Whether poems disguised as screenplays, or screenplays disguised as poems, Cinema Vernacular is characteristically elegant and full of surprises. "What's the difference between life and the movies?" Peter Nickowitz early on asks himself. Although his initial answer reads cooly deflective—"My goal...never to know"—Nickowitz, sometimes comically, other times terrifyingly, does know, which is why the family and sexual dramas of this book prove so propulsive, beguiling, and unforgettable.

 

     - Robert Polito

 

Cinema—with its jump cuts, flashes of image, and potent juxtapositions—feels like a natural medium for representing urban life, and Peter Nickowitz makes fine use of this in Cinema Vernacular, writing a screenplay of love and eros in two great cities: Paris with its untarnishable romance and a New York so accurately observed that our speaker even collages accounts of his therapy sessions. Ironic and vulnerable, full of longing but savvily independent, the speaker in Nickowitz's poems is a recognizable, alert, 21st century citizen, sustained and flummoxed by desire.    

 

     - Mark Doty

 

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© 2014 Peter Nickowitz