This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.
Today we're launching All I Have Learned is Where I Have Been, by Joe Fiorito, whose work is described by A.F. Moritz as "wonderfully inventive and skillful in poetic form, while remaining casual, colloquial: the art of the street's voice."
The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.
All I Have Learned Is Where I Have Been is a book of short, hard, sharply urban poems taken from the margins, not for the faint of heart.
Describe your ideal reader.
Anyone who is comfortable having drinks with Hugh Garner, Basho, and Frederick Seidel.
What authors/books is your work in conversation with?
Raymond Souster, Ezra Pound, WWE Ross, the sound of one hand clapping, and that guy over there sleeping on the bench.
What is something interesting you learned about your book/yourself/ your subject during the process of creating and publishing your book?
The human voice never fails to startle me.
Can you explain the title?
I have seen the hard things we do to each other; I can’t explain why, but I can show you where, and let you draw your own conclusions.
An important part of any book launch is the thank you’s. Go ahead, and acknowledge someone whose support has been integral to this project.
I owe debts of gratitude to Souster and Starnino.
What are you reading right now or next?
For It Is A Pleasure And A Surprise to Breathe: New and Selected Poems, by Gary Barwin; The Holy Nothing, by Jessica Hiemstra.
All I Have Learned Is Where I Have Been, Joe Fiorito’s second collection, establishes him as the preeminent chronicler of people in extremis. Drawing on the precison and unsentimentality that have become hallmarks of his poetry, Fiorito creates uncompromising mini-narratives about addiction, failed rehabs, incarceration, demeaning jobs, and homelessness; much of it derived from nearly two decades spent as a newspaper columnist covering daily life on Toronto’s streets. In poem after poem, Fiorito’s exact word choices, cold-eyed details, and crisp internal rhymes mete out moments both beautiful and harrowing: “her little finger curls a bit/she cut a tendon when she slit/ her wrist; she’d clenched/ her fist.” All I Have Learned Is Where I Have Been is a moving exploration of brokeness by one of Canada’s most indispensable writers.
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