Celebrate the Life and Work of Paul Violi

Paul Violi

Shortly after Paul Violi’s death (04/02/2011), the Best American Poetry blog posted the moving feature “Remembering Paul Violi.” With the recent release of The Tame Magpie ( published posthumously) and the forthcoming Selected (1970-2007), Coldfront decided it was time to once again honor and celebrate the memory of Paul. Or to put it another way, in Barry Schwabsky’s excellent review of Paul’s posthumous book, he writes, “Paul Violi’s poetry has rarely been taken as seriously as it should be. Probably that’s because he never took the spirit of seriousness as seriously as many people do, especially when it comes to poetry.” Coldfront will attempt to be both serious and not-so-serious in our celebration of our dearly missed friend.

Throughout the month of October, we will publish a wide range of writing in an attempt to capture the spirit of Paul and his writing. Please remember, this is but a small sample of scholars, poets, friends, and former students gathered under a singular umbrella in hopes that we can have a shared space to express our appreciation for all that Paul has meant to us.

Many still struggle with the grief of Paul’s passing and found themselves unable to contribute, but I would like to think that their love, spirit, and scholarship filters through all of the pieces you will encounter here. If you are unfamiliar with his work, I recommend H_NGM_N BKS’ reissue of In Baltic Circles, which includes an introduction by Nate Pritts and an afterword by Matt Hart, as well as Hanging Loose Press who was Paul’s primary publisher. One need not look too hard to see Paul’s influence on poetry— take a quick look at this review of Greg Santos’ second book, Rabbit Punch. There is Paul at his best, looming in the distance with a wry smile. So whether you have been reading Paul Violi for decades, or you are just discovering his work, I implore you to grab one of his books and read his poems out loud. Let your room fill with Paul’s voice. Share him with your friends, with your students, and with your family.

Paul, wherever you may be, this one is for you.

-steven karl

*I would also like to thank David Lehman, Robert Hershon, Bob Holman, and Charles North, whose generosity has been invaluable.

* Please visit http://www.paulvioli.com/.

This first section of our celebration features a video of Paul Violi reading at Pace University followed by a poem David Lehman wrote in Paul’s honor.


Romulus and Remus

Look for Remus in the index of a book

And you are bound to get “See Romulus,”

Which is perfectly logical but makes me wonder

About indexes, or indices, and why I prefer the former

As the plural except in a financial context, and how

An index to a book that may not exist may imply

A whole biography, as my friend Paul Violi

Showed in his poem “Index.” My late friend

Paul Violi, whom I still see in the street

Sometimes, walking along at an unhurried pace

So if I walk fast I will catch up to him at the corner

Before the light turns green.

10 / 5/ 13

— David Lehman


David Lehman is the author of New and Selected Poems (Scribner, 2013). He teaches poetry and literature in the New School Writing Program in New York City.

Steven Karl is an editor at Coldfront Magazine and Sink Review. He is the author of Dork Swagger (Coconut Books) and Sister (forthcoming from Noemi Press, 2016).