To the street that is a village, Daniel Zomparelli conveys a liveliness and wit that rhetorically towel-flicks its way from the sardonic bathhouse banter of ancient Rome to the cinematic musical machismo of the poets of the San Francisco Renaissance, with each poem “translating” another chapter in his documentary of gay male culture in Vancouver.
To the tune of mononymous deities Beyoncé, Madonna, Barbra and Gaga, this home-brewed Catullus flirts with the very concept of “translation,” not only representing the movement and conversion of event, time and idea to the written word, but also deploying a crafty methodology that in the style of Robin Blaser and Jack Spicer emphasizes an aesthetic sensibility and musicality that pervades the pretty wireless shell of personal relations. These are also letters to the anonymous, the proud, the panicky, the petrified and particularly the lonely, written everywhere—upon ripped bodies and diner napkins, upon bathroom stalls, and in Craigslist personals and Miss Lonelyhearts columns.
Ranging from the rhapsodic to the epigrammatic with his dangerously experimental narrative that snorts the alphabet, Daniel Zomparelli imbues the fast-paced drug and party culture of Davie Village’s young gay males with grand poignancy and pathos. Stitching serial poems into this imaginary patchwork in the fashion of Robert Duncan, with drag queens and porn fantasy figures in tow, Zomparelli brashly faces up to fears of HIV and gay bashing. On this poetic street that is a universe, we turn away from violence, “dance fight, or turn it into a musical / West Side-like.?
With poetic tributes to his Vancouver idols Billeh Nickerson, George Stanley and Michael V. Smith, Zomparelli demonstrates, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, that the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.
About the author
Daniel Zomparelli is editor-in-chief of Poetry Is Dead magazine and recipient of the 2011 Pandora’s Collective Publishers of Magazines Award. The fourth issue of Poetry Is Dead, “Vancouver: Influence,” was a key feature at the Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference in 2011. Zomparelli is also program coordinator for the Megaphone magazine Community Creative Writing Program, which offers free creative writing classes for low-income and homeless people. He writes for and works with several magazines across Vancouver, including Geist, Megaphone, Sad Mag, Granville Online and, formerly, Adbusters. Davie Street Translations is Zomparelli’s first book of poems.
“In the end, Davie Street Translations offers a fascinating glimpse into ‘gay male culture in Vancouver,’ but with its tip of the hat to raucous poetry of various historical periods, &, in its most formally interesting poems, a dash of wit & deeper intents, it reaches for something more, & sometimes finds it.”
— Eclectic Ruckus
“Zomparelli is that youth speaking back to senior (gay?) men on the Skytrain, in a poem that … opens this excellent, exuberant collection. From scoping the restaurants and denizens of the West End, to the bashers who trickle down to Davie Street, Zomparelli’s sharp glances at the changing circumstances of queer life are anything but languorous. … The speed of life on Davie mirrors the speed of the internet, where a missed connection is already a foregone conclusion. … The party, having us all run pell-mell up and down Davie, leaves Zomparelli, leaves us, with understated satisfaction, at the best of excited, hyper poetics travels, here on the Best Coast.”
– Canadian Literature
“Davie Street Translations pulls you in. Zomparelli’s language is muscular, touchingly specific and surprisingly melodic; his images hit you between the eyes. Disarmingly brutal and beautiful, we recognize this hyper urban life driven by our heightened basic instincts, regardless of who we are. This is a book of poetry you won’t put down. You won’t forget.”
— Betsy Warland
“These poems pay respectful albeit cheeky homage to a host of queer writers and queer icons in Vancouver, in the process redefining the possibilities for what it might mean to write young, queer, pop culture–literate, smart and alive on these crowded rain-sodden streets. Here glosas, palindromes, alphabet, palimpsest, concrete graffiti poems, pop music anthems and erasure abut a ragged lyricism, hell bent on obliterating every last stereotype and polymer partition. “[T]here is no closet necessary/because bathroom stalls/suffice just the same//break them down, one/by one.”
— Nikki Reimer