BOOK REVIEW: David Giannini’s new poems, summoning transcendent moments overlookedMore Info
Faces Somewhere Wild
$17 Dos Madres Press, 2017
Becket — The first two poems in David Giannini’s newest collection, Faces Somewhere Wild (Dos Madres Press, 2017), can’t help but invite a reader, situated in Berkshire County in May, to linger among its pages. The Becket resident’s newest volume spans his 45 years in the Berkshire hilltowns of Massachusetts where Giannini, the poet-hunter who identifies himself as prey, finds himself in search of what waits at the threshold of expression: well-crafted poems that celebrate the connectivity of all things living.
Giannini celebrates the quotidian, drawing attention to details and moments most often overlooked. The poet begins with “Local Thoughts” in which he personifies, “The extravagant coma of ice [that]opens its eyes in March.” This image is altogether familiar and unusual given the poet’s perspective. We, too, have experienced the upheaval he captures: “The dynamo in the Earth’s interior is unstable/such that on occasion the field weakens, loses/its bipolar character, and regenerates.”
In “Anecdotes of Spring,” Giannini continues with a variation on his theme: the cycle of life, ever present in nature, and the perpetual reciprocity it employs. He declares, “After long darkness and ice/every childhood turns over/spring–kids gallop into sunlight.” Seemingly disparate worlds collide in his short, punctuated lines — those of humans and nature, past and present, innocence and experience – -and the result is equally paradoxical: they render pairings that are simultaneously harmonious and jarring. Poet Paul Pines says of Giannini, “our guide through the Berkshires renders the vessel of creation as both full and empty….deliberately [making] no attempt to resolve the paradox.” It is this central tension that urges the reader on in hopes of further clarity.
Giannini’s poems are rife with echoes of country life; he makes more than one reference to chopping wood and building stonewalls, he articulates the beauty of owls and foxes, and delivers odes to the magnificence of Mount Greylock and Monument Mountain. There is a transcendent quality to his themes, one that delineates the continuum in life rather than the specific entries and exits, beginnings and endings. In his poem “Above and Below the Quarry,” Giannini invites the reader to be part of this exploration, deeming “that All of us [are] living with and against experience.”
Joseph Hutchinson, Poet Laureate of Colorado, has called Giannini’s work a “deep structured celebration of life-in-language and language-in-life.” In an interview published on his blog Hutchinson asks Giannini to name three members of his personal Pantheon — playing on the large, circular ancient Roman temple — as a means of designating a group of individuals who are exceptional or influential in some way. Giannini, in response, cites Shakespeare, Rilke and Dickinson. He goes on to elaborate:
“I believe that for each of those three poetry was no mere subject to be studied, as in an MFA program, but a daily and natural event in their lives — language as it was living in and around them; and each shaped their occasions of poetry according to their developing vision or envisionings within experience. Each obtained a new angle, a way of seeing, under the sun, and that’s the best any artist can do, find her or his own angle and then “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant —.” [Emily Dickinson]
David Giannini’s work appears in national and international literary magazines and anthologies. He started and hosts Writers Read, an ongoing series of monthly readings by poets and fiction writers presented at the Lee Library in Lee, Mass. Paul Pines, in his concluding remarks, says “Faces Somewhere Wild is a perch where the burden of mortality touches our hearts. Highly recommended.” For more information about the poet, and to purchase his book, visit www.davidgiannini.com.