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Interrobang Paperback – August 1, 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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“Jessica Piazza’s brilliantly conceived debut collection, Interrobang, is a stunning sequence of (primarily) sonnets that unfolds with both a mature formal acuity and a profound philosophical sophistication. It is an absolute tour de force. These poems emerge as reflections of a kaleidoscopic self as they interrogate those fears and desires that drive and haunt us. Whatever the answers might be to these exclamatory questions, the speaker of these beautiful and troubling poems knows she has only one response available to her—to continue regardless, and to persevere.”
—David St. John 

“Jessica Piazza leaps fully-armed from the head (and heady tradition) of linguistic-trickster poets like Father Hopkins and Heather McHugh. Interrobang hits the ground running, lobbing bolts of syntactical lightning, taking the reader hostage to the most dazzling radical harmonies—a word-music that shakes us awake, powers new insights—stands us on the very edge of a rock ‘n’ roll minefield, waving a white flag. We give in! We got it! This is great poetry!”
—Carol Muske-Dukes 

“What an ear, here! Jessica Piazza’s poems are such etched, alive word sculptures, crystal prism poems of love and longing and punch.”
—Aimee Bender

“Jessica Piazza is an heir of Hopkins, a poet engaging generously in metaphysical struggle. In this unusually deft book, she sets out to offer her voice on the altar of iambic pentameter and shares the fears she encounters there with quirky, firm metrical dexterity and breathtakingly succinct wit. Interrobang is a serious accomplishment.”
—Annie Finch 

Interrobang thrums gorgeously—each page is full-throated and sexy. It’s a yearning yo-yo, a gemlike cutting through our loves and fears. It is a book rabid with life. Piazza’s razor-sharp collection weaves and knots the unknowable with a jubilance and wit too rare in contemporary poetry. Interrobang is fantastic debut collection.”
—Alex Lemon, author of Happy: A Memoir and Fancy Beasts

“Many of these poems are brave and sensuous, and it’s refreshing to see Piazza capturing not so much her shifting emotions as her understanding of them…Promising work from a writer worth watching.”
 —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

About the Author

Jessica Piazza was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She has written three poetry collections: Interrobang (Red Hen Press), winner of the 2011 AROHO to the Lighthouse Poetry Prize and the 2013 Balcones Prize for Poetry, a chapbook called This is not a sky (Black Lawrence Press) and Obliterations, a collection of erasure poems co-authored with Heather Aimee O'Neill (Red Hen Press, forthcoming).  She holds a BS in Journalism from Boston University, an MA in Creative Writing from UT Austin, and a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. She co-founded Bat City Review and Gold Line Press, is a contributing editor at The Offending Adam, and has blogged for The Best American Poetry and Barrelhouse. Her work has appeared in Agni, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, National Poetry Review, The Missouri Review, Rattle, Hobart, and Forklift, Ohio, among other journals. 
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Red Hen Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597097225
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597097222
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,862,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Jessica Piazza is able to combine everything that is complex and layered about poetry into a package that is refreshingly accessible for any kind of reader. While these poems are carefully crafted and expertly formal, all the work is hidden from the reader-- as it should be. If you enjoy formal poetry, you'll marvel at the craftsmanship of these poems. If you do not, you'll simply enjoy the power of the words. These poems speak to our fears and loves and get at the heart of what makes us human. The images are fresh, original and thought provoking. It's the kind of book you read over and over again and get something different from every time. It's simply just good poetry-- the kind that you come back to again and again.
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Jessica Piazza's "Interrobang" is something of a rarity in this literary day and age: a volume of inarguably modern poetry that manages to maintain all of the balances that I find crucial to what I consider to be "good" poetry. In the language, "Interrobang" manages to be sophisticated and playful while still being down to earth and ultimately approachable. Her Tom Robbins-esque verbal gymnastics are grounded by sometimes hard and almost brutal declarations that remind us that these words are the actual feelings of a real person. Similarly, the subject matter of "Interrobang" is a blending of hopes, fears, loves, and obsessions, and how they affect our relationships to others and the places around us. These themes are age-old, but re-examined through a lens that is modern and -- and here is the most important part -- ultimately honest. It is hard to imagine that any of these poems are "made up"; they all carry the unmistakable tang of truth that can only be backed up by real experience.

Perhaps most impressively, Ms. Piazza has a rigorous approach to form, crafting poems that are rhythmically and metrically amazing, where so many "modern" poets won't or don't. And the truth is, with language that caresses at times like classical sonnets and at other times hits like rap, the perfection of form and meter can almost be taken for granted (but shouldn't!).

All in all, this is an impressive, beautiful, and beautifully honest volume of poetry.
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Format: Paperback
The following review focuses primarily on Jessica Piazza's poem, "The Prolific."

This poem is stunning, in the way so many of Piazza’s poems are stunning—they are imagistic, rhythmic, and (perhaps most importantly) internally aware of the changes that inhabit their space, and that inhabit the larger arch of the collection. Because of this, there is an implied conversation that occurs between these poems, drawing attention to the discrepancies that are projected onto the persona or the situation that surrounds her. These discrepancies have very little to do with unreliability or lack of attention to detail; rather, they reflect the impermanence of our humanly situations, as well as the potential falseness of our memories. Much of this collection operates around the complex concept of transformation, which opens doors to, both, longing and our own limitations.

Piazza’s poems are complex and require great and consistent effort to gain access. For instance, the first five lines of this poem operated strictly as a series of images for me—until I reached the sixth line, “each morning, as we passed on 23rd.” The simplicity of this detail, placing the persona and this male other on 23rd Street, recast that previous series of images as memories of landmarks along that stretch. This sort of shift in access to images and information is a constant, both in this poem and many others; it represents an opening up that occurs between the persona and the reader, particularly in a poem such as this one, when the final line of one sonnet is revised as the first line in the next, displaying some new truth to the story developed across the “Profilic” series.

What became the most daring and the most telling to me, however, were the lines:

. . .
Read more ›
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Definitely a book for people who think they "don't get" poetry. Jessica Piazza works with forms that are familiar even to a first year writing student (mainly sonnets), but she plays with the forms in thought-provoking ways: for example, her poem about "Love of Radical Deviation" is fittingly not a form poem. Piazza also incorporates rhyme, rhythm, and evocative language with a razor-sharp eye for editing and word economy. All logophiles (lovers of words), add this to your bookshelf.
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For a person who always felt that most poetry was "above them", Jessica Piazza's Interrobang changed all of that. It's accessible, tangible and relatable. The way that she exposes her deepest and darkest emotions are phenomenal and there are a number of poems that make you feel you are right there with her. Absolutely stunning collection.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Interrobang is the sweetest kind of poetry, the blue denim kind, the real kind. The kind you'd see Springsteen writing, the slow easy kind that is rife with humanity and insights and what's going on in the deeper parts of that thing we call a soul. This isn't snooty poetry. This is fresh and easy to read; even easier to savour. I have spent the last couple nights with it, enjoying each poem like I'd let the world's best ice cream melt on my tongue, and I recommend it, highly, to anyone whose heart yearns for truth and wonder.
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