Alessandro Manzetti always does a great job of evoking a narrative with his poems. He has figured out a great balance of information given and withheld within the swirling images his poems paint that hints at the larger narrative beyond what we are given. I love it. So, when he has a narrative stretched over fifteen poems, you know I’m in.
Such is the case with Dancing with Maria’s Ghost, Manzetti’s newest collection. The tale beneath this flows from ensnarement to infatuation to obsession to the ultimate ends such things must always meet. Especially when the object of the obsession is already dead. It’s a simple narrative, but plays out beautifully and with soul. This is a story of giving yourself over to beauty so fully that it consumes you. Not exactly a happy story, but a damn pretty one.
Poems like “Blue and Pink Feet” and “The Miracle of Skorpios” highlight the brutality and violence of this kind of relationship imbalance. And if you don’t think a poem can be sumptuous and violent at the same time, Alessandro has some words for you. At the same time, poems like “First Seeing” and “Follow Me to the Other Side” do a great job of conveying the seductive quality of being pulled along with something or someone larger than yourself, even if it is toward nothingness.
To round out the value here, there are some extra poems from miscellaneous publications. My favorite among them is “Stop Me From Dreaming,” cowritten with Joe R. Lansdale. I mean, come on. Uncle Joe and poetry. My heart sings.
Yes, this is a short collection, coming in at only around 60 pages of poetry, but the quality of those poems completely makes up for the low quantity. To be honest, 60 is just about the perfect size of a poetry collection for me.