The Spectra

[79 pages]
ISBN 978-0-615-41753-4

cover art by Li Bendet




The Spectra| Fred Muratori

If what you relish about thought is its heft, velocity, its unpredictability, then Fred Muratori's The Spectra will transport you. Visceral particulars—Batman, buzzsaws, wax-lustered cars, beef, and, yes, even Roy Orbison—propel readers beyond finitude in blunt cascades of 15 lines. Enjambments facilitate speed, precariousness, volatility while asking: "What if everything we think, from first synaptic spark to the last, is one thought, continuously digressive?" Parsed out in 13 syllables per line, life besieges readers as Muratori charts the source of the unsayable. Locomotion and elocution bring us to life's brim, to the subliminal spectra therein. One could cite Kant, Leibnitz and Wittgenstein to explain how Muratori twists conventional notions of meaning formation. The poet himself tips his hat to Wallace Stevens and others who fall into consciousness—Dupin, Bronk, Dahlberg, and Zukofsky. The Spectra's thoughts-about-thought clang and balk, surprising us all.


There are no “peeled-grape, fanned-zephyr-in-the-moonlight” idylls in Fred Muratori’s The Spectra, although there is the wit to skin and skewer them. His fifteen-line grids of “opposite / intents, flowing pros and cons” rip and shimmer to the fluctuation of thought, the loco-motion of that sea which is, unfailingly, “in fear of shore.” If meaning is “stubborn as a six-inch leech” and answers “too dumb / to savor our dumbfoundment,” Muratori doesn’t linger over them. Instead he writes, “Today is Sunday. Tomorrow will be Saturday. / Like that, until the days run out,” at once up-ending (and addressing) Marianne Moore’s still pertinent meditation, “What Are Years.” In these poems of complex musical experience Muratori leaves false ease aside, somehow embracing, even as he eludes “the wreckage that was certainty.”

-- Rachel Loden, Hotel Imperium and Dick of the Dead


This book is an examination of thought as a prism of suffering: the thoughts we think, the wishes we have, the people and lives we want, all of which persist in the mind as a continual and “perfected nothing unattainable in any lifetime.” Muratori’s book provides a reparative response to this condition through writing that is compressed, sorrowful, compassionate and brilliant.”

--Gabriel Gudding, A Defense of Poetry and Rhode Island Notebook

photo credit: Susette Newberry

FRED MURATORI'S previously published poetry collections are Despite Repeated Warnings (BASFAL Books, 1994) and a chapbook, The Possible (State Street Press, 1988). His poems and prose poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, New American Writing, LIT, Sentence, Boston Review, Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Matrix, and many other journals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry (Scribners, 1994) and The Best of the Prose Poem (White Pine Press, 2000). A recipient of poetry writing grants from the New York Foundation on the Arts and the Constance H. Saltonstall Foundation, he is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University, and is currently the Bibliographer for English-Language Literature, Theater, and Film at the Cornell University Library.

For more information on Muratori, click HERE.

To hold one thought is possibly the shaman's comprehension of the all and always, or perhaps--

along with apparent inattention and rigor mortis--a symptom of death. But what if everything we think, from first synaptic spark to last, is one thought, continuously digressive?

-- Fred Muratori