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Fierce Elegy

Peter Gizzi
Format: Other
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Published: August 28, 2023
ISBN: 9780819500687
72 pages
Country of publication: United States

£12.50

Peter Gizzi’s powerful new collection reckons with the transformative power of elegy, through poems of lament and love

In March 2021, Peter Gizzi was diagnosed with a very rare blood disease. This book is what followed: composed slowly and painstakingly, though for Gizzi with unprecedented speed; written with an eye as much to his own impending mortality as to a decade of losses of friends and family, yet suffused, beautifully, with music and light.

The book’s broad subject is elegy, which Gizzi calls ‘a mode that can transform a broken heart in a fierce world into a fierce heart in a broken world.’ Here, ferocity is reimagined as vulnerability, bravery and discovery, a braiding of emotional and otherworldly depth. Joy and sorrow make a complex ecosystem. And then, as we read, it is as if we have left our bodies, are looking down on them from above, and find – as Rae Armantrout has put it in an appreciation of this book – that ‘everything is fine, better than fine.’ In their quest for a lyric reality, these poems remind us that elegy is lament, but also – as it has been for centuries – a work of openness, and a work of love.

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