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Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems Paperback – July 14, 2009
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
DiPiero's motto might be, "Here I am again trying to say/ what I see." The eighth volume and first selected from this San Francisco–based poet and art critic (Brother Fire) shows a scrupulous, if grim, observer and listener, one whose weighty clarities have grown more moving and more profound with time. DiPiero's first books, from the '80s, examined Italian-Americans in working-class environs, Italians in Italy and the long tradition of seasonal lyric throughout the Western world: "moon, stars, soon day breaking,/ the grave dream dreamed elsewhere." In his '90s books, DiPiero's concisely organized sentences grew more complicated, and more rewarding, even as they maintained his bleak wisdom. From these works through Skirts and Slacks (2001) and into 15 new poems, realistic panoramas and still lifes combine an interest in gloom, dirt and grit—"the taste of pitch and bus fumes and leaf meal," for example,—with a critic's eye for arrangement and composition. Short lines and pithy advice ("tell what you know now/ of dreadful freshness and want") suggest Stanley Kunitz, though other pronouncements convey a basso profundo all their own: "We die, or kill, or let be killed," one poem decides, "then wake to other minor terror,/ to our intensest selves." (Feb.)
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Reading this generous sampling from Di Piero's first seven poetry collections as well as a group of new poems, it's difficult to identify prevailing themes or a consistent tone. Like Charles Wright, who shares his interest in contemporary Italian poetry, Di Piero has produced a diverse body of work that's alternately lush and spare, ranging from raucous character studies drawn from his South Philadelphia youth to somber meditations inspired by the landscapes of his adopted California. The voice is usually relaxed and confiding, yet the poems are strangely impersonal and appealingly modest, telling you little about the author. If Di Piero lacks Wright's lyric gifts, he seems to know and accept it, turning this seeming limitation into a source of strength and even eloquence. "My voice going out has nothing / new to say, no slight / shock of self to lend / a world hammered soft tonight," he writes with disarming candor in "The Divine." "Teach me to learn / I have nothing of my own." Kevin Nance
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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