PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Thomas Kinsella in conversation Jeffrey Wainwright comes to grips with St Chad Hsien Min Toh gives us a Korean perspective Iain Bamforth on Lou and Fritz: Sensible Shoes meets Starstruck Judith Bishop on Love and Self-Understanding in an Algorhythmic Age

This review is taken from PN Review 220, Volume 41 Number 2, November - December 2014.

A Believable Foothold peter gizzi, In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems 1987–2011 (Wesleyan) £21

Besides being a collection of the most compelling American poems of the last thirty years, Peter Gizzi’s Selected Poems is the story of how a poet schooled in the radical deconstructive tradition of Language poetry ended up reimagining the lyric for the twenty-first century.

Proceeding backwards, Threshold Songs from 2011 is one of the most striking sets of poems the century has produced so far. The fragile self-examination of this book, motivated by the deaths of his parents and his brother, the poet Michael Gizzi, is such that a new voice entirely seems to have entered the language. The work’s stress on contingency and flux, combined with a commitment to the lyric so refused by the traditions of radical American poetry Gizzi emerges from, creates a living form of soul-making – forms of enquiry, hesitance and failure that articulate for grounding in the contemporary’s ‘changing light’:

that you’re gone
and I’m gone what
did we learn
what did we take
from that oh
always dilating
now that you’re here
and also gone
I am just learning
that threshold
and changing light
a leafy-shaped blue
drifting above
an upstate New York
Mohican light
a tungsten light
boxcar lights
an oaken table-rapping
archival light
burnt over, shaking

There is not simply change in Gizzi’s world, but a metamorphic way of seeing; we are ‘always dilating’. Gizzi seeks ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image