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K: A 21st Century Canzoniere by I Goldfarb is reviewed in Rain Taxi



KcanzoniereI Goldfarb 
BlazeVox Books ($22)

by Michael Boughn

I Goldfarb’s K: A 21st Century Canzoniereis a marvel, with all the deep roots of that word (“to wonder at, be astonished”) still living there, squirming around. For one thing, there hasn’t been a book like this in quite a while—it contains 590 love poems, many of them classic Petrarchan sonnets dedicated to a student a good fifty years younger than the poet. Modeled on Petrarch’s Canzoniere, which was written almost 700 years ago, Goldfarb’s 21st Century update is an epic spiritual love poem in the age of online dating and televised courting, an age in which the cynicism about love grows exponentially in relation to its commodification and use. It is “a chocolate paradise of two” that leaves us marveling at its extraordinary accomplishment.

Petrarch’s book was unique. Often identified as the “father of Humanism,” Petrarch approached his relation to Laura, the object of his poetry, as a man in love caught between carnal desire and awe at her purity. No divine vision, a la his predecessor Dante, flowed from that. Instead Petrarch gave us the anxiety of mortal love and desire, the human drive/capacity that was first seen as ennobling and defining and has gone on to become a major, if not the major, commodity in late capitalism, the stuff of every pop song ever written as well as the most powerful marketing tool ever invented.

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K: A 21st Century Canzoniere by I Goldfarb Now Available!

 Goldfarb makes Dante's platonic love sensible—his use of the Muse indispensable. If "Muse" is in both "amuse" and "museum," the work passes muster with both. The reader, not necessarily the Muse, ends up falling in love with this poet—with his gentle nature, his genteel old-fashioned wrestling with desire & insistence on feelings having presence & body—without flesh. Goldfarb makes the reader into a poetry-sensitive nymphette.

—Andrei Codrescu, author of So Recently Rent a World: New and Selected Poems

I Goldfarb celebrates an idealization of chaste love in K: A 21st Century Canzoniere, a sonnet storybook set on a contemporary campus where a beautiful student inspires an aging professor to fathom their relationship through devotional lyric. Written at the intersection between metaphysical spirit and psychological soul, K: A 21st Century Canzoniere tenderly lays on the line Goldfarb’s life-changing encounter with a student marvel radiant enough to morph into his Muse and as such to inspire 590 songs. Goldfarb’s model is, of course, The Canzoniere of the Italian poet Petrarch, who in the church of Saint Clare saw and fell in love with the young woman whom he called Laura. From Petrarch comes the lesson that a young woman’s image is the means for the poet to cultivate a transcendent perspective on his life and personality.

—Ken Warren, Author of Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch

K: A 21st Century Canzoniere presents a future for poetry while embracing its historical arrangements. The specificity and attention of the language provides us a collection of contemporary sonnets through a music which is neither clichéd nor portentous. Goldfarb silhouettes his chosen form with precision and sparkle, and accentuates the poetic dynamics through which the sonnet can further display the depths of possibility and imagination. This is a book of rare intensity.

— Geoffrey Gatza, author of APOLLO

The Canzoniere of I Goldfarb is inspired. From the outset, with this title, it stakes its claim to the continuity of the Petrarchan tradition. It is inscribed in the rivalry of poets. The sonnet does not hide this. The held breath at the two modes of appearance of the beloved, her perception in beauty and her "image" in absence, scarcely is it "at an end" at the conclusion of a sonnet or sestina than it catches its breath, takes off again in poetry, both enslaved and free, grateful and inventive, dependent and emancipated, debt-ridden and prodigal, 590 times; an exploit, a resource, a pace both regular and surprising: the surprise is handled in the "conventional" form, the first all the more powerful as the second is more "classical."

I admire in I Goldfarb this copiousness of density, this fecundity of the sonnet form, invented eight centuries ago, and still giving of itself.

— Michel Deguy, prominent French poet

Born in the Bronx in 1940 and educated in the East, I Goldfarb spent most of his long professional career on the West Coast in preparation for a second career as a writer. A number of poems from the Canzoniere have appeared in Kenneth Warren's House Organ, beginning with issue 78 (Spring 2012).

Book Information:

· Paperback: 424 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-139-9



K: A 21st Century Canzoniere by I Goldfarb

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