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No one sounds like W.S. Di Piero. Explosive language, rough sensuousness, unflinching eye—here is a poet who will not look away, and who is always committed to poetry’s first purpose: to bring song. TOMBO is a book of lyrics fueled in equal parts by realism and big-fish storytelling, a book of wanderers, foghorns, summer rain, feral cats, and city jazz. Built on heartbreak particulars, these poems are raw, mysterious dilations of the moments of existence:
Life, as you say, my friend,
is lived in its transitions.
There’s a yonder
that abides right here.
It lives in the electric air
of field or room,
unseen but palpable
as snow or blowing dust.
—from “The Running Dog”
A McSweeney’s books Q&A with W.S. Di Piero.
Praise for TOMBO:
“Di Piero’s poems have become more personal just as they have risen from the ground into the empyrean. These ‘little astonishments’ take on a body just as the ink hits the paper. Almost by themselves. A superb poet.” —Gerald Stern
“W.S. Di Piero writes so beautifully, so evocatively that I lose hours happily in his work. These poems will wash you out to sea and you won’t even notice until you lie back on your raft and take a long, hard look at the sun.”
—Stephen Elliott, author of Happy Baby
“These startlingly fresh poems concern themselves with the world-in-motion, life ‘lived in its transitions,’ where even in the stillness of night the imagination ‘rushes toward the world.’ Di Piero’s poems relish the exactly rendered specifics of San Francisco, but—like Cavafy’s Alexandria—his city is the locus of memory and meaning and desire. He occupies it so fully, in this indelible book, as to become one of its permanent citizens.”
“These rich, luscious, sinuous poems may be the best Di Piero has ever written. Reading them is like being returned to a neighborhood you once walked through, or dreamed about, or lived in, or saw in a movie—most likely years ago, most likely a place you believed you had lost forever—and being granted (by who knows what merciful or mischievous demigod?) the ability to view them more vividly and movingly than you ever could before, through a sensibility far more acute and attuned than what human beings are used to. If your heart doesn’t break before you are halfway through—and if you don’t love the way it breaks and look forward to its being broken again (and it will be)—I will eat my copy. Though of course I’ll have to run out right away and buy another one, because living without this book is no longer part of my plans.”
“W. S. Di Piero gives off cascades of words that run like a warm engine, with all parts working together. There might be a mysterious noise or two along the way but don’t worry, you’ll be back on the road.”
“This is a poetry of witness and invention, to be sure. Syntactic loops, music, nature, talkiness and wisdom or what passes for wisdom appear in almost every poem, making the collection rich with both music and delight.”
–The San Francisco Chronicle
—Poets at Work