An Utterance That Becomes a Person

On Now It’s Dark


Charles Bernstein

Peter Gizzi’s books have reinvented — why not just say haunted? — the lyric over the past decades, combing dark, melancholic plaint with unexpectedly tender feints, choruses, and refrains. Gizzi leads with the music of resonance; his lush surfaces have given his poems an unmistakable stamp. The voice in these poems is a construction that becomes an utterance that becomes a person. The poems are searing but not self-centered. Imagine fusing the most diffuse Schuyler with the most over-the-top Wieners, to use two paradigmatic examples of poetries quite remote in time from Gizzi’s. And yet that would not take into account a procedural/formal dimension of some of this work. He “samples” mood, tone, and atmosphere in a poetics of subliminal pensiveness. Gizzi has an engagement with American vernacular that works to give a pulsing palpability to his speculative/philosophical reflections/ruminations. His poems always feel grounded in, well, the supreme fiction of the ordinary/everyday. But also in the supreme fact of death and the necessity for mourning.