Poetry by Paul Violi

June 1, 2000 • 6 x 9 • 128 pages • 978-1-56689-099-1

“In his first 10 books, Violi’s alchemical dream to change jokey comedy into pure poetry has placed him among Charles North, Tony Towle and Bill Zavatsky in the Shaggy Dog Studies department of the New York School. As with those poets at their lyric best, the poet presented in these seven long poems and series eschews puns, in-jokes, and cliches in favor of a reasonable romanticism amidst the mud and debris of an everyday life barely restraining its absurdity. ‘You can sigh like a distance,’ he writes in ‘Sputter and Blaze,’ a love poem set in a propeller factory, later admonishing, ‘night-soft flutter close your eyes / saying not yes not no not maybe.’ ‘Triptych,’ a poem in the form of TV program listings, is a chance for a beautiful haiku sneak attack, and ‘Harmatan,’ an early diaristic work melding life in New York City and along the Hudson with Peace Corps work in Nigeria, sustains its exuberance across 49 remarkable anecdotes. . . . In all, though, Violi’s a humane vision of laughter, and Breakers is a breakthrough collection.” —Publishers Weekly


“One tour-de-force after another, each with an impressive sureness of touch. . . . No poet writing today has a greater breadth of sensibility than Violi, or expresses it in a greater range of styles, or uses more of the devices that poetry has to offer. His poems inspire the feelings of excitement about life that is, still, the ultimate function of art.” —Tony Towle