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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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9781644211557

Poems from the acclaimed author of Roy’s World, Wild at Heart, and many other works
 

The first words in Barry Gifford’s new poetry collection say it all—“Here I am wasting time again / writing poems to keep myself company” — doing what he has ever done, surprising his readers in kaleidoscopic prisms of color, turning every breath into a story, and himself into his most colorful character.
 
She stood and walked across the lawn
past the cottage and into the big house.
He stayed to watch the last of the sunset,
waiting for the flash of green.
When it was finally dark and there was
no moon and the fireflies appeared,
he got up and began walking toward the house.
He loved the Italian word for firefly,
lucciola. She was like that, flickering
on and off from moment to moment.
As he approached the house, he could hear
her singing: Vogliatemi bene, un bene 
piccolino. It’s so strange, he thought,
life’s so fast and time’s too slow.
He stopped and watched the fireflies.
 
Or this:
 
In my dream someone asked me if
I remembered Frank Jackson
Hearing this name brought tears
to my eyes though I’ve never
known anyone by that name
 
The mystery in these poems lives just beyond the province of words. In a strange way, Barry Gifford’s poems tell a wordless story, freed of the writer’s art. “It’s dangerous to remember / so much, especially for a writer / The temptation to make sense / of it is always there / where you and I / are no longer.” Daily life, family and friends, are much more important here than books. The beauty and elusiveness of women and music are of utmost importance, far more so than literature. As he attests: “I prefer music to poems, words don’t
live the same way—so, listen.”

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9781644211557

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BARRY GIFFORD’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in thirty languages. His novel Night People was awarded the Premio Brancati, established by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alberto Moravia, in Italy, and he has been the recipient of the Maxwell Perkins Award and Syndicated Fiction Awards from PEN, as well as awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. He has also been awarded the Ingmar Bergman Chair on Cinema and Theater from the National University of Mexico. His books Sailor’s Holiday and The Phantom Father were each named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, and his book Wyoming was named a Novel of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. He has written librettos for operas by the composers Toru Takemitsu, Ichiro Nodaira, and Olga Neuwirth. Gifford’s work has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Punch, Esquire, La Nouvelle Revue Française, El País, La Repubblica, Rolling Stone, Brick, Film Comment, El Universal, Projections, Cosmopolitan, and the New York Times. His film credits include Wild at Heart, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Perdita Durango, Lost Highway, City of Ghosts, Ball Lightning, American Falls, and The Phantom Father. Barry Gifford’s most recent books are Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, The Up-Down, Imagining Paradise: New and Selected Poems, ;Writers, Southern Nights, Black Sun Rising / La Corazonada,and Roy’s World: Stories 1973–2020. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information visit www.BarryGifford.net

Other books by Barry Gifford