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In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011

Overview

Since his celebrated first book of poetry, 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 ...
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In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011

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Overview

Since his celebrated first book of poetry, 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. Check for the online reader’s companion at http://petergizzi.site.weleyan.edu.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/31/2014
One of the more prominent voices in contemporary American poetry, Gizzi (Threshold Songs) works in a style that is as innovative as it is singular and unique. These poems, taken from five different collections, are in places comedic and playful, elsewhere elegiac and devastatingly honest, reflecting a careful approach to form and a finely tuned musical ear. Much of the work tends to stack its images, oscillating between the concrete and the ethereal as it gains momentum: “The heart of poetry,” Gizzi writes in “Pierced,” “is fatigue/ what the teachers left unsaid/ a whimpering man inside the child,” but also “a skinny leg inside a blown out shoe/ at the side of the ocean.” Throughout, moments of self-consciousness emerge, interrogating the capability of language in representing experience. In “Revival,” an elegiac call to Gregory Corso, the voice declares: “I was talking about rending, reading, rewriting/ what is seen.../ I want an art that can say what I am feeling.” Gizzi’s poetry is “silly with clarity,” infused with a restless vernacular that can elevate the mundane while making the impossible tangible. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“As elegant as they are profound, these poems represent close to 25 years of work. In this substantial volume, Gizzi regales us with minimalist narrative, long lyrics and prose poems which are studies in human perception. Gizzi’s central theme is how the human mind converts objects and lived experiences into poetry. For Gizzi, poetry itself is a field of human experience…. As a whole, Gizzi’s “In Defense of Nothing” affirms the notion that poetry is a form of salvation for those who are willing to do the hard work of turning perceptions into the “second tongue we call grammar.” It is a book worthy of all who love art and all who love to express themselves through poetry.”
—Sonja James, The Journal

“Gizzi’s poetry is ‘silly with clarity,’ infused with a restless vernacular that can elevate the mundane while making the impossible tangible.”
—Publisher’s Weekly

“In Defense of Nothing Selected Poems 1987-2011splendidly champions Gizzi as a major force in the ever-expanding vastness of the poetry world. His well-earned spot as an integral influential force of our time is thus firmly staked out.”
—Patrick James Dunagan, Bookslut

“(T)this collection is a well-curated cross-section of a career that has always resisted categorization, borrowing from lyric, narrative, and avant-garde traditions. … Gizzi (is) a poet whose interest lies in articulating his experience of the world in all its disorienting glory.”
—American Poets

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819574305
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/2014
  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Pages: 244
  • Sales rank: 960,906
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

PETER GIZZI is the author of Threshold Songs, The Outernationale, Some Values of Landscape and Weather, Artificial Heart, and Periplum. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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Table of Contents

FROM PERIPLUM, AND OTHER POEMS
Song of the Interior Begin
Periplum
Blue Peter
Still Life With Automobile
Thirty Sentences for No One
Poem for John Wieners
Despite Your Notices
Psalm
Deus ex Machina
Song of the Den
Periplum VII (A Valentine)
FROM ARTIFICIAL HEART
New Picnic Time
Toy
Another Day on the Pilgrimage
Speck
Will Call
Ledge Domain
Lonely Tylenol
Reed
Caption
Pierced
Fables of Critique
A Textbook of Chivalry
FROM SOME VALUES OF LANDSCAPE AND WEATHER
Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear
The Ethics of Dust
A History of the Lyric
Add This to the House
Some Values of Landscape and Weather
Overtakelessness
Hawthorne
Edgar Poe
Revival
To be Written in no Other Country
In Defense of Nothing
Lessons in Darkness
It was Raining in Delft
Fin Amor
Beginning With a Phrase
From Simone Weil
FROM THE OUTERNATIONALE
A Panic That Can Still Come Upon Me
The Quest
Stung
Untitled Amherst Specter
A Telescope Protects its View
That’s Life
Nocturne
Vincent, Homesick for The Land of Pictures
Wintry Mix
Saturday and its Festooned Potential
The Moonlight Defense
Bolshevescent
The Outernationale
FROM THRESHOLD SONGS
The Growing Edge
Lullaby
Hypostasis & New Year
Eye of the Poem
Snow Globe
Analemma
This Trip Around the Sun is Expensive
Basement Song
Pinocchio’s Gnosis
Tiny Blast
Tradition & The Indivisible Talent
Apocrypha
A Note on the Text
Oversong
History is Made at Night
Bardo
Modern Adventures at Sea
Fragment (To the Reader)
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