Sitting in Thom Lux’s MFA poetry workshop at Sarah Lawrence College some years ago, Joey Nicoletti would offer generous feedback about our poems and share lovely ones himself. His insightful new collection, Borrowed Dust, reminded me of how much I enjoyed those early poems.
When I read poems and actually nod in response to the truth within, I start to wish that I had written them. This is what happened when I read, and re-read, the narrative poems in Borrowed Dust. Starting with "Why I Don’t Speak Italian", Joey brings the reader into not only the Italian-American experience, but also the immigrant experience. He gives animates family members and invites the reader to join them. The last two stanzas read:
It’s a chorus of sobs, the kind you hear
between the words of a eulogy
crackling from a podium microphone.
My people came from Italy,
bringing only what they could carry,
their clothes and baggage
drenched in sea-salt and those sounds.
Earlier, the poem offers voice to family members and community members. With these voices, the sobs, and the less defined words beneath, the reader is in Joey’s world. It is exactly the recently lost generation of my own family. I nod as I read.
My favorite poem is the short poem, “The Cremation of Saturn.” Saturn and a cremation make appearances, but there is a twist. The poet draws surprising connections and offers readers new insight into our communal world. I nod not because I’ve had the experience myself, but because it feels as though I have after reading such confident writing.
I know that you’ll want to read “The Cremation of Saturn” and the entirety of Borrowed Dust. In honor of this last week of Poetry Month, you can win a copy of his book.
To enter is simple:
Leave a comment below by noon, EST, Thursday, April 28th. You will be entered into a drawing to win the book. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced the evening of Thursday, April 28th.
Joe Nicoletti teaches writing at Niagra University. I encourage you to visit his website to learn more. You can find him reading on April 29th at Niagara University. Look for his next book, Cannoli Gangster, from Turning Point Books, in August of 2012.