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Joe Milazzo has assembled a miraculously turbulent pattern language. Here, we feel the self as sentient weather, positioned to consider the spaces where individual perception, networked systems, and institutional power converge. More phenomenologist than flâneur, the perceiver in these poems insists on re-inhabiting 'the how / of feeling.' Each page folds in on itself with intimate acuity.
From the opening salvo of this epic 'paean to some city imagined further / from the sanctities that detach me / from my dissatisfactions,' Joe Milazzo’s Of All Places in this Place Of All Places enacts its revolt against documentary poetics’ received ideas. Why? Perhaps because 'we no longer live in a world of reign,' but rather, one in which 'is there a man in that plane overhead' is 'no longer a child's question.' From its first stanza, in which 'sunrise is a trap' of 'splintered / cyan' viewed through 'an aperture inverting,' this book-length poem inverts how we perceive, replacing photographic pretensions to documentary authority with the resonant complexity of inquiry. Chief among Milazzo's queries: 'is there something to be noticed differently' than thought, in order to 'uncover some feeling / untransferably mine?' This book enacts the poet’s call and response towards a literature untethered from literary cliché — not only the hegemony of subjectivity, but the very notion of the 'literary' as poetic material. In its place, we are treated to a precise and evocative 'daydream of observance along / progress' rim' in which 'the widened welcome for houses never erected / never open to this undivided road / as divisive still as a highway' richly rewards our attention to an unsung swath of these divided states.
This is a poem about 'our town' with all its violence. Two-dimensional fractured chronicles of the self and austere lines for formal contrast. The two dimensional here is not in the "projective" tradition, it is its own completely. Fast rays of existence going everywhere. These rays are not benign, they at times feel like dangerous splinters that point at different struggles: personal and collective. This is poetry that keeps it new because it has to. What a treat.
Joe Milazzo is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and The Habiliments, a volume of poetry. He co-edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing], is a Contributing Editor at Entropy, and is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX, where he was born and raised. His virtual location is www.joe-milazzo.com.