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Review of Overnight by Paul Violi – Published in Italian Americana Summer 2010 issue

    In his eleventh book of poems, Overnight, Paul Violi experiments with what a poem can be.

He sets up everyday happenings as the basis for poems and then constructs it w/ the unusual as in his poem “Counterman” where in the first part, the counterman keeps not hearing what the customer doesn’t want on his roast beef sandwich and then the next order is given artistic pretensions

 

The lettuce splayed, if you will

In a Beaux Arts derivative of classical acanthus

And the roast beef thinly sliced, folded in a multi-foil arrangement

That eschews Bragdonian pretensions

 

Or in “A Podiatrist Crawls Home in the Moonlight” where he forms the poem from minimalist descriptions:

 

Right knee left foot

Left Knee right foot

Right ouch

Asphalt

 

Elbow knee

Elbow foot

Knee foot

Foot slip

Face hurt

 

And yet gives us the complete picture.

 

    He plays with different visual constructions such as “The Art of Restoration “where he designs a poem in the form of the yin-yang symbol; a hard task for most poets but Violi pulls it off writing not just one poem but two different poems; one on the yin side, one on the yang side; a grand total of three poems. Bravo!!

 

    In his “Acknowledgments” poems, he plays with the time honored tradition of the acknowledgement page and instead of just listing magazines where he has been published, lists favorite poems and non-literary magazines:

 

“The author wishes to express profound gratitude to the following publications in which some of these works previously appeared: Architectural Digest: “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison”; Teen Life: “On the Death of Chatterton”; Cosmopolitan: “Constancy to an Ideal Object”; Bon Appétit: “Drinking versus Thinking,” “The Eagle and the Tortoise”; La Cucina Italiana: “Fire, Famine and Slaughter”; House Beautiful: “Kublai Khan,” “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison”; Better Homes and Gardens: “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison”…

 

    Not all the poems in this book are experimental; Paul Violi is also a capable poet when it comes to more formal pieces such as “Written in a Time of Worry and Woe” or “To Dante Alighieri” that are in sonnet form or “Pastorale”. In short, there is much in this book to delight readers of good poetry.

 

 

 

                                                                             Vittoria repetto

                                                                         Italian American Writers Assoc.

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