Friday, March 07, 2014

The Rigged Universe

A few months ago, Shanti Arts published The Rigged Universe, a collection of poetry by Anthony Labriola, whose fiction and poetry have appeared several times in our periodicals, Still Point Arts Quarterly and Stone Voices. The book is beautifully illustrated with the work of artist Teresa Young

Labriola recently posted some remarks about his book on his blog. I reproduce them below and encourage you both to purchase a copy of this beautiful collection and to take a look at his blog. Labriola is a remarkable writer and thinker. 

-  More information about The Rigged Universe

-  View sample pages from this beautiful book

-  Purchase this book

From the author's blog:

In Narratology, Mieke Bal contends that “I and he are both I.” So, beware of the first person in The Rigged Universe. It is kith and kin of the Jabberwocky Monster–trickster, shape-shifter, illusionist, magician, and even a poor player. The sonnets as dramatic monologues play with perception and magical thinking. They play with rough magic and enchantment until the real world comes into sharp focus. Yet some of the personae impersonate the poet and relate personal experiences in the rigging of the universe. From self-delusion to clarity, from appearance to reality, the poems attempt to express gratitude for the pain and pleasure of living in the world.  ”All poetry is myth-making: it strives to recreate the myths about the world,” wrote Bruno Schulz. (p. 18 in The Street of Crocodiles and other Stories, translated by Celina Wieniewska) For the Italian poet, Eugenio Montale, the making of poetry is, in the final analysis, the crafting of forms. In the lyric tradition of Dante, Petrarch and others, The Rigged Universe employs the sonnet form in modern variations.  With eloquence or counter-eloquence, in diminished light or iridescence, it is poetry that is rigged.

But watch out for the magician’s tricks and manipulations. The magician is not a mystic. Poetry is not magic, as W.H. Auden says. And Thomas Merton agrees. Still, magic examines perception and belief in these poems.  Allusions to other poets abound: Dante, Shakespeare, Donne, Blake, Hopkins, Thomas, Eliot, Montale, Schultz, Labriola (my son) and O’Neill. Artists, too, appear–Van Gogh and Rothko. The making of Art lets the light in as Theresa Young’s luminous works show. As in the poem, “Breathing Light,” the artist becomes what he sees and then depicts what he becomes. For the purposes of the collection, Art rigs the universe! But so do faith, science, music, silence! The rigging is made of astonishment and wonder!

The Rigged Universe
A rigged universe with a chance to pull

the strings: a demonstration of how it
all works, how it’s all a magic trick,
how deceivers undeceive and magicians

hold up disbelief. Everything is up my sleeve
in real-time links between hand and eye.
The universe doesn’t stand a chance when magic

takes over—Hocus pocus and a book of spells
with tricky thrills, Shamanic voices, eyes
in the palms of each hand, the wisdom of wizards

and witches, Druidic signs of water
and spirit. I want the real voodoo and what’s
behind the curtain, a life-changing offer

in the rigged dark of this night’s magic show. 

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