Poetry by Joseph Fasano. Winner of the 2011 Cider Press Review Book Award, selected by Jeanne Marie Beaumont.
Somewhat indescribable, as original things often are, the poems of Joseph Fasano feel hunted, gathered, built like fires, brewed like storms. Elemental and feral, Fugue for Other Hands
is full of disturbing deeds and haunted rituals. At once mythic and specific, these poems are blood-stained, grief-scarred, providing their solace only from their commitment to art’s depths. “Say you were the wild gift,” one poem states; Fasano has such a gift, and therefore with his bare hands and torn heart makes poems worth living in. –Jeanne Marie BeaumontEloquent, haunting, and dangerously attuned to both the beauty and the suffering of almost everything alive, the poems in Joseph Fasano’s exquisite Fugue for Other Hands
suggest the poetry Young Werther might have written if Goethe had transported him into 21st-century American adulthood instead of burying him under a linden tree in fictional Wahlheim. And yet there s no mistaking these poems so distinctive in their conception, and so bold in their execution for anyone else’s. I can think of very few recent books of poetry that manage to create such a vivid, wild, psychologically resonant and quite possibly unforgettable atmosphere as that of Fasano’s perpetual autumn, where a “Teutonic man- / child” has “cuffed himself fast // to a balsam,” where the wind is like “a scribe / in his blindness, pacing the stones of his chamber,” and where October itself stands “hunched like a colt / in a suit of black leaves.” Audacious, moody, surreal but never silly, wise but never pithy or pontificating, Fugue for Other Hands
is like a skull-sized mushroom that appears in the forest after a rainstorm it is a logical product of the forest, and of the storm, and of time itself, but we still gasp when we behold it, and we are humbled to have it entrusted to us. –Timothy Donnelly
I have seen these poems coming for some time, but it is only now, when they are ample within my grasp, dark to my eyes and dolorous to my hearing feast and leave not plenty is the poet’s desperate gospel that I have learned their active nature, how they attend in the reading: it is country-living and country-perishing that is consecrated here, where Joe Fasano traverses each threshold the way a child touches everything, with the hand of his murderer. These hinterland poems are singularly lovely, but it is in their multifold gathering that they score, that they gain their ultimate musical identity, a symphony of release the poet calls it,like Wagner and Mahler, preternaturally rich. –Richard Howard
About the Author
Joseph Fasano was born and raised in New York State’s Hudson River Valley. He earned a BA in philosophy from Harvard University in 2005 and an MFA from Columbia University in 2008. His poem “Mahler in New York” won the 2008 RATTLE Poetry Prize, and he has been a finalist for the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize, the Times Literary Supplement Poetry Competition, the Kinereth Gensler Award from Alice James Books, and the Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. He teaches at Columbia University, among other institutions.