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February 16, 1998

Celebrated poet to release two books this spring

Peter Gizzi

By Barbara McKenna

It's been a busy year for poet and assistant professor of literature Peter Gizzi. Not only has Gizzi been teaching, advising students who are producing a poetry journal, bringing visiting poets to campus, and of course, writing his own poetry, he is also overseeing publication this spring of two books.

A collection of Gizzi's poems titled Artificial Heart will be released March 15 by Burning Deck press, a distinguished small press based in Rhode Island. This is Gizzi's second published collection.

As the title indicates, Artificial Heart negotiates artifice and the turbulent domain of feeling. The book recuperates the concerns of the 11th-century troubadour poets--the hermetic display of love, politics, statehood, and grief--in the present. Formally, the collection is a sampling of lyric history from the troubadour tradition to postindustrial punk: It sustains the haunting quality of a song heard from a distance, overlaid with playground noise, lovers' oaths, and cries of loss. The poems both celebrate and challenge the spell of the physical world over the imagination, narrating the gap between embrace and abandonment. (Read "Tous Les Matins Du Monde" from Artificial Heart.)

The collection is one of three publications either by or including the work of Gizzi that will be released this spring. The others are a critical work on San Francisco Bay Area poet Jack Spicer and an anthology with a lengthy selection of Gizzi's poems. The fact that Gizzi has produced both critically acclaimed poetry and groundbreaking critical work is not suprising, given his noted talent for striking balances between extremities and finding kinship in contrast.

Gizzi's book on Spicer--The House that Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer--will be released in May by Wesleyan University Press. The book was just featured as the cover story in the January/February issue of the American Poetry Review.

A selection of Gizzi's poetry will also be featured in An Anthology of New (American) Poets, which will be released by Talisman House later this spring.

Gizzi came to UCSC in the fall of 1995. In 1994 he received the prestigious Lavan Younger Poets Award, given annually by the Academy of American Poets. He has also twice received the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative North American Poetry (1993-94 and 1994-95).

Publications of his work include Periplum (1992) and the chapbooks, Hours of the Book (1994) and Music for Films (1992). His poems have been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 1995, Sixty Years of American Poetry, and 49 + 1 Nouveaux Poetes Americains, among many others. He has been awarded artist grants from the Fund for Poetry and the Rex Foundation. Gizzi's previous editing projects include the celebrated "little magazine" o blek: a journal of language arts (1987­93) and the international literary anthology Exact Change Yearbook (1995).

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