Of All Places In This Place Of All Places


Of All Places In This Place Of All Places. Spuyten Duyvil, 2018.

If I were asked to describe Of All Places In This Place Of All Places, I would say it is an attempt to trouble and re-imagine some of the authoritative assumptions I detect in the work of certain documentary ‘poetics projects.’ Of All Places In This Place Of All Places is thus a lyric poem, or at least partakes of certain tropes and techniques made available by the lyric tradition, but I trust it is more self-conscious and conscientious in its lyrical subjectivities. I am hesitant to say more except to note that the poem is also deeply embedded in the urban landscapes of North Central Texas — specifically, Dallas, heart of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States yet a city still largely lacking in literary presence. My work, both on and off the page, is increasingly concerned with addressing this absence.

“Joe Milazzo has assembled a miraculously turbulent pattern language. Here, we feel the self as sentient weather, positioned to consider the spaces where individual perception, networked systems, and institutional power converge. More phenomenologist than flâneur, the perceiver in these poems insists on re-inhabiting ‘the how / of feeling.’ Each page folds in on itself with intimate acuity.” — Eric Baus

“From the opening salvo of this epic ‘paean to some city imagined further / from the sanctities that detach me / from my dissatisfactions,’ Of All Places In This Place Of All Places enacts its revolt against documentary poetics’ received ideas. This book-length poem inverts how we perceive, replacing photographic pretensions to documentary authority with the resonant complexity of inquiry. Here is a literature untethered from literary cliché — not only the hegemony of subjectivity, but the very notion of the ‘literary’ as poetic material. In its place, Joe Milazzo offers us a precise and evocative ‘daydream of observance along / progress’ rim’ in which ‘the widened welcome for houses never erected / never open to this undivided road / as divisive still as a highway’ richly rewards our attention to an unsung swath of these divided states.” — Susan Lewis

“This is a poem about ‘our town’ with all its violence. Fractured chronicles of the self jostle with the formal contrast of austere lines. Yet the two-dimensional here is not in the ‘projective’ tradition, it is its own completely — fast rays of existence going everywhere. These rays are not benign, they at times feel like dangerous splinters that point at different struggles: personal and collective. This is poetry that keeps it new because it has to. What a treat.” — Maged Zaher