Review: A Strange Frenzy

A Strange Frenzy:  17 poems by Dom Gabrielli
(unbound CONTENT, 2012)

This smart, nuanced little chapbook pairs each of its seventeen poems with a quote from Rumi. Printed in an interesting horizontal format, complete with delicate artwork, the airy expanses of white space invite marginalia.

The author’s short introduction asks “From what star in the skies of the Outside do these poems gather their light?” These poems glimmer and burn with a unique light of their own, making no attempt to outshine Rumi’s timeless quotes. In fact, the poems are stripped of punctuation and mostly devoid of capitalization, as if deliberately deferential to the accompanying quotes.

Despite their unassuming arrangement on the page, these poems are refined. And, while love is the unifying theme, this is not a collection of love poems.

“once i courted a diamond / to cut my wrists / in the thunderstorm of battle / and love poured down like rain” (Poem II, page 11)

“i say me / i should eliminate it / i should stretch it out / and flatten every notion of person” (Poem IX, page 25)

“every drink they offer is poison // all the food they have is dangerous // if you do not eat // you shall starve” (Poem XII, page 31)

I’m delighted to add A Strange Frenzy to my poetry shelf, and I’m already looking forward to the moment, perhaps years from now, when I pull it down from the shelf and discover its poems anew.

  • Author Dom Gabrielli and unbound CONTENT publisher Annmarie Lockhart discussed A Strange Frenzy in this blog talk radio episode.
  • Poem II appears on the poemblog at vox poetica.

Review: A House Near Luccoli

A House Near Luccoli: A Novel of Musical Intimacy & Intrigue in 17th Century Genoa by DM Denton (All Things That Matter Press, 2012)

Every facet of this book is wrapped in beautiful language. The plot and setting, characters and pace, all live within layers of poetry:

“…Nonna blamed a tendency to malinconia on her granddaughter’s English side with too much rain in her blood. As if climate could be inherited…” (pg 20)

“She wanted to show ability beyond the ladylike diversion of scribbling thoughts or painting in a journal, obsessing over the responsibility for something greater than nothing better to do.” (pg 35)

“She hoped they would be early or late to avoid scrutiny, but they were on time for her to be judged as an unescorted woman passing through a hall made for giants…” (pg 71)

I know very little about classical music or opera, and even less about 17th century Genoa, so the book unfolded for me as a lovely riddle. Musical terminology and Italian words added ambience, even as I stumbled over their strangeness. Scenes hid behind place names, ambled through unfamiliar streets and landmarks. But the story never failed me. I never felt forced out of the plot or detached from the characters.

The book’s “Intimacy & Intrigue” are subtle, a veiled background of motive. The settings are lush, the characters complex, and the pace measured. It’s an intricate portrait of loneliness, of the fragile passions that inspire music.

  • Find the author’s website here.
  • Find the author’s blog here.

I can’t resist adding a photo. These doves, lit by the setting sun, reminded me of musical notes.