Faculty Bookshelf: V. Penelope Pelizzon

Books by V. Penelope Pelizzon

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Whose Flesh Is Flame, Whose Bone Is Time: Poems
(Waywiser Press, 2014)

From the coal country of Western Pennsylvania, to Camorra-ridden Naples, to the streets of Damascus before the outbreak of civil war, the lyric poems in this outstanding collection chart the complexities of national and intimate identity. By turns playful, lamenting, sceptical, bawdy, and aggrieved, they find the human fingerprint below history’s erasures, ultimately praising the endurance of the soul “so ample that, if that is all there is, / she makes a feast of thorns.”

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Tabloid, Inc.: Crimes, Newspapers, Narratives. (Ohio State University Press, 2009). With Nancy M. West.

Tabloid, Inc. provides the first extended study of the rich exchange between New York’s tabloid press and other narrative frames, including Hollywood crime film, museum exhibits, and hard-boiled fiction. Armed with hard-to-find early issues of the New York Daily News, the New York Daily Mirror, and the Evening Graphic, V. Penelope Pelizzon and Nancy M. West trace crime stories from the late 1920s through the 1940s across often-contentious borders between different narrative sites.

Rather than dismissing the early tabloids as fodder for “gutter vamps and backyard sheiks,” as one critic called them, the authors treat these papers as distinctive literary venues typified by extreme flexibility in storytelling. The papers’ historically denigrated social status prompts the authors to study what they call “narrative mobility”—the process by which a story, in transiting from one medium, genre, or mode to another, reveals the underlying class boundaries that circumscribe that movement.

Combining narrative theory with cultural, literary, and film studies, Tabloid, Inc. marshals a wealth of little-seen archival material that includes not only the pages of the tabloids themselves but also Hollywood press books, studio correspondence, and fabulous though now-forgotten movies.

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Nostos: Poems
(Ohio University Press, 2000)

Winner of Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. In choosing the winning manuscript for the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, judge Andrew Hudgins remarked: “With immense poetic verve, Pelizzon finds flamboyance in places where it has been forgotten and brings it back to vivid life—and she sees it for what it is. Her vision is then both passionate and dispassionate at the same time, a maturity of perspective that is just one of the many accomplishments of this superb first book.”

In Nostos (the voyage of return) Pelizzon demonstrates again and again a worldly perspective, made clear and complex by her intelligence that is itself a treat to witness at play. Whether set in a Purgatory garden or on the platform of a bombed train station, these poems enthrall with language that is, in the words of one reader, “both the vehicle for vision and the vision itself.”

Nostos is indeed a voyage—of the mind and heart—guided by Pelizzon’s compelling images and rhythms and one that returns us to where we started, but not unchanged.