Lucia Perillo's poetry embodies a sensibility at once personal and national. Many of her poems are candid and affecting--some document how she negotiates life with multiple sclerosis; others concern her working-class Catholic childhood in a small Hudson River town. But in general, and even in these personal works, her poetry picks up the fragments of American culture--Bart Simpson, crimes of violence, Girl Scouting, teen rebellion, redneck survivalists--and assembles them into a highly readable and illuminating cultural commentary. One poem, "Foley," blends the subjects of movie sound effects and phone sex to make the point that in electronic America things are seldom as they seem--or sound. In "For I Have Taught the Japanese," an ESL instructor confesses, "I was such/an idiot I even tried to apologize more than once/for Nagasaki." In a third, Perillo thumbs through a survivalist magazine to see what it has to offer to her newborn nephew: "They're hawking a T-shirt: I entered the world/fat, mad, and bald, and I plan on leaving that way."
The texture of Lucia Perillo's writing is conversational, poignant, often mordantly funny. The structure of her work is architectural in its grandeur, dramatic in its impact. Taken together, the poems in The Oldest Map with the Name America present the reader with an important new way of looking at the world--a vision that in its coherence provides us with a deep and original understanding of what we're all about, as individuals and as a culture.
Used availability for Lucia Perillo's The Oldest Map With the Name of America
February 1999 : USA Hardback