The Tame Magpie

Paul Violi. Hanging Loose (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (48p) ISBN 978-193490940-9
In this posthumous collection, his 14th, Violi (Overnight) remains as vibrant as ever, imploring readers in the titular poem to "Consider the goldfinch who feeds on thorn/ And thistle yet sings a lovely song." With formal innovation and endless wit, Violi delivers lyrical lines that leave one "Afloat in the same place, hour after hour," like "Blossoms and vultures wrapped in the same/ White whirling minute." Even when he's at his most satirical it's impossible to overlook the "Little beauties and what-not," for in these poems it's practically guaranteed that "a surprise or two/ Will ignite an idle hour." Aside from "Heap" (a massive pile of text outlining Violi's exhaustive work history) and the 16 hilarious "Further I.D.'s," the collection features work that is fragmentary but nevertheless so keenly attuned to the minutia of everyday life "That if crooners changed one word, form/ And sense would collapse at their feet." Though the book lacks cohesion, "It's the impurities that give color to the flames," and the poems exude the contentedness of a man in the final months of a joyful life. As with so many of Violi's poems, the reader is left with the sense that "Hope ascends, a strand of smoke wrenching itself into a lily." (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/28/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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