Paul Violi

De Amerikaanse dichter Paul Randolph Violi werd geboren op 20 juli 1944 in Brooklyn, New York. Violi was in de periode 1972-1974 redacteur van The Architectural Forum, werkte als freelancer bij Universal Limited Art Editions en als voorzitter van de Associate Council Poetry Committee organiseerde hij van 1974 tot 1983 een reeks lezingen in het Museum of Modern Art. Hij was ook mede-oprichter van de Swollen Magpie Press, die poëziebundels, anthologieën en een tijdschrift genaamd New York Times uitgaf en werkte samen met Dale Devereux Barker aan kunstboeken, zoals “Envoy; Life is Completely Interesting” en “Selected Accidents, Pointless Anecdotes, a collection of non-fiction prose”. Violi kreeg ook twee poëziebeurzen van het National Endowment for the Arts en ontving de John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry, de the American Academy of Arts and Letters Morton Dauwen Zabel Award, en subsidies van The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Poetry, The Fund for Poetry, The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Ingram Merrill Foundation,en de New York Creative Artists Public Service Fund. Hij publiceerde elf poëziebundels, waaronder “Splurge” (1982), “Likewise” (1988), “The Curious Builder” (1993), “Fracas” (1998), en “Overnight” (2007).

Appeal to the Grammarians

We, the naturally hopeful,
Need a simple sign
For the myriad ways we’re capsized.
We who love precise language
Need a finer way to convey
Disappointment and perplexity.
For speechlessness and all its inflections,
For up-ended expectations,
For every time we’re ambushed
By trivial or stupefying irony,
For pure incredulity, we need
The inverted exclamation point.
For the dropped smile, the limp handshake,
For whoever has just unwrapped a dumb gift
Or taken the first sip of a flat beer,
Or felt love or pond ice
Give way underfoot, we deserve it.
We need it for the air pocket, the scratch shot,
The child whose ball doesn’t bounce back,
The flat tire at journey’s outset,
The odyssey that ends up in Weehawken.
But mainly because I need it—here and now
As I sit outside the Caffe Reggio
Staring at my espresso and cannoli
After this middle-aged couple
Came strolling by and he suddenly
Veered and sneezed all over my table
And she said to him, “See, that’s why
I don’t like to eat outside.


Midnight Shift

I listen to the crickets and hear
the machinery at the bottom of the night.

They are all made in Hong Kong
out of interchangeable parts.

They all rise and fall on the same wave,
the creaking, changeless sea
they made out of sound and the night air.

                I don’t surprise myself anymore:
a sense of motion but no advance, no shore
in sight other than sleep; and the usual
lines scribbled on the way, the notes
an alchemist hears adrift in the ordinary
with no symbol for the element of surprise.

 — But then to feel your hand instead, palm up
on the bed like a little boat in the dark,

with everything calm for an instant
before out of nowhere all of you lands
on me with a great laugh, a splash of hair.

Paul Violi (20 juli 1944 – 2 april 2011)