Gizzi, Peter 1959-

views updated

GIZZI, Peter 1959-


Born August 7, 1959, in Alma, MI; son of Anthony J. (a chemical engineer) and Caroline (a homemaker; maiden name, Gregoretti) Gizzi; married Elizabeth Willis (a poet), December 4, 1992. Ethnicity: "Italian American." Education: New York University, B.A., 1986; Brown University, M.F.A., 1991; State University of New York at Buffalo, Ph.D., 1997.


Office—University of Massachusetts, 487 Bartlett Hall, Amherst, MA 01003; fax: 413-545-3880. E-mail—[email protected].


Poet, educator, and editor. Brown University, Providence, RI, teaching fellow, 1990-91, visiting assistant professor in department of English, 1993-94;State University of New York at Buffalo, teaching fellow, 1991-93; University of California, Santa Cruz, assistant professor, 1995-99, associate professor in department of literature, 1999-2001; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, associate professor of M.F.A. program in creative writing, 2001—. Naropa Institute, visiting faculty, summer writing program, 1998-99; poet-in-residence at MacDowell Colony, Foundation of French Literature at Royaumont, Bureau sur L'Atlantique, and Centre Internationale de Poesie Marseille. Cofounder, coeditor, and publisher of O-blek: A Journal of Language Arts, 1988-93.


PEN, Academy of American Poets, Modern Language Association.


Brown University, fellowship, 1989-90; Fund for Poetry grant, 1989-93 and 1994-95, for O-blek: A Journal of Language Arts; National Endowment for the Arts grant for Small Press Journals, 1990-91, for O-blek; Vera List Foundation grant, 1991-92; Rex Foundation Grant for poetry, 1993; Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative North American Poetry, 1993, 1994; G. E. Foundation grant, 1993-94; Lavan Younger Poet Award, Academy of American Poets, 1994; Mark Diamond research grant, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1995-96; Howard Foundation fellowship for poetry, 1998-99; Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts grant for poetry, 1999-2000.



Creeley Madrigal, The Materials Press (Providence, RI), 1991.

Music for Films, Paradigm Press (Providence, RI), 1992.

Periplum; or, I the Blaze, Avec Books (Penngrove, CA), 1992.

Hours of the Book, Zasterle Press (Canary Islands, Spain), 1994.

Ledger Domain (chapbook), Timoleon (Providence, RI), 1995.

New Picnic Time (chapbook), Meow Editions (Buffalo, NY), 1995.

Artificial Heart (poetry), Burning Deck (Providence, RI), 1998.

Add This to the House, Equipage (Cambridge, England), 1999.

Chateau If (chapbook), Anne Slacik Editions (Paris, France), 2000.

Revival (chapbook), Phylum Press (New Haven, CT), 2002.

Fin Amor (chapbook), Tougher Disguises (Oakland, CA), 2002.

Some Values of Landscape and Weather (poetry), Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 2003.

Poems have appeared in anthologies such as Best American Poetry 1995, Scribner (New York, NY); Sixty Years of American Poetry, Abrams (New York, NY); Real Things, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN); An Anthology of New (American) Poets, Talisman House (Greenfield, MA); and The Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative North American Poetry, Sun & Moon (Los Angeles, CA). Contributor to journals, magazines, periodicals, and online publications, including Conjunctions, Sulfur, Hambone, No, TriQuarterly, Open City, Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, Paris Review, Poetry Daily, Fence, Jubilat, Rhizome, and Jacket.


(Editor, with Michael Palmer) Exact Change Yearbook 1995 (poetry), Exact Change Publishers (Cambridge, MA), 1994.

(Editor and author of afterword) The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1998.

Works have been translated into Bangla, Dutch, Swedish, French, and Serbo-Croatian.


Peter Gizzi's collections of poetry have drawn strong praise from reviewers and critics. In a review of his 1992 volume Periplum; or, I the Blaze, Denver Quarterly reviewer Alan Gilbert commented that "Periplum's journey is a wandering on the outside. It is a yearning for place, even if the times demand that this must necessarily be on the outside." Gilbert concluded that the book "traces its own outline, revealing, as it goes, the various possibilities of contemporary poetry."

Rod Mengham, writing in Stand, hailed Gizzi's 1998 collection Artificial Heart as "one of the events of the decade." The critic went on to call Gizzi "a stunningly gifted poet whose output ranges from beautifully compressed lyrics on the one hand, to capacious, crowded, weirdly convoluted, quasi-philosophical meditations on the other." The poems "shift between past and present, memory and immediate experience," commented Alan Gilbert in Chicago Review. This movement in time and thought allows the works to "create a multi-layered textuality where the personal and impersonal, subjects and objects, individuals and history, interact in a remarkably resonant way," Gilbert wrote. The poems invoke "an initial sense that a better world has been lost," Gilbert observed. "But in reality, what's depicted is a violent world that has refined, and made more devastating, its destructive capacities."

"The frequently elegiac tones of these poems assures that a sense of emptiness permeates many of the pages of Artificial Heart," Gilbert stated. However, "Gizzi rarely indulges this state. Instead, personal displacement has been made into a shared cultural dislocation," Gilbert wrote. The work "seeks a knowledge accrued from daily experience, from a careful attention to detail," Gilbert commented. Throughout the volume, "There's a sensual intelligence working in these poems in which ideas are generated out of the rich sound of language and its images," Gilbert observed. "Despite their sometimes plaintive quality, these are poems of space and light—and also of things."

The poems in Some Values of Landscape and Weather prompted Bloomsbury Review contributor Ray Gonzalez to dubb Gizzi "one of the most exciting poets writing today." John Palattella in the Los Angeles Times commented that the poems in this 2003 collection "manage to be inventive without being impudent, gorgeous without being gaudy, and so they are free of the occupational hazards of contemporary lyric poetry: presumptuous egotism, grating allusiveness, treacly insouciance." In the work "Gizzi frequently pares down a lyric to elementary images and syntax, in order to better plumb the emotion at its center," Palattella wrote.

Some Values of Landscape and Weather "moves away from spiritual longing and vocabulary mix-and-matching" that characterizes some of Gizzi's previous works, remarked Jordan Davis in the Village Voice, and instead moves "toward a public and personal statement that you don't just overhear, you drop what you're doing to listen." Writing in the Harvard Review, Tim Peterson viewed the collection as "an updated version" of the lyric that "combines depth and urgency with the jaggeness of our contemporary experience," "the beginning of a new, and often beautiful, lyric mode." A Publishers Weekly reviewer found Gizzi "in top form, engaging the resilience and adaptability of the tide's classic lyric tropes, and working toward values for poetry and life."

In addition to his work as a poet, Gizzi has also turned his attention to editing. Exact Change Yearbook 1995, edited by Gizzi and Michael Palmer, contains a "a collection of mostly contemporary poetry which shows some affinity to or advance upon the currents of surrealism and dada," noted Brian Evenson in Review of Contemporary Fiction. The book is arranged into dossiers, or subsections, on individual poets or poetry styles. Chapbooks by poets such as Jack Spicer, Beverly Dahlen, J. H. Prynne, and Susan Howe are included in their entirety. Gizzi includes experimental works from Germany, France, Canada, Russia, and Ireland. A Publishers Weekly critic called the book "audacious, quirky, and handsomely produced," while Marjorie Perloff hailed it as "a milestone in poetry publishing" in her appraisal for Sulphur.

The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer offers lectures on poetry, interviews, and essays by Spicer, a prominent gay poet in San Francisco, California, during the mid-twentieth century. Bernard Welt, writing in Lambda Book Report, described Spicer as "a presence of continuing importance in both American poetry and gay culture." The book offers "superbly concise and enlightening commentary" by Gizzi, Welt remarked, noting that "literary publishing doesn't get any better than this." In the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Jim Dodge wrote that Gizzi "does an exceptionally deft and uniformly excellent job of editing," praising in particular the editor's afterword to the lectures as "the best sustained commentary on Spicer's notoriously provocative poetics." Dodge concluded that, in the book, "Gizzi masterfully elucidates … form and force in Spicer's work."

Gizzi told CA: "At best I am always in the process of narrating my bewilderment in the world, in language, in society. I use my bewilderment to disclose an environment where something like "what is true to me' can take place in a speech act. I guess my work in some way narrates the gaps I read between my reception and what is known And the process is an embodied one. It can be either painful or joyful to other beings and things—even if the action of the poem is successful in creating that very connection to a world. In this way all poetry is a lament."



American Book Review, January-February, 1999, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 4, 10.

Bloomsbury Review, March-April, 2004, Ray Gonzalez, review of Some Values of Landscape and Weather, p. 12.

Boston Book Review, July/August, 1998, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 34-35.

Boston Globe, April 13, 2003, Maureen N. McLane, "Poets of Our Climate," pp. E2-E3.

Chicago Review, summer, 1998, Alan Gilbert, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 197-200.

Denver Quarterly, spring, 1994, Alan Gilbert, review of Periplum; or, I the Blaze, pp. 111-113.

Germ, spring, 1998, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 229-232.

Hambone, fall, 1998, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 207-212.

Harvard Review, spring, 2004, Tim Peterson, review of Some Values of Landscape and Weather, pp. 195-197.

Lambda Book Report, October, 1998, Bernard Welt, review of The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer, pp. 24-25.

Library Journal, January, 1995, pp. 100-101; April 15, 1998, David Kirby, review of The House That Jack Built, p. 80.

Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2004, John Palattella, "A Delicate Balance," review of Some Values of Landscape and Weather, p. R16.

Poetic Briefs, October, 1992, review of Periplum, p. 10.

Poetry Project Newsletter, February-March, 1993, review of Periplum, pp. 19-20; June-July, 1998, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 4-5.

Publishers Weekly, December 12, 1994, review of Exact Change Yearbook 1995, p. 56; July 21, 2003, review of Some Values of Landscape and Weather, p. 189.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, fall, 1995, Brian Evenson, review of Exact Change Yearbook 1995, p. 255.

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, January 3-9, 1999, Jim Dodge, "Literary San Francisco's Other Jack," p. 3, 11.

San Francisco Poetry Flash, July-August, 1993, review of Periplum, p. 28.

Stand, December, 1999, Rod Mengham, "Tradition and the Anthological Talent," pp. 49-52.

Sulfur, fall, 1995, Marjorie Perloff, review of Exact Change Yearbook 1995, pp. 245-248; fall, 1998, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 201-203.

Times Literary Supplement, February 27, 3004, Brian Henry, review of Some Values of Landscape and Weather, p. 30.

To, spring, 1994, review of Periplum, pp. 293-296.

Tripwire, fall, 1998, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 156-158.

UC Santa Cruz Review, winter, 1999, "The Poetics of Peter Gizzi."

Village Voice, January 7-January 13, 2004, Jordan Davis, review of Some Values of Landscape and Weather, p. C75.

Washington Review, April-May, 1993, review of Periplum, pp. 23-24; October-November, 1998, review of Artificial Heart, pp. 28-29.


Brown University Graduate Program in Literary Arts Web site, (November 1, 1993), Samuel Truitt, interview with Gizzi.

Electronic Poetry Centre, (April 2, 2004), "Peter Gizzi."

Subtext Web site, (April 2, 2004), "Peter Gizzi."

University of Georgia Web site, (February 12, 2004), J. Rich, "Award-winning Poets Peter Gizzi and Joshua Beckman to Give Reading at UGA."

University of Massachusetts at Amherst Department of English Web site, (April 2, 2004), "Peter Gizzi."