From Publishers Weekly
Fresh wedding cakes in bakery windows, panties on clothes lines, Howdy Doody
on television all appear within sleek, minimally punctuated, fast-moving lines in Di Piero's eighth collection. But for all of their grounding in the real, these works push away from it with the force of their own craft; the poems are pitched toward the transformation of the external and ephemeral to the internal and fixed: "I want to keep/ the shadow late sunlight/ franks on the table, this gray/ unstable print of me,/ memento, darkening/ with time, gauntly complete." The knowledge that heightened perception and articulation can never be enough dominates the book: "I/ felt delivered, unfinished,/ to bright solid scenes/ melting through me as I/ streamed helpless into them." Nearly 40 poems in three unnamed sections register everything from "The Fifties" and "Girl Found in the Woods" to "Ortlieb's Uptown Taproom" and "Suzanne on the Sofa." The book begins with an invocation of a fraternity of elements (from which the title is drawn), and ends in "dreadful freshness and want,/ ...a stilted fountain of prayer/ rising in our throat." What's in between seeks a faith in description, even as it remains inadequate to the world's "more vexing messages." The poet's persistence from within that knowledge becomes the book's center, fuguing around the world as he knows it, "vagrant still doubtful."
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Di Piero has authored numerous books of poetry, translations, and essays on art, literature, and personal experience. This eclecticism of interests and knowledge clearly helps him present a broad range of poems that examine ordinary routines like ironing, mowing a lawn, or attending a party, as well as symbolic rituals like holiday celebrations on Halloween and the Fourth of July. Running through this collection are underlying questions not just about faith but also about religion. Di Piero takes a so-called language poet approach to much of his phrasing, while somehow managing to keep a solid footing on tangible subject matter. Di Piero seems strikingly American in how he pushes language, content, and experience through the lens of history, both personal and traditional. He creates unique cityscapes, everyday photographic moments, and contemplative, artistic compositions. Di Piero pushes boundaries of thought and expression in ways that may not appeal to more conservative readers but will certainly challenge and engage the willing. Janet St. JohnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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