Review of Robert E. Wood's Gorizia Notebook

For poetry lovers who dream of going to Italy (who doesn’t?), I suggest the chapbook Gorizia Notebook (Finishing Line Press, 2009), by Robert E. Wood. Most of the poems in the collection are brief, and although they don’t follow the strict form of an Italian sonnet, they read like finely-crafted “little songs,” the original meaning of the word sonetto in Italian.

Even though the poems are well honed, the title and the brevity of the pieces suggest a motif of quick sketches of Italian life seen through the eyes of an unobtrusive speaker, presumably an outsider. While reading the poems, I had the impression of a painter working plein air, capturing scenes in quick brush strokes.

The poems contain references to Italian street names, monuments, plazas, cities, films, music, and history, which illustrate the speaker’s intimate knowledge of the environment, in spite his outsider status. Some of the titles are written in Italian, and some of the dialogue too, implying his desire to become one with his surroundings.

There are few discursive lines–the persona allows the sights and sounds of Italy, and his relation to them, speak for themselves. When the speaker reveals his point of view, he does so with self-effacing wit.

Robert E. Wood is a professor of literature and film studies–his poems display the depth of his readings, his appreciation of art, and his travels. By reading Wood’s collection, I envisioned modern Italian life amid Roman ruins, fountains, and Mediterranean light, a society that to this day lives with the aftermath of WWII.

Gorizia Notebook is a delightful collection of understated emotion and witty observations.

If you would like to read sample poems from Robert E. Wood, you can find several pieces in the first three issues of ouroboros review. Bob and I are from the same town, but first met online when he and a few other Georgia Tech poets shared some of their work with ouroboros. I later had the opportunity to meet him at various poetry gatherings around the city, including the Decatur Book Festival, where I heard him read. He tells great background stories to go along with his poems!

Walt Whitman and Burst!

On Saturday evening my husband and I went to a Vietnamese restaurant in Midtown, drank a few beers and ate crispy tofu (that was me, he had calamari), and then went on to a reading of Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. I’m so grateful my husband came along with me, because he rarely attends poetry-related events. He had a good time, in spite of missing the basketball playoffs.

Poet and novelist Collin Kelley, the third reader of the evening, timed us – it took two hours and 45 minutes to read the entire 52 sections. And honestly, I didn’t notice time passing at all. It was breathtaking to listen to all the different interpretations of Whitman’s words. We were a wide sweep of humanity, reflecting the broad scope of the poem. Some of the readers were professional actors or spoken-word performers, such as Alice Lovelace and Theresa Davis. Professor and poet Karen Head was there, poet and artist Cleo Creech, Amy Pence, Tania Rochelle, and many others. It was quite an honor and a true pleasure to be included.

Poet Rupert Fike was the organizer and host of the reading, a charming prince of a man. He wore a black beret and a black shirt trimmed with a rust-colored Native American pattern, looking very much the poet that he is. The walls were lined with the stunning black and white photos now featured at Composition Gallery. I’m going to return to the gallery another time when the room isn’t so full to get a better look at the works.


I’m standing in front, wearing cerise slacks. Karen Head is next to me, in a robin’s egg blue blouse. Cleo Creech is kneeling next to Alice Lovelace, who is wearing a green dress, Amy Pence is to Cleo’s left, and Collin is wearing a black T-shirt, standing behind Cleo. Rupert Fike is in the very back, his face hidden. You can just spot the tip of his beret. Robert Wood, whose poems have been in the first two issue of ouroboros and are forthcoming in the third, is in the back too. He has white hair and a white beard, looking like Whitman himself.


I just received word that three of my poems are now online at Burst! Here’s a direct link to the poems, which are titled Degrees of Separation, Dr. Marano’s Therapy, and Sacred Fig Rites. Thanks to editor Lisa Nickerson for publishing my work.

Here’s a list of the other poets who are included in this issue, issue 5:

David Garrett-Arnold, John Gray, BC Jewett, Michael Brownstein, Stuart Payne ,Joseph Trombatore, Rob Gannon, Jeremi Handrinos, David Robertson, Catherine Zickgraf, RC Miller.