The Many Poem Projects of Geoffrey Gatza

Secrets of My Prison House by Geoffrey Gatza

Secrets of My Prison House by Geoffrey Gatza eBook

Geoffrey Gatza’s poems go straight to the point. From one to another the plane is consistent, the tone both literate and congenial; the feeling, one of an assessment of options while moving through choice to definition, a definition-in-progress of how to be, allowing large time outs for horseplay, an inventory of asides that end up occupying large chunks of mind. The book as ethos – you can live with it -- you wish – why not?

—Bill Berkson

Poetry expects poets to do their duty
, writes Geoffrey Gatza in "Tempus Fidget". GG certainly does his duty by us, poetry readers. In so many ways. His vast publishing energy, so much to be grateful for. And in these pages you will find unmistakable evidence of a perhaps even greater benison: many terrific original works. This is one of the brightest new voices in poetry today. 

Secrets of My Prison House
 is a consistently exciting, nervy collection of mind-moment-heart-truths that will slip inside you and unpredictably grow. A Gatza poem inscribes (as the great cover photo promises) the tears of a clown wandering in the city. Vividly and freely colored by the golden crayon of choices, the poems like a clown's tears may enter your busy day for a while and quickly enough wash away. But not from the whacky inner sanctum of feeling. And only until night falls.

Steel is heavy, steel is art.

I'd rather speak to the cat.

Yes, and yes.

—Tom Clark


Inventions. I want to say that Gatza’s poetic inventions get inside my mind and change it, “stopoped” in this uncomfortable era where elegance is mismatched with a kind of directness that zeros in and rockets. Inventions that make one think twice and look again. “Well strike me up a gum tree.”

—Hoa Nguyen



Bio: Geoffrey Gatza is the editor and Publisher of BlazeVOX [books] and the author of eight books of poetry; Secrets of my Prison House will be out in the Fall of 2010. Kenmore: Poem Unlimited and Not So Fast Robespierre are now available from Menendez Publishing. HouseCat Kung Fu: Strange Poems for Wild Children is also available from Meritage Press. He lives in Buffalo, NY with his girlfriend and two cats.


Book Information:

· Paperback: 100 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-000-2

$16  Buy it Here 


On Secrets of my Prison House by Geoffrey Gatza 

(BlazeVOX, Buffalo, N.Y., 2010)

       Keep off the path, beware the gate,
        watch out for signs that say
              "hidden driveways"

Fear of the public cyberspace may revivify the marketplace of arcades past. But replacing yesteryear’s space with the coded language of group isolation presents new fears, evacuating arcades on the upshot. Needn’t we fear the ethos of reorganized discourse? we feign to ask. In the interest of these conflicts, let’s heed an unspoken axiom from poet-publisher Geoffrey Gatza: There’s nothing to fear but nothing itself. [i.e. “Ex nihlo nihlo fit” (15).]

Now picture a device wiring your virtual Facebook wall through your iPod, on shuffle, and listen. Next, subtract the mechanization of randomness, replacing it with a poetics capable of synthesizing the former invention: That’s what’s “now” in the poetry of Gatza’s Secrets of my Prison House, if the application of temporal vocabulary still bears resistance.
There are no recommendations
I cannot tell you how butter tastes
I could barely stand up; there was a car crash (12)

read the amalgamated semes of this authorial playlist, each a wailing wall of one’s own overheard. Consider further lines from the poem cited above, “Everybody Has An Ashbery Of Their Own”:
Spoken from the heart, the levies broke
The idea runs counter to the team effort (ibid)

noting referential signs of heart-wrought emotion, commercial lyricism, natural disaster, and metaphoric fulfillment, abutting near-commentary in the antiphon of counter-inspirational rhetoric. (But I’ve now said “rhetoric”, and) As the title clues in, non-referential polysemes may employ or deploy meaning against its retail value.
                  It is how history unfolds onto paper 
and how one can display one bit that unfolds layer of relevant history
upon personal interest that makes the curator an artist! (14)

So states a poetics culpable in the collage of signs necessary to imbricate poetry through the densely discursive experience of this now when “[t]he only authentic man in the room is not sure if he is a fraud” and “[t]he elephant on their shoulders just got heavier” (18; 85). Lists, alphabetical conceits, and bulleted sequences encapsulate a lengthy section of word games. And while not all tennis courts make for small talk, consider the coined jingoism of interesting conflicts in
disappflyointment (36)
solicitwitter (39)
fashionlightenment (49)

Totalbeefrecall (62)

The last using degrees of inked emphasis to deliver polyphemal delight—Did I not yet mention delight, seme to pheme?

If Polyphemus bears referencing then “like a guillotine everything falls into place” when we revisit the use of recombinative phemes of communication, and the polyglottal ability to speak the many semes of coherence into the poem, even while
15. Poetry no longer exists
16. Physics cannot prove it anymore (18; 20)

Pheme, after all, is the groomer of fame and rumor, reporting with Virgilian feet grounded in the polis and head among the ether.


Edric Mesmer’s poems have appeared in BlazeVOX,Aufgabe, and currently in the latest issue of Vanitas. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo and the University of Manchester, Edric works as an adjunct teacher, freelance researcher, and part-time shopkeep; also, he collates the recently reinvigorated Yellow [Edenwald] Field, a journal of poetry and visual art, due out in the Fall of 2010.