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Tony Trigilio's Historic Diary reviewed in Gently Read Literature

 "The Pictures Were Just for Reference": 
Todd Mccarty on Personal Objectivity in Tony Trigilio's Historic Diary

History Diary
Tony Trigilio
BlazeVox [books], 2010


In Historic Diary, Tony Trigilio examines the tenuous boundaries between myth and fact and how perceptions sometimes have more to do with the formation of history than actual events themselves. In this second full collection of poems,Trigilio exploits the lines that divide the factual and the fictive when considering various people's connections to the Kennedy assassination. Taking its name from Lee Harvey Oswald's personal journal, Historic Diary paints a convoluted portrait of a conflicted individual. Oswald and other characters emerge as living beings instead of just suspects and bystanders in archival photos. Particularly relevant to contemporary readers, Historic Diary deftly addresses complicated questions, but even more so, this book urges readers to consider the ramifications of living in a culture over-saturated with data.

Trigilio draws extensively on research in bringing to life the characters in this work. Instead of a history that is stiff or bookish, Trigilio is able to craft living portraits of Lee Harvey Oswald, Marina Oswald and many others with a wide range of style and formal invention. Trigilio culls from diaries, letters, journals, and other accounts and grafts distinctive language into the poems to distinguish the characters.

In the poem, "I Locked Him in the Bathroom to Stop Him from Seeing Richard Nixon," Marina Oswald, Lee Harvey's wife, is speaking about when Lee tried to go see Richard Nixon, but Marina suspects he intends to shoot Nixon and locks him in the bathroom to prevent a disaster:

I held on hard but it's a cheap door, the knob shook
in my hand like it was stuck in butter. He could've

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Tony Trigilio’s books include the poetry collection The Lama’s English Lessons (Three Candles Press) and the critical monograph Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist Poetics (Southern Illinois University Press).  With Tim Prchal, he co-editedVisions and Divisions: American Immigration Literature, 1870-1930 (Rutgers University Press).  He is a member of the core poetry faculty at Columbia College Chicago, and is a co-founder and co-editor of Court Green.          

Book Information:

· Paperback: 118 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-012-5

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