Addonizio, Kim (Theresa) 1954-
ADDONIZIO, Kim (Theresa) 1954-
PERSONAL: Born July 31, 1954, in Washington, DC; daughter of Bob and Pauline (Betz) Addie; twice married and divorced; children: Aya Rachel Cash. Education: San Francisco State University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1982; M.A., 1986. Politics: Liberal. Religion: "Ex-Catholic." Hobbies and other interests: Flute and harmonica.
CAREER: Writer and poet, 1986—. Teaches writing privately in Oakland.
MEMBER: Associated Writing Programs, Poetry Society of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation grant, 1989; Bread Loaf scholar, 1990; NEA creative writing fellowships, 1990, 1995; Bread Loaf fellow, 1994; Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, 1994; Commonwealth Club Poetry Medal, 1994; Pushcart Prize, 1998; Chelsea Poetry Award, 1998; finalist for National Book Award, 2000, for Tell Me; James Dickey Prize for Poetry, 2001, John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003.
(With Laurie Duesing and Dorianne Laux) Three West Coast Women, Five Fingers Poetry, 1987.
The Philosopher's Club, foreword by Gerald Stern, BOA Editions (Rochester, NY), 1994.
Jimmy & Rita (verse novel), BOA Editions (Rochester, NY), 1997.
Tell Me, BOA Editions (Rochester, NY), 2000.
What Is This Thing Called Love, Poems, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2004.
Crimes of Passion (fiction), e.g. Press, 1984.
(With Dorianne Laux) The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, Norton (New York, NY), 1997.
In the Box Called Pleasure (fiction), Fiction Collective 2 (Normal, IL), 1999.
(Editor, with Cheryl Dumesnil) Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos, Warner Books, 2002.
Contributor of the chapbook DarkVeil to Sextet One, Pennywhistle Press (Santa Fe, NM), 1996. Contributor to periodicals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Chelsea, Frighten the Horses, Gettysburg Review, Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Threepenny Review. Contributor to anthologies, including Chick-Lit, Microfiction, The Maverick Poets, Night Out, and A New Geography of Poets. Former publisher and coeditor of Five Fingers Review.
ADAPTATIONS: Jimmy & Rita was adapted for performance in New York, NY, and poems have been set as songs by composer Daron Hagen.
WORK IN PROGRESS: My Dreams out in the Street, a novel; The Palace of Illusions, a collection of stories.
SIDELIGHTS: Kim Addonizio is an Oakland-based poet. She received significant recognition in 1994 with The Philosopher's Club, a collection of unflinching poems on subjects ranging from mortality to various aspects of love. Among the more notable poems in this volume is "The Last Poem about the Dead." Daniela Gioseffi, writing in the American Book Review, affirmed that Addonizio "is wise and crafty in her observations and her portrayal of sensual love, filial feeling, death or loss." Gioseffi contended that Addonizio "is most profound when she's philosophizing about the transient quality of life and its central realization of mortality."
In 1997 Addonizio issued Jimmy & Rita, a verse novel about the relationship between a young couple coping with life on the streets of San Francisco as well as with alcohol and heroin abuse. Resorting to crimes, including prostitution, to support themselves, Jimmy and Rita each achieve little security from their life together. Eventually the pair separate, though their prospects scarcely improve as a result. Jimmy & Rita ends in a shelter for the homeless. Dana Gioia, in a review of Jimmy & Rita for the Washington Post Book World, noted that Addonizio "achieves a novelistic detachment rare for poets," and acknowledged her "natural gift for pacing." Gioia went on to hail Jimmy & Rita as "a well-paced, readable book."
In 1997 Addonizio collaborated with Dorianne Laux on The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, a volume that focuses on the craft and process of writing poetry. The book includes writing exercises, suggestions of various themes, and examples of poems by such writers as Jane Kenyon and Jack Gilbert. Evaluating the book for the Antioch Review, Molly Bendall remarked, "The passion toward poetry that these two writers/editors feel is certainly evident."
Bendall found the exercises "useful and intriguing," and rated the book overall as "helpful and earnest." A Library Journal reviewer found The Poet's Companion to be "head and shoulders above" most other textbooks about writing.
Addonizio's collection Tell Me frequently depicts people in doomed relationships. The book, which was nominated for a National Book Award, won praise from a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who noted that "the situations are often compelling, and the performance like language lends them an air of melodrama that may be intentional." Library Journal contributor Barbara Hoffert commented on the effectiveness of Addonizio's "cracked, smoky voice," and Poetry reviewer Leslie Ullman remarked, "The sheer pleasure these poems make of language, both in turns of phrase and in swathes of extended metaphor, animates and makes convincing what could become simply fashionable cynicism and street-smart bravado."
In an interview with Jessica Belle Smith for the online publication San Francisco Arts Magazine, Addonizio remarked that while writing Tell Me, she was very aware of speaking to her readers. She further commented: "I like poems that address the reader ….Poetry isn't necessarily about communication, but that element is important to me. I go back to someone like Whitman who knew I would be here even though he didn't know me. He thought about the people who would be coming after him—and he acknowledged them and spoke to them! And I feel that he is speaking to me, he knew I'd be here someday! I love the concept of speaking to people who aren't even born yet."
Addonizio once told CA: "Writing is an ongoing fascination and challenge, as well as being the only form of spirituality I can consistently practice. I started as a poet and will always return to poetry—both reading and writing it—for that sense of deep discovery and communion I find there. There are only two useful rules I can think of for aspiring writers: learn your craft, and persist. The rest, as Henry James said, is the madness of art."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume 28, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
American Book Review, December-January, 1995-96,p. 28.
Antioch Review, spring, 1998, review of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry, p. 246.
Iowa Review, Winter 2002/2003, Volume 32 Number3.
Library Journal, March 15, 1997, p. 66; October 15, 1997, review of The Poet's Companion, p. 70; April 15, 2001, Barbara Hoffert, review of Tell Me, p. 102.
Ploughshares, spring, 1997, Diann Blakely Shoaf, review of Jimmy & Rita, p. 212.
Poetry, January, 2002, Leslie Ullman, review of Tell Me, p. 234.
Publishers Weekly, December 30, 1996, p. 61; September 25, 2000, review of Tell Me, p. 108.
Washington Post Book World, January 26, 1997, p. 8.
Kim Addonizio's Home Page,http://addonizio.home.mindspring.com/ (July 20, 2003).
PopMatters,http://popmatters.com/ (September 27, 2002), Patrick Schabe, review of In the Box Called Pleasure.
San Francisco Arts Magazine,http://sanfranciscoartsmagazine.com/ (September 27, 2002), Jessica Belle Smith, "The Gritty Genius of Kim Addonizio."*