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This review is taken from PN Review 158, Volume 30 Number 6, July - August 2004.

A SKATEBOARD ON A RIDGE PETER GIZZI, Some Values of Landscape and Weather (Wesleyan University Press) $13.95

This book contains at least a dozen poems of outstanding achievement, in some of which the poet seems to depart from the kind of poetry he nurtures in the greater part of his work. They seem to represent a bursting out, possibly in impatience, from both the complexity and the constrictions of the current American poetical idiolect. They are simpler, clearer, and of larger breath. This shift is all the more interesting since Peter Gizzi has achieved so much without it, and has already established a territory of his own which quite transcends the university-ridden expectations of the American scene. It is a territory of paradox: `Paradox asks so much from us / we often experience it as grace' (p.94).

The familiar and the strange become co-present. They become, at times, the same thing. You could pause at many points and find that you know where you are and what's happening, and at the same time you know neither; this is a real human voice speaking to you, and this is an artificial non-voice addressing no one; the words are connected to a known world, and the words are isolated in their own enigmas. The poetry runs, a skateboard on a ridge, between these hollows, veering now this way now that. The dominant sense is of a discourse, an address, in which individual experience is so deeply embedded that objective and subjective perception are indistinguishable. The strength of word and image lies in a coherence among known ...


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