densities, apparitions by William Allegrezza A Review by J.J Hastain
Cover image by Deborah Meadows
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This book explores influence by crossing out or responding to poets who have influenced me. The Whitman and Andrade pieces are cross-outs, and anyone familiar with the first version of Calamus will notice that I did not respond to the entire collection. I left out pieces that I did not think would cut well for my project or pieces that have too much personal meaning for me. The response pieces to Leopardi and Neruda are probably even more telling, for in these pieces, it is sometimes difficult to see how the pieces directly relate to the original. Still, the influence is there reworked through my experience. —William Allegrezza
William Allegrezza edits the e-zine Moria and teaches at Indiana University Northwest. He has previously published five books, In the Weaver's Valley, Ladders in July, Fragile Replacements, Collective Instant, and Covering Over; two anthologies, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century and La Alteración del Silencio: Poesía Norteamericana Reciente; seven chapbooks, including Sonoluminescence (co-written with Simone Muench) and Filament Sense (Ypolita Press); and many poetry reviews, articles, and poems. He founded and curated series A, a reading series in Chicago, from 2006-2010. In addition, he occasionally posts his thoughts at Allegrezza Blog.
Review of William Allegrezza’s densities, apparitions (Otoliths 2011)
Allegrezza’s new book densities, apparitions is a soft and dually “wild peopled” space. Asserting some sort of gentle, probing effort to engage its many-contented materials and to know itself by “music as touch,” I feel like this book is “body for body”—a site wherein subtle exchanges between speaker/ poet and bodies/ inhabitants of environment happen as we move through. This is a tender treatise, to say the least.
I was touched here by the lyricism and the flow through the “i”. I always appreciate when the I can be a mild leader and not didactic. That was certainly the case with Allegrezza’s new book. From lyrical phrases like “wrapping a central figurine/ in fire” or “we see and have not/ seen the fruit waiting for touch” to “i have told you about the/ sadness of wings with no/ hearts” and “my heart. i was not allowed to say to you” we get the gift of sensuousness and invitation. Of feeling along with the “i” and not being overwhelmed by it.
densities, apparitions is composed of four sections: Central Figurine (Twenty Sonnets after Pablo Neruda’s Viente oemas de amor una cancion desesperada), A Time Arrived (after Carlos Drummond de Andrade), Profits, Conformities, (after Walt Whitman’s Calamus section of Leaves of Grass) and Idylls Sleeping on the March’s Edge (with titles from Giacomo Leopardi’s L’infinito). Although delineated into these sections there is a general tonal flow throughout the book. I am saying that at no point did I feel jolted by difference. In fact I felt held in by sound (“I will say what I have to say, by/ sound only” […] “i/ talk to hear”) as I read.
In the duration of the book there was a curled repeating regarding the day, dusk and night. The presences of these times--what they foster in an observer and in a participant. “The sun comforts things” illuminating “pretend absence[s].” Taking us “far in the wilds” where we are “wafted in all directions,” but so without harshness or shock. Even the cut up sections of the book offer a marque of lubrication.
It is my pleasure to say that “I mainly became born” differently as I moved through. That is certainly a different somatic experience than having merely crossed. I feel like this book is looking for an ally to share its “passion, ,never constrained” and I am happy to call myself its ally—perhaps even its confidant. I am saying that I have been gratifyingly coaxed toward it by way of it and that makes me somehow
another of its “i’s”.
j/j hastain 2011
j/j hastain is the author of several cross genre books including long past the presence of common (Say it with Stones Press) and trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press).
Email: j/j hastain
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