The Invention of Secrecy

David Citino

“David Citino is one of the best and most important poets writing in America.” —Jonathan Holden, Knowing: New and Selected Poems

“I have only praise for this book; the secrecy it ‘invents’ is a magical source of eloquence.” —Carol Muske, An Octave above Thunder: New and Selected Poems

In The Invention of Secrecy, his eleventh collection of poetry, David Citino searches near and far—in his native Ohio, illuminated suddenly by a cosmic messenger; in Italy and Egypt, ancient and new; in Tibet; even in prehistoric and preliterary times—seeking answers to the most human questions: What did we reverence in the past? What are our present obsessions? What does it mean to read one another? Must we always speak in our parents’ voices?

At the Close of the Twentieth Century

These are the days—the heels
of running gunmen clicking

on concrete in parking garages,
monsters who mean business

menacing kids in dark stairwells,
only the shouters and howlers

being heard above the brute din
of days, birds falling from the sky

as if to signify the very end
of things—we envy the trees.

The underlying concern of these poems is the very notion of secrecy, and in his explorations Citino investigates the lives, and credentials, of our saints—both secular and otherworldly. Ramses the Great, the prophet Hosea, the Roman emperor Vespasian, Caravaggio, the Wicked Witch of the West, Padre Pio, Mario Lanza, and Princess Diana are among the larger-than-life personages materializing on these pages. Continually in these poems, the past is read by light of the present and the present from perspectives of the past.

Accessible yet ambitious, and treating all of history as the concern of those living today, these poems seek to measure the span of our lives and the distance that separates one life from another.

David Citino was a professor of English and the Poet Laureate of The Ohio State University. His many books of poetry include The Book of Appassionata: Collected Poems (Ohio State University Press).

Apr 2001
88 pp. 6 x 9

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