When I originally bought this book, it was for one reason: its cover. I had not heard of Jon Paul Fiorentino, I didn’t know what the central premise of the book was, and in fact I didn’t even read the back of it. This is a testament to the quality cover design done by the publisher. Fast-forward 18 months, I was perusing my poetry shelf trying to decide what to read and this book popped out at me, again because of the cover design. Because of my complete unfamiliarity with the author, I went into this book blind, not knowing at all what to expect. Indexical Elegies is a mix of sad, esoteric, misanthropic, and refractory poems.
Fiorentino proves himself to be a master of wordplay and phonetic manipulation. This volume has interesting combination of alliteration and mid-line rhyming; the poems are not necessarily metrical but not necessarily completely free from structure. This collection, especially the last sequence “Transprarie”, has a strong sense of despondency and anxiousness; but of course this is to be expected with the word “elegies” in the title. The speaker seems at great unease with the world around him. Manitoba also seems to bear the brunt of his agoraphobic writing.
This collection is a very quick read, almost too quick. With about 65 pages of poems, most of which are no more than 50 words, I finished this book with about 70 minutes of reading. These are not “everyman” poems. I think the occasional or casual reader of poetry would struggle with Indexical Elegies. This book is more suited to someone who has studied poetry, reads it often, and is familiar with the elegiac tradition pioneered by 17th and 18th century poets like Donne and Thomas Gray.