In Threshold Songs, his fifth and most recent collection, Gizzi is at once elegiac and experimental, building poems and shaping meanings from the rhythms and collisions of words and language even as he mourns a string of personal losses.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, Gizzi — the Visiting Hurst Professor of Poetry at Washington University in St. Louis — will read from his work for The Writing Program in Arts & Sciences’ spring Reading Series.
The talk is free and open to the public and takes place in Hurst Lounge, Room 201, Duncker Hall, at the northwest corner of Brookings Quadrangle. A reception and book signing will immediately follow. For more information, call (314) 935-7130.
Born in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1959, Gizzi earned degrees from New York University, Brown University and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is on faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
In addition to Threshold Songs, Gizzi is author of The Outernationale, Some Values of Landscape and Weather, Artificial Heart and Periplum and other poems 1987-92, as well as several limited-edition chapbooks, folios and artist books.
Craig Morgan Teicher, writing in Bookforum, notes that for Gizzi, poetry “represents an interior struggle between the need to disclose emotion with words and the need to hide it behind words.”
“Gizzi is heir to Emily Dickinson’s occult friendliness, her easy rapport across the ‘threshold’ of the grave,” adds Dan Chiasson in a recent New Yorker review. “Gizzi is 52 and a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, but he has held on to the appealing air of the working-class kid growing up in Pittsfield, doing menial jobs and listening to his older brothers’ records.
“He is a lunch-pail mystic, attuned not only to ‘the fundamental shape of awe’ but to its real-world manifestations in ‘dusty antlers, pilsner flattened.’”