Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award
Finalist for the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Peter Gizzi has been hailed as one of the most significant and distinctive voices writing today. Gathered from over five collections, and representing close to twenty five years of work, the poems in this generous selection strike a dynamic balance of honesty, emotion, intellectual depth and otherworldly resonance—in Gizzi’s work, poetry itself becomes a primary ground of human experience. Haunted, vibrant, and saturated with luminous detail, Gizzi’s poetry enlists the American vernacular in a magical and complex music. In Defense of Nothing is an immensely valuable introduction to the work of this extraordinary and singular poet.
These poems perform at the interior thresholds encountered each day, where we negotiate the proximities of knowing and not knowing, the gulf of seeing and feeling, the uncanny relation of grief to joy, and the borderless nature of selfhood and tradition. At once conceptual and haunted, these poems explore the asymmetries of the body’s chemistry and its effects on expression and form.
The Outernationale locates us “just of the grid,” in an emotional and spiritual frontier, where reverie, outrage, history, and vision merge. Thinking and feeling become one in the urgent music of Peter Gizzi’s poems. Saturated with luminous detail, these original poems possess, even in their sorrowing moments, a dizzying freedom. Objects, images, and their histories are caught here in their half-life, their profoundly human after-life. Gizzi has written a brilliant follow-up to Some Values of Landscape and Weather, a work hailed by Robert Creeley as “a breakthrough book in every way: for reader, for writer, and for the art.”
Periplum and other poems brings together Peter Gizzi’s celebrated and influential first book, out of print for nearly a decade, with 60 pages of early and uncollected work. The vibrancy and immediacy of Gizzi’s poems constitute 21st-century lyricism at its best, a richly complex music engaged with the crucial questions of and around contemporary culture. His poems achieve a delicate balance of emotional and intellectual richness and the sense of poetry itself as a primary ground of human experience.
Peter Gizzi’s poems move between bewilderment and understanding, anger and astonishment. Some Values of Landscape and Weather revives poetic architectures such as elegy, song, and litany, to build what he calls “a comprehensive music.” Here musical and pictorial values perform against a backdrop of political, social, and ethical values. These intense and exacting poems traverse a landscape of cultural memory that opens into the explosive, vibrant registers of the now. John Ashbery has written that Gizzi’s poems are “simultaneously all over the page and right on target. He is the most exciting new poet to come along in quite a while.”
Peter Gizzi’s new book negotiates the intersection of artifice and the turbulent domain of feeling. The book recuperates the concerns of the 11th-century troubadour poets—the hermetic display of love, politics, statehood, and grief— in the present. Formally the collection is a sampling of lyric history from the troubadours to post-industrial punk: it sustains the haunting quality of a song heard from a distance, overlayed with playground noise, lovers’ oaths and cries of loss. The poems both celebrate and challenge the spell of the physical world over the imagination, narrating the gap between embrace and abandonment.
Peter Gizzi’s pizzazz-filled poems are simultaneously all over the page and right on target. He is the most exciting new poet to come along in quite a while.