggest that place, time, love, and bodies are all shifts in the "undulate cosmos." Straddling the lyrical and experimental, these poems conjure and connect the cosmological, the carnal, and the personal in a country—and a universe—that is gobbling itself into oblivion. But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise is in love with the universe of language—Its forms, its sounds, and even its static.
Reality has begun to show its age. Have you noticed? Joe has. Calamity Joe is the pen name of the mysterious narrator in a new kind of poetry collection. Spending his days in a lab, talking to mice & microbes, he will soon be the last living member of his family. More and more, life seems to hint at its syntax, and Joe feels that he can just make out the page he inhabits. Drastic measures are called for, but for what? Poet Brendan Constantine hasn’t crafted another novel in verse, but a secret life revealed by poetry. Open it anywhere and be rewarded with poems that stand alone; read it from the beginning and discover the deeper context that ties every image together. As with his previous collections, Constantine employs countless approaches to poetry and no single style dominates. Looking through Joe’s eyes, we understand that life has no single story, that love is not a single feeling, and that consciousness may be an act of sheer will.
The poems in Cartographies travel new territory, exploring the heart’s changeable geography and the soul’s uneven terrain. They map the familiar, sometimes astonishing, and always complex world of the poet’s native San Gabriel Mountains, as well as nearby Los Angeles, with its cultural richness and social/political tensions. Divided into four sections—The Soul, The Self, Mountains, The City—Cartographies investigates and fathoms our most profound relationships with time, nature, love, and death. In poem after poem, Simon finds meaning in unexpected locales, from a hospital AIDS ward to the “Rorschach” on a butterfly’s wings to a barrio bakery, and in the briefest of moments, evoked by the plaintive voice of a spider, or provoked by a breathless escape from an avalanche. With clarity and eloquence, these poems dramatize the persistent paradoxes present in our daily lives, those interstices of yearning and mourning, fear and celebration, or anguish and amazement that reveal the deep wells and turbulence of human consciousness. With consummate craftsmanship and inner grace, Simon apprehends the elegiac within the purest moments of joy, and intimates catharsis within despair. She opens the mind’s windows to myriad small miracles provoked by the barest glimmers of wonder and hope.
A Collection of Collage Poems
As Gertrude Stein might have put it, a cento is a collage is a mix tape is a video montage. This hypothetical description is fitting in a number of ways. Although the cento form is ancient—in existence since at least the days of Virgil and Homer—it was also used to striking effect in the Modern era: consider, for example, T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land and Ezra Pound's Cantos. More recent centos include John Ashbery's "The Dong with the Luminous Nose," Peter Gizzi's "Ode: Salute to The New York School 1950-1970" (a libretto), Connie Hershey's "Ecstatic Permutations," and the "Split This Rock Poetry Festival - Cento, March 23, 2008" (a collaborative protest poem delivered in front of the White House). The Cento: A Collection of Collage Poems, edited by Theresa Malphrus Welford and with an introduction by David Lehman, features an extensive sampling of centos, collage poems, and patchwork poems written by Nicole Andonov, Lorna Blake, Alex Cigale, Allan Douglass Coleman, Philip Dacey, Sharon Dolin, Annie Finch, Jack Foley, Kate Gale, Dana Gioia, Sam Gwynn, H. L. Hix, David Lehman, Eric Nelson, Catherine Tufariello, and many others.
"Changing the Subject might have started from the spontaneous combustion a listserve offers, but its poems quickly transcend the casual. The poets play jazz riffs, often responding to motifs in each other’s poems, but each poem also stands alone. Here is the best one can hope for in successful collaboration: excellent poems." — Rochelle Ratner