Joseph Ceravolo’s Collected Poems, reviewed at Rain Taxi

The excitement surrounding the publication of Joseph Ceravolo’s Collected Poems (recently put out by Wesleyan) continues with a very positive review at Rain Taxi by Patrick James Dunagan.  (I recently wrote about Peter Riley’s review of the Ceravolo collection here).

Dunagan writes

For the last few decades Joseph Ceravolo has remained a much celebrated but relatively underground figure associated with the so-called second-generation New York School of Poets. Those readers who have taken an interest in him have usually been led to do so from either word of mouth or after having come across his work in Ron Padgett and David Shapiro’s 1970 An Anthology of New York Poets. Yet it has been maddeningly difficult to get a hold of his books; nothing has been in print for years … For these reasons and more, the upcoming publication of Ceravolo’s Collected Poems has been generating quite the buzz of expectation, and in no way does it disappoint.

Dunagan offers some very high praise, calling the collection “one of the greatest publications of formerly unavailable poems by an American poet since Frank O’Hara’s own Collected Poems.”  For more on the buzz surrounding this book, check out Seth Abramson’s review, the Publisher’s Weekly review, and the all-star lineup for the reading to celebrate the book’s publication at the Poetry Project back in April 2013.  Vincent Katz also recently edited a terrific feature devoted to Ceravolo’s work at Jacket2 that appeared in March.

Although his work has clear connections to other currents in New York School poetry, Ceravolo’s remarkable poetry is unlike anyone else’s.  As Kenneth Koch once wrote of his work, “to read these poems is to be refreshed and surprised.  They are the real thing.”  Just one small example — here’s a quiet, sweet Ceravolo poem I’ve always liked:

COOL BREEZE

In the night,
in the day
it’s possible to be defeated,
but how I love.
We walk down.
The children feel warm
but where is defeat?
I look up
The sun is
on the wet glass. The beach
where I love is now cool.
The children are still warm.

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