November 28, 2010

Michael Gizzi

Michael Gizzi [USA]

Born in Schenectady, New York, Michael Gizzi has lived the majority of his life in Providence, Rhode Island and Lenox, Massachusetts. He earned degrees in English and Creative Writing from Brown University. He spent the next decade as a licensed arborist in southern New England. He was during this period closely associated with the poets surrounding Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop’s Burning Deck Press, which published three volumes of his poetry: Bird As (1976), Avis (1979), and Species of Intoxication (1983).

Gizzi moved in the early 1980s to the Berkshires in westernmost Massachusetts, where he began teaching. For the next twenty years he coordinated many poetry readings, most notably at Simon’s Rock of Bard College and at Arrowhead, the former home of Herman Melville. These readings included among others: Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, James Schuyler, Bernadette Mayer, Clark Coolidge, Michael Palmer, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Rosmarie Waldrop, Harry Mathews, and Emmanuel Hocquard.

Throughout the 1990s Gizzi edited Hard Press and lingo magazine. The press published a variety of titles, among them Bernadette Mayer’s classic Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters, Merrill Gilfillan’s poetic travelogue Burnt House to Paw Paw, and Trevor Winkfield’s resplendent art book Pageant. Gizzi has continued in this publishing vein with Qua Press, which he co-edits with poet Craig Watson in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

Gizzi has collaborated on a number of projects with Clark Coolidge. Hard Press published their Lowell Connector: Lines and Shots from Kerouac’s Lowell in 1993. John Ashbery said of Gizzi’s No Both (1997), “Razor sharp but also rich and generously compelling, Michael Gizzi’s poetry lambastes as it celebrates, bringing us finally to a place of poignant irresolution.” He is presently a visiting lecturer at Brown University, where he coordinates the Downcity Poetry Series.

Gizzi died in 2010.


Bird As (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1976); Avis (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1979); Species of Intoxication (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck,1983); Just Like a Real Italian Kid (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures 1990); Continental Harmony (New York: Roof Books,1991); Gyptian in Hortulus (Providence, Rhode Island: Paradigm Press,1991); Interferon (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures,1995); No Both (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures/West Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Hard Press,1997); Too Much Johnson (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures,1999); Cured in the Going Bebop (Providence, Rhode Island: Paradigm Press,1999); My Terza Rima (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 2001); The Depths of Deadpan (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck: 2009); The Collected Poems of Michael Gizzi (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Firgures: 2015)

╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
A Brodeyak (1942-1993)

It's not humility I'm after nor the pit of my gums
that change verbose signals in this cocoon I keep decoding
call it Opera Buffo just stay the hell away from my noses
they're too rheumy for the harpoons you swallow

Consider the swabby who shares me to you
from perfect glottal yodelling in the next-to-nothing sense
Davy Jones hipflask in the john forsythia
53 rounds with the storied Mazeppa
ballpeen on the lens infiltrating looks waving glemas

And I think how your nails must feel
stuck in a magazine trollop
your sunny likeness misfit to this undertow elongating
thirst for disintegration that lines the sides of shadows
emitting phosphor atop replays one stops to ignore

The child swing ruffian giddyap truck tire rascalings
in grey air as if crystal clicked into memory tic
crystallized names and fallen trees
fallen as this passion inside of me
as you drop to your knees for a taste from another sun

Reprinted for Object. Copyright (c)1994 by Michael Gizzi

╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Chimes at Midnight

The father in exile
stripped of his sundial
borrows the equator for a belt

the son in translation
misrules on a run-through
for eternity

noon would love to behave
like midnight
for once

the past
rides out of houses
green with red breath

only the billowing overcoat
is left everything else
is made up

Reprinted from Big Bridge, III, no. 2 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Michael Gizzi.

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