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By: Peter Magliocco
30 Poems/36 pages/ $8.95
Pudding House Publications
81 Shadymere Lane
Columbus, Ohio 43213

ISBN 1-58998-349-1

Review By: Charles P. Ries

I had to work hard to get through the thirty poems in Peter Magliocco's
fifth book of poetry entitled, This Junkyard Heaven. It is an intense,
highly focused set of poems created in a very large and well-schooled mind.
In a recent Books & Authors interview with Magliocco he notes no fewer then
eighty-eight favorite writers, listing among them: Mailer, Kerouac, James
Purdy, Boll, Grass, Sontag, Beckett, George Sand, Sartre, Camus, and Chekov.
Magliocco's literary interests are as rangy and challenging as the poems in
this dense and intellectually rich work.

Here are two examples from This Junkyard Heaven. The first entitled; "the
hallowed cave": "what rings off the soft shell / old pain we hoped to keep
inside / beyond clinical flesh-resurrections /medicare doesn't pay for / or
any stay in Hotel Heaven /depicted in a Bosch crowd scene /with
computer-colored enhancement /your tan legs kick in a spam god's brothel/
time won't spasm between us /our stem cells in love's test tube /a crystal
bukkake the drunk drink /as a wonk midwife spirits our progeny/from
lantern-lipped crevices." And this one entitled; "nirvana": the entrapment
of fallen stars / brandishing what corporate insignia / time-tattered
reliquary indisposes / our blood seeps / into silent rain // sometimes, in
effigy of sleep / the morning's a far-off vestibule / -cloistered by
brightly colored paintings - / waiting for our entrance // while / keening
for our presence / Blake's tigers maul / throats of Vegan magicians /
revealing what elixir of bodies // our bones whiter than pale rabbits /
inside divine top hats, / cats spring born again / squealing with animal
faith / intimidating our human tread // (waking from a dream / mother's
spindle / turns us around / to glimpse other planets / or the first time) //
& crawl on all four again / away from manacled stock brokers / on the once
sacred ground of Wall St. / a red sea of humanity skittering / into heaven's
/ eternal // liquidation."

I don't know about you, but poems like these often leave my mind cross-eyed.
I could only read three or four in one reading, and then had to let my mind
rest before jumping in for more. I asked Magliocco about the complexity of
his work. "What is intuitive and crafted appeals to me so far as writing
poetry goes. I don't feel my writing is "complex," just not as superficial
as much floating around the small press ethers. Perhaps the ideas in my
poems are what strike you as complex. I certainly believe in examining
intellectual & artistic ideas in poetry, whose meanings aren't readily clear
always while writing.and that's one reason for writing them, since the ideas
are also a search for meanings in our lives." He went on to describe his
process, "I don't do a lot of extensive rewriting, but sometimes I take
things from bad or failed old poems and merge them with incomplete newer
work.a poetic transmigration of sorts. The things taken can be whole lines,
a few words, and content totally rewritten in a different form.  William
Burroughs used to cut-up his writing and paste it into a totally different
context, though the results verged on irrational dream associations
sometimes. I try to insert the free-feel of what you refer to as "stream of
consciousness" with more structured and thought-out lines. Our unconscious
mind has to interact successfully on a daily basis with our conscious one:
the two have to be brought into harmony, in art and life."

I had two strong impressions come over me while I read Magliocco's work.
One, he has a signature 'voice' in the small press. It is the unique
collision of academic and street poetry. Two, poetry (as displayed in
Magliocco's writing) is a great laboratory - it is an art form short enough,
with boundaries wide enough to mirror many of the aspects we find in visual
art. I asked him about his influences. "In the small press there is only
Bukowski even though he's been gone and I can't think of two poets better,
though I like Alan Catlin. I like e-zines like UNLIKELY STORIES and THE
ORACULAR TREE. And Jose Saramago is the prose writer I like."

Many of the poems in This Junkyard Heaven are highly visual rather than
narrative. The total creates an impression rather than brings the reader to
a conclusion. He frequently uses metaphors drawn from visual art and
historic events. This made me wonder if Magliocco had been schooled in three
dimensional arts and he said, "My frame of historical references isn't that
shockingly scholarly or erudite! I had some art history courses years ago at
California State University at Northridge, where I picked up a B.A. in
2-dimensional art. I use things obviously from my educational baggage, from
my own study too. The names you mention are chiefly from well-known artists
and poets: Peter Paul Rubens painted his wife Helena, William Blake's tygers
burned bright; Apollinaire was a French poet who died fighting in WWI.  But
yeah, some readers probably will find those references in the range of
limited curiosity only.  "Words and metaphors" are what it's all about, I'd
read something by Nabokov to really have a work-out with the dictionary."

Magliocco is also editor and publisher of the small press magazine ART:MAG
(P.O. Box 70896, Las Vegas, NV 89170) which features many major voices in
the small press. I asked him about ART:MAG, "I started it in 1985 by
hand-lettering short poems with colored pens and pencils -- it was a logical
extension of creative ideas from art school days, I guess. Having discovered
the small press, I wondered if I could merge art forms with literary
content.  Those issues were called "original series" because I included
actual original bits and pieces of my sketchbook drawings in them.not mere
copies. That changed over the years for a number of reasons, since nobody
seemed thrilled by these experiments and the small press mag-sensibility is
hard to change:  many want the poem to take precedence, not the artwork."

The title poem of this collection is a visual wonder, here is the opening
stanza of "This Junkyard Heaven": "(after a non-existent painting of Eva
Hesse) // I have wanted to convert you to beauty / like an elemental force
of nature / you can do little about, but must / learn to live with as a
power / beyond our real reach , for we sketch just / its outline, its
rainbow shimmer / across this junkyard heaven / called life with its cities
/ tenebrous & densely impacted / by flesh, metals, trees, earth ions / for
all condemned lovers to cling to".

As I read Magliocco's collection, I most admired his depth of his mind. His
writing is rich and complex. He shares his soul, his fears and passions in a
unique collection of poetry - as good as any master painter could write.



Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short
stories, interviews and poetry reviews have appeared in over one hundred
print and electronic publications. He has received three Pushcart Prize
nominations for his writing and most recently he read his poetry on National
Public Radio's Theme and Variations, a program that is broadcast over
seventy NPR affiliates.  He is the author of THE FATHERS WE FIND, a novel
based on memory. Ries is also the author of five books of poetry - the most
recent entitled, The Last Time which was just released by The Moon Press in
Tucson, Arizona. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot
and he is on the board of the Woodland Pattern
Bookstore in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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