In this new collection of poems, Symptoms of a Finer Age, Joe Amato takes himself and any reader up to it on a journey through an absolutely shattered world in which everything is up for grabs, but where what is grabbed ends up slipping through the fingers like sand. Following his words takes something like courage, but the reward is something like a map. From "Allegories of writing":
yes--it's all so marginal
we learn to let go
Symptoms is number 5 in the Vietnam Generation, Inc. and Burning Cities Press White Noise poetry series (E-Mail:firstname.lastname@example.org). Amato uses a number of voices and styles, none of which approaches easy reading, although most of it is quite accessible--and original.
From "Allegories of writing":
/writing so might make writing it so: i cross my fingers when i wish, / hoping, having been led to believe that anything is possible, if only / we would stop pretending that anything is possible.
/the function of criticism at the present time is the function of / criticism at the present time: my profound skepticism is rooted in an / unconscious desire to return to the eighteenth century: i like my / oatmeal with plenty of brown sugar.
Flushing Meadow from 1964 to 1965. It was the last time for him and for many of us that the world seemed whole. That, of course, is an exercise in nostalgia and not an accurate representation of the world. The world has never been "whole," though memory sure can give it that appearance. Amato defines it's actual shape, the world's. His vision is hard-won, and he doesn't suggest that simply reading his poems will impart it to the reader.
Amato simply makes it clear that such a vision is possible. That world--this one--may not be finer, but it surely is more real.