This selection of W. S. Di Piero’s poems, covering eight individual collections over the last quarter century and offering fifteen strong new poems, is a chance to savor the career of a poet enthralled by the seductive music of life as it is lived. Here are Di Piero’s consuming preoccupations: the pull of faith and the suspicion of transcendence; urban worlds and the mysterious jazz of street language; desire and sexual need and love and loss, everything marked by what one early poem calls “the bruise of chance.” Through it all, Di Piero delivers what he has called, in William James’s phrase, “the hard, bright particulars of physical existence.” No poet is more visceral; these poems carry the sparkling tension and urgency of an artist who does not write or live intellectually, but locally. Di Piero’s sensibility seems to spring from the mood on the streets of San Francisco or float down from the flung-open shutters in his ancestors’ Italian villages; the economy of his language has its source in his native South Philly, where “When I was young, they taught us not to ask. / Accept what’s there . . . Brick homes, Your Show of Shows, / the mothball fleet and flaring oilworks.”“Poetry exists not to simplify our sense of life and death but to absorb and express its complexities and mixed tones,” Di Piero has written. Throughout this volume, those tones are at play, as this essential poet squares up in front of experience and all it brings.
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Chinese Apples; New and Selected Poems
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