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Segue 9: Fall 2010  ||  Louis Gallo


about the author


Louis Gallo teaches at Radford University in Virginia. He was born and raised in New Orleans. His books include the poetry volumes Omens, The End of Hours, Halloween, The Fascination of Abomination, and The Truth Changes. His novel, Breakneck: A Katrina Fugue, and a poetic memoir of New Orleans, The Lord of Misrule, have been recently published.


about the work


The two poems chosen for this issue of Segue are both autobiographical in the same sense that just about every work of art is autobiographical: the material must pass through the mind of the artist. Indeed, I do not believe in the empirical myth of objectivity. Nothing is objective as long as whatever we conceive and perceive must first filter through our individual brains. What the poet must do is fiddle with the materia prima and try to transform it into what may seem an objective piece in order that others may respond to it. In these two poems, both about my children, the initial inspiration was, call it what you may, paranoia over their welfare. These children came to me late in life and I have always been over-protective to an extreme degree.

In one case the initial inspiration came from seeing an afflicted boy at the school and immediately transferring the possibility to my own daughter; in the other, taking my very, very young child to the pediatrician. Both poems, however, try to say more, but I have no time to get into that here. Both attempt to transcend the specific and move into the more universal realm that every reader can appreciate. The passage from inspiration to execution is, for me, a matter of logistics and verbal pyrotechnics, that is, to lift the ordinary into a realm of, hopefully, beauty and eloquence. And this involves, simply, the right choice of words, metaphors, symbols, images. That’s the execution in a nutshell.

I believe that the poet’s job today is to help re-enchant a world that has become increasingly technological and “objective.” In the past, this problem did not exist and perhaps poetry had other functions, to teach and delight maybe. Teach and delight now involve the re-enchantment I mentioned. When I read poetry I want to reach a realm of magic and incantation and what I would call “holy” revelation. I want the poem to change reality or open up avenues in reality that we have collectively forgotten or have no time for anymore. To me all poems are spiritual and/or religious, for they seek something beyond what we are merely presented from day to day. And that beyond is the spiritual, however you define spiritual. So I hope my poems accomplish this either very simple or excruciatingly difficult feat.


louis gallo on the web





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