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Threshold Songs
Peter Gizzi

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2011 • 104 pp. 1 color illus. 6 x 8 1/2"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7347-6
$25.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7174-8

$12.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7175-5

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Gizzi’s fifth collection, is his most profoundly rueful and wildly humoured work to date. This is a wintry ‘un gathering’ of poems, sung in the name of ‘Tradition & The Indivisible Talent’ – a company whose ghosts include Basil Bunting, W.S. Graham and the late R.F. Langley.”—Best Books of 2011, Times Literary Supplement

A series of private and ecstatic meditations on living and dying

About Threshold Songs, the voices in these poems perform at the interior thresholds encountered each day, where we negotiate the unfathomable proximities of knowing and not knowing, the gulf of seeing and feeling, the uncanny relation of grief to joy, and the borderless nature of selfhood and tradition. Both conceptual and haunted, these poems explore the asymmetry of the body’s chemistry and its effects on expression and form. The poems in Threshold Songs tune us to the microtonal music of speaking and being spoken. Check for the online reader’s companion at

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“(Gizzi’s) innovation has been to treat the lyric like a big radio antenna, simultaneously transmitting and receiving eerie broadcasts from the air.” Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker

“Peter Gizzi’s poems have always walked a line between stylized opacity and friendly, if melancholy, accessibility, enacting an argument about whether language is esoteric or generic, personal or public, our salvation from commerce or hopelessly commoditized. This argument is at the heart of much contemporary poetry, but for Gizzi it also represents an interior struggle between the need to disclose emotion with words and the need to hide it behind words. The interplay between these two ideas has never been stronger than in his new collection"Craig Morgan Teicher, Bookforum

“…he differentiates himself…by pushing his poems toward a place where the making of meaning is st ill his foremost desire, especially in this, his fifth, and most personal book.” —Publishers Weekly

“Gizzi’s poems reach persistently for what comes to seem like the ghost of the beauty of the world.”Rae Armantrout, Harriet blog,

Threshold Songs, as the title suggests, pushes against both abstraction and lyric voicing, ensnaring the close listener in an intensifying cascade of dissociative rhythms and discursive constellations. Songs also say, saying also sings. And what at first seems to resist song becomes song. These enthralling, sometime soaring, poems approach, without dwelling in, elegy. They are the soundtrack of a political and cultural moment whose echoic presence Gizzi makes as viscous as the ‘dark blooming surfs of winter ice.’”—Charles Bernstein

From the Book:

If all the world says something
we think then we know something
don’t we? And then the blank screen
or memory again. You crazy.
No, you crazy. It’s like this
but almost always
when time-lapsed words
and weather-swept flowering trees
move in empathetic wind.
I am rooted but alive.
I am flowering and dying.
I am you the wind says, the wind.
—from “Tradition & the Indivisible Talent”

PETER GIZZI is the author of The Outernationale, Some Values of Landscape and Weather, Artificial Heart, and Periplum. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

This project is supported in part by an award from
National Endowment for the Arts

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:06:44 -0500