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Interrogations at Noon: Poems Paperback – March 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555973183
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555973186
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gioia gained prominence during the 1980s as a crusader on behalf of the New Formalists--poets who wrote about everyday lives and losses in determinedly accessible, traditional modes and metres. Though his own poetry has received respectful notices, he has gained wider acclaim as a critic and editor, especially for the polemical volume Can Poetry Matter? This third book of poems (his first since 1991) will disappoint some readers, please others and surprise very few. Much of the work here expresses predictable sentiments in predictably straightforward lines--"The daylight needs no praise and so we praise it always," notes the speaker of "Words"; a husband, imagining himself as "The Voyeur," "looks and aches not only for her touch/ but for the secret that her presence brings"; a poem called "My Dead Lover" tells him or her, "Your body was the first I ever knew/ Better than my own." Domestic happiness and everyday epiphanies have produced many good poems, in and out of traditional metres, but Gioia fails to make them linguistically or emotionally compelling in any way. His real gift is for light verse; "Elegy with Surrealist Proverbs as Refrain" has a seriocomic interest beyond its absurdly reduced subjects (Andre Breton, Apollinaire and others), and the songs from Gioia's libretto Nosferatu stand out for their verve. Translations from Seneca's tragedy Hercules Furens and from the Italian poet Valerio Magrelli flesh out what would otherwise be an extremely thin volume. (Apr.) Forecast: Gioia's prolific critical activity in myriad venues has kept his brand ID solid, even after the collapse of the New Formalism. Followers of little and larger poetry magazines will buy this book just to see what Gioia's up to; libraries and others will similarly get it for the name recognition.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The ancient Greeks and Romans created European civilization, and studying their literature--the classics--has long been considered a civilizing activity. But the classics also teach plenty about chaos, not least that the human heart is never satisfied. Gioia, who has translated classical literature, shows that he has learned civilization in the formal dexterity of his verse, that he has learned the turbulent heart in the content of his poems.Gioia is, at midlife, full of regrets. He writes about the youthful intellectual sparring partner, never seen since, who he learns has died of AIDS; about the child who grows ever "more gorgeously like you" but whose likeness is also "not a slip or a fumble but a total rout"; and about "the better man I might have been." Most affectingly, he writes about his son who died in childhood. "Comfort me with stones," he prays. "Quench my thirst with sand." In those desolate lines, he echoes the Song of Songs, a masterpiece of the third classical tongue, Hebrew, whereas in many other poems, he draws on Greek and Roman motifs, stories, and attitudes. He finds in the classics and conveys to us the acceptance of mortality and the celebration of beauty that have made the classics perdurably relevant. And his rhymes are true, his meters are correct and musical, his diction is fresh--he is well on the way to becoming a classic poet himself. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Gioia is a wonderful poet.
Elizabeth Vrenios
Very thought-provoking and invites much reflection.
Beverley R. Enright
Or maybe it's better to come fresh every time.
Paul Hughes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jack. Foley on May 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
New Formalist poet/critic Dana Gioia is known for his ground-breaking essay, "Can Poetry Matter?" This is his third book of poetry, and it is unlike anything produced by anyone else in America. Sicilian, Mexican and Native American in his ancestry, Gioia writes out of a "dark" Catholic sensibility--a sensibility which sees "the end of the world" in every sensuous detail around him. One of the advantages of Gioia's "formalism" is that it allows him to place deep personal experience within a form which, while deeply moving, simultaneously allows the reader to maintain a sense of esthetic distance. This tension between technical virtuosity and dark subject matter is reminiscent of the great nineteenth-century French poet, Charles Baudelaire--a Bohemian type who in other ways might be seen as Gioia's opposite. Full of strong poems by this native California--the strongest is probably "A California Requiem"--"Interrogations at Noon" is a fine introduction to one of the most thoughtful and original of American writers. Full of exquisite, mournful lines: "Think of the letters that we write our dead"; "We are like shadows the bright noon erases."
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 7, 2005
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In my continuing (impossible) search for a poet whose every poem moves me, I read this collection by Dana Gioia. Gioia is known as a craftsman who publishes little because of his struggle bring every poem to the highest state of perfection. In fact, as one reads these poems, it is almost possible to sense how carefully every word has been chosen. In some cases, this almost becomes distracting, to the detriment of the poetry.

On the other hand, through his struggle Gioia is able to create some brilliant lines within poems whose overall effect is something less: "With eyes that have forgotten how to see/From viewing things already too well-known" from "Entrance." Or "The future shrinks/Whether the past/Is well or badly spent" from "Curriculum Vitae." Within poems like "Pentecost" and "Three Songs for Nosferatu" it is possible to find some wonderful work as well.

In this collection, however, there are two poems that I think are wonderful through and through. In "Juno Plots Her Revenge" Gioia takes us on a long rant as Juno lists her complaints against Jupiter's unfaithfulness and plans her final revenge against Hercules, one of Jupiter's bastards. Poems with classical references are often fun because the poet is able to let his hair down and be bold using a mythological goddess as a mouthpiece. There is more energy and engaging language in this longer poem than in almost all of Gioia's other poems put together. Wonderful!

But my favorite poem in this collection may be "My Dead Lover." In it, Gioia writes of a person mourning a great love ("Your body was the first I ever knew/Better than my own.") with whom he really didn't get along ("How miserable we were together, dear").
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. John Laughlin on August 2, 2008
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My bias is toward poets who are more direct in what they are saying. This work I found a mix of stunning and hard to grasp poems. Still, the poems that reached me were enough to make me want to read more of this talented poet.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Dana Gioia is a poet and critic of international note who has authored a profusion of essays, reviews, translations, and anthologies. Now his own poetry is available to an appreciative public with the publication of Interrogations At Noon. Divination: Always be ready for the unexpected./Someone you have dreamed about may visit./Better clean house to make the right impression./There are some things you should not think about.//Someone you have dreamed about may visit./Is it an old friend you do not recognize?/There are some things you should not think about./Who is the stranger standing at the door?//Is it an old friend you do not recognize?/Notice the cool appraisal of his eyes./Who is the stranger standing at the door?/You sometimes wonder what you're waiting for.//Notice the cool appraisal of his eyes./Better clean house to make the right impression./You sometimes wonder what you're waiting for./Always be ready for the unexpected.
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This is a wonderful collection of mostly new formalist poems that enchant the reader. It is a revelation of beauty and disciplined passion with one jewel followed by another. Dana Gioia is a magician with words and has a wide range of poetic skills with which he masterfully astounds the reader. Very thought-provoking and invites much reflection.
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Indeed, there really seems to be a hidden depth behind Gioia's poems. Even if they don't penetrate on the first reading, something echos and I return, and find a voice speaking which feels a lot like my own, though my own would be far less eloquent. Gioia's humanity speaks to my humanity, and in many of his "interrogations" I feel a kindred spirit.
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