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Brother Fire Paperback – January 17, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (January 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375710493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375710490
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,094,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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. John
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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I've read Di Piero since the 1970's. His work has become much meatier, more vivid, and more assessable. The Library of Congress cataloged this book as both religious poetry and erotic poetry! I don't know about that, but it is full of spirit . . . and fire.
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Format: Paperback
This collection continues, first of all, a splendid poet's investigation of his home ground -- postwar Italian-American South Philly. This process began in the previous collection, the likewise powerful SKIRTS & SLACKS, with its meditations on the deaths of his immigrant mother and father. But here Di Piero demonstrates more developed mastery, varying shapes and sonic effects (though relying most on a jazzy American variation of blank verse) while sustaining terrific visual specificity and startling uprushes of sprituality.

In so doing, the poet generates fresh and stinging coherence about both irretrievable loss and ineradicable yearning. A poem like "Prayer Meeting," like "Ortleib's Uptown Taproom," brings off a tour de force that never lacks the common touch.

Also, "Brother Fire" was St. Francis's metaphor for (among other things) all our bodily desires, burning and quenchless, and this book takes on the same impossible subject, finally, bravely. The concern emerges both in the meditations on Philly past and present, and in other poems, superficially about art, food, or love. In all, the human capacity for want, presented both as folly and as transcendence, rules these pages like a "deity of hurt and rue."
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