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Other titles in the Karen & Michael Braziller Books series:
Apocalyptic Swing (Karen & Michael Braziller Books)
Synopses & Reviews
Rarely has a first book of poems been more exalted than Gabrielle Calvocoressi's The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart, which the Times Literary Supplement called "an excoriation of present-day America by a new and lethal commentator." Now, in this extraordinary follow-up, Calvocoressi continues her mission to document the particular hardships of derelict American small towns.
These, though, are different poems, their lens cracked and turned on a narrator seeking her own deliverance from abandonment and violence. Battered but never beaten, this narrator finds salvation in ecstatic communion with the gods of jazz and especially boxing: "O Tommy Hearns, O blood come down," she prays. "Find your way to Hungerford where my/father glowers over me. Show him/how the bag does penance." In such prayers she finds the strength to survive the home she has to leave and, once she does, the strength to face the fires she finds flaring the country over, from Los Angeles to Laramie. Apocalyptic Swing is a work of unbelievable force, a devastating and glorious testimony about America--its lore, disappointments, and promise.
"Muscular and musical, this second collection from Calvocoressi (The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart) combines boxing, Elvis, church burnings, sex and horses to produce a book that is pure Americana. Exploring the parameters of masculinity, Calvocoressi plays with the gender of the narrative voice from poem to poem, 'Have you/ ever gotten hit or thrown against a wall?/ There's a sweetness to it, at that moment when/ your God would forgive you anything.' The result is a not unpleasant ambiguity. Unafraid of interacting poetically with severe subject matter, in 'Fence' she describes the murder of Matthew Shepard in the voice of a disgusted everyman. 'They took that boy and tied him to a fence/ and beat him till he didn't know his mother's/ name.' Boxing is the overlying theme of the collection; in 'Fugue' Calvocoressi turns Rilke's 'Archaic Torso' toward Duk-Koo Kim, the South Korean lightweight who died after a fight with Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini: 'For here there is no television/ that does not see you.' Calvocoressi's poetic intensity makes energetic identity politics into verse: 'Take my hand,/ take my whole life too. I've slicked/ my hair back, I've made myself/ a boy for you.' This is a compelling sophomore effort from a very promising poet." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Finalist for the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry.
If Friday Night Lightswas a book of poems, this would be that book. Without sacrificing one iota of poetic imagination or brilliance, Gaby Calvocoressi writes unbelievably potent poetry that everyday people connect with, poetry about real lives set in the real world. The small-town settings she writes of aren"t happy'"there"s brutality and bigotry'"but the poems have a beauty and spiritedness that makes them feel incredibly heroic. The book contains unforgettable poems about jazz and boxing, two things to which its speaker turns to find solace and confidence. Reminiscent of work by Philip Levine and Mary Karr, it is a book about America, in all of its struggling and defiantly hopeful glory.
About the Author
Gabrielle Calvocoressi has won the Bernard F. Connors Prize from the Paris Review and a Rona Jaffe Award for Emerging Women Writers. She teaches in the graduate writing programs of California College of the Arts and Warren Wilson College. She lives in Los Angeles.
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