In Blue Guide, Lee Briccetti is both archeologist and tour guide reassembling shards of personal and historical narratives in poems that are stunning in their lyric wisdom. She moves easily, albeit restlessly, between past and present, from the streets of ancient Rome to post-9/ll lower Manhattan, concluding that “The dead/ always tell us live”. Through this journey, she constructs a new architecture of the soul that ultimately realizes “In this happiness we build each other—”
“Blue Guide, Rome, Gianicolo” from Blue Guide:
The two-person elevator
that smells of pastries makes my lover so close
joy in him is sealed into my childhood.
Days, dogs off the leash bark at fountains’ aerial braids of water.
Nights, streets’ incandescence through a shutter.
Visiting my first country I am always a stranger
but distance is familiar and light.
In this happiness we build each other—
Renaissance painters laying down their blue skies,
inventing a way to see the world.
Blue, earthly. Human love, my true.
“While Lee Briccetti was building and nurturing Poets House in New York City—one of the truly sublime and beloved places for poetry in our world—she was also writing astonishing poems mapping memory and experience with deepest close attention. ‘Bucket I carry—weight & pulse/of a way to think.’ It’s remarkable how necessary and helpful these poems feel. Blue Guide is riveting, wondrously well-crafted, elegant, intelligent, a beacon to travel by. Follow this light.”—Naomi Shihab Nye
“There are so many reasons to praise Lee Briccetti’s Blue Guide! She’s a poet of the city and the country, but of the actual city and country—the phantasmagorias of O’Hara and Whitman couldn’t be further from her measured, tough-minded way of seeing. To read her meditations on Rome and New York, and on rural life in farm country, in which her love of geology and architecture grounds her emotional life in the materiality of the world, is to gain a profound appreciation for what Seamus Heaney once called ‘the primal reach of the physical.’ This reach is particularly important in our current cultural and political climate, in which all that is solid is rapidly melting into the noxious air of violent prejudice and paranoid fantasy. But Briccetti’s devotion to caring for the surfaces of the world by saying what really happened gives her work a wideness of scope that is rare in contemporary poetry. And what is equally impressive is how intelligent and welcoming she is in her poetic means: she never scolds, or preens, or wallows in her own sensibility, or tries to wow you with over-the-top rhetoric. Instead, she patiently deploys a wide-ranging, but always accurate idiom, quietly musical, that aligns her with the work of Thom Gunn, George Oppen, and Lorine Niedecker. Like these poets, she possesses a strength so lavish she can limit it.” —Tom Sleigh
“…She lives the lyric by holding herself in a special ‘place’ and then proves there’s nothing she can’t do with words to make it ours….Briccetti must be an artist as well as writer. The page is beautiful to behold, inspired esthetics giving white space a strength and purpose. She takes leaps and lands safely for she knows timing and the calculus for each line. Briccetti has the gift of verbal energy, and with this she writes herself home.” Read the full review.
“…she opens wide her arms to climb the world visually and sensually….”Read the full review.
“…Briccetti is an accomplished butterfly with a sharp, unforgiving eye, and—fortunate for the world—a forgiving, language-filled heart….” —Scott Hightower
“Briccetti’s Blue Guide is expertly constructed, and its pleasures are subtle. I often return to the table of contents, which—like the map of Rome on the book’s cover—helps me keep my bearings, to better appreciate the book’s architecture and to chart the ‘weight & pulse / of a way to think.’ Briccetti describes Blue Guide as ‘concerned with place and how unreliable our sense of place can be.’ Her gaze shifts from the sky to the ground beneath her feet, aware of the vanished history of New York now obscured by asphalt; alluding to Whitman, Briccetti sees a link between ‘Poetry and erasure—myriad hidden cities under our boot soles.’…”
“Lee Briccetti’s latest poetry book….opens a secret door into the parallel lives of poets—reality and reflection, writing techniques and raw feelings—and into the omnipresent sense of place as one of the anchors of the creative process….There is an orchestrated crispness in the poet’s writing style; words are pared down to a (very expressive) minimum that carries the message through.” Read the full review.