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About this poet

Peter Gizzi was born on August 7, 1959, and grew up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He holds degrees from New York University, Brown University, and the State University of New York at Buffalo.

His books of poetry include Archeophonics (Wesleyan University Press, 2016), In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011 (Wesleyan University Press, 2014); The Outernationale (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), and Periplum: Or, I, the Blaze (Avec Books, 1992). He has also published several limited-edition chapbooks, folios, and artist books. His work has been widely anthologized and translated into numerous languages.

About his collection Artificial Heart, the critic Marjorie Perloff writes, “In his visionary quest, his raw emotion, and his New York school spontaneity, Gizzi performs a clinamen that relates him to O’Hara, Ashbery, and, beyond these poets, to Rimbaud and Hart Crane.... a master of the mot juste and of sound structure. Most of the book’s poems... are as memorable as they are moving and spare.”

Gizzi has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, The Foundation of French Literature at Royaumont, Un Bureau Sur L’Atlantique, and the Centre International de Poesie Marseille. His honors include the Lavan Younger Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets and fellowships from the Howard Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

His work as an editor includes o•blék: a journal of language artsThe Exact Change Yearbook, and The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer (Wesleyan University Press, 1998).He has taught at Brown University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is currently on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Selected Bibliography

Archeophonics (Wesleyan University Press, 2016)
In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011 (Wesleyan University Press, 2014)
Threshold Songs (Wesleyan University Press, 2011)
The Outernationale (Wesleyan University Press, 2007)
Periplum and Other Poems (Salt Publishing, 2004)
Some Values of Landscape and Weather (Wesleyan University Press, 2003)
Artificial Heart (Burning Deck, 1998)
Periplum: Or, I, the Blaze (Avec Books, 1992)


I've spent my life 
in a lone mechanical whine, 

this combustion far off.

How fathomless to be 
embedded in glacial ice,

what piece of self hiding there.

I am not sure about meaning 
but understand the wave.

No more Novalis out loud.

No Juan de la Cruz singing 
"I do not die to die."

No solstice, midhaven, midi, nor twilight.

No isn't it amazing, no 
none of that.

To crow, to crown, to cry, to crumble.

The trees the air warms into 
a bright something

a bluish nothing into 

clicks and pops 
bursts and percussive runs.

I come with my asymmetries,
my untutored imagination.


my homespun vision 
sponsored by the winter sky.

Then someone said nether,
someone whirr.

And if I say the words
will you know them?

Is there world?
Are they still calling it that?

From Threshold Songs by Peter Gizzi. Copyright © 2012 by Peter Gizzi. Reprinted with permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

From Threshold Songs by Peter Gizzi. Copyright © 2012 by Peter Gizzi. Reprinted with permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

Peter Gizzi

Peter Gizzi

Peter Gizzi was born in 1959 and grew up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He is the author of several poetry collections, including Archeophonics (Wesleyan University Press, 2016).

by this poet


         If love if then if now if the flowers of if the conditional
if of arrows the condition of if
         if to say light to inhabit light if to speak if to live, so
         if to say it is you if love is if your form is if your waist that
pictures the fluted stem if lavender


A cornerstone. Marble pilings. Curbstones and brick.
I saw rooftops. The sun after a rain shower.
Liz, there are children in clumsy jackets. Cobblestones
         and the sun now in a curbside pool.
I will call in an hour where you are sleeping. I’ve been walking
         for 7 hrs on yr

You stand far from the crowd, adjacent to power.
You consider the edge as well as the frame.
You consider beauty, depth of field, lighting
to understand the field, the crowd.
Late into the day, the atmosphere explodes
and revolution, well, revolution is everything.
You begin to see for the first time