My latest collection of poetry is Entering the Mountain, published in 2017. It includes the book’s title poem and several other long poems concerned with love of family, myth-making, and mortality. Among these is my elegy for my father, “Every Wizard,” chosen for a Pablo Neruda Award by Stanley Kunitz, who told me, “You’ve discovered your legend. Now where will it take you?” Entering the Mountain is the result.
Praise for Entering the Mountain:
Peter Fortunato’s [early poetry] owed much to Gary Snyder; his recent work—by far his most adventurous and poignant—evinces the umbilical break: these are poems that brilliantly meld personal history, myth, and the heart’s irrefutable music. In earlier Fortunato poems, one could see the wheels working. The new poems seem to rise from the mouth of revelation: it is as if the loss of his mother and father, finally, has given him the presence to throw off the conventions and the dog-eared. The great poem, “Every Wizard,” like so much in this fine collection, is not only a testimony to history—his father’s complicated immigrant experience—but to how each of us must honor the weight of love. We can celebrate Art, craft, and the intricacies of how a poem makes us feel, but Fortunato, like a seer, reminds us of the mind’s irrepressible provender and the heart’s irreducible calculus.
—Kenneth A. McClane
The first thing we notice about the poetry of Peter Fortunato is the strength of voice as he delves into memories of familyand kinship, and a cultural heritage going back to Italy and even classical Greece. An important theme in Entering the Mountain is performance, performance of music, of magic, escape artistry, the performance of rituals and celebrations of both the living and the dead, acts of homage and affection in our daily lives. Some poems are vivid portraits, others home movies. All carry us deep into the mountain of memory, sometimes painful, always thrilling.
The poems in Peter Fortunato’s Entering the Mountain walk the reader into a world that is full of mystery yet grounded in the poet’s commitment to seeing and recording the natural world and his place in it. We watch as he watches the woodpecker, his words transiting the creature into flame: “And what became of the thundering lizards / who slid their skins who maybe / rose on wings like the phoenix?” The poet shares his life with us, inviting us to “. . . taste that memory / take that cup today.” He moves us back and forth through time, guiding us through his early days and introducing us to the people who inhabited that time with him, inviting us to be part of his magician’s story.
Buy it on Amazon here:
In 2013, I published Late Morning: New and Selected Poems with Cayuga Lake Books. http://cayugalakebooks.com
You can easily order it directly from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Late-Morning-New-Selected-Poems/dp/1600478395/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408139870&sr=1-1&keywords=Late+Morning%3A+New+and+Selected+Poems.
It’s also easy to order through barnesandnoble.com: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/late-morning-peter-fortunato/1114753186?ean=9781600478390
My earlier poetry collections, A Bell or a Hook and Letters to Tiohero are collector’s editions, but both still turn up occasionally on Amazon — search for them if you’re interested. A Bell or a Hook was hand-set and letter press printed, published by the legendary Ithaca House. Letters to Tiohero was published by the Grapevine Press and includes beautiful black and white photographs by Nancy Carrey. Selections from both these books are included in Late Morning.
Here’s a more recent poem from Late Morning:
BUDDHIST THOUGHTS IN DARKNESS
Is it intuition, my way of knowing
the skunk who grubs outside my door?
We’re one, but scram, you’re stinking up the place.
Nagarjuna doesn’t have the last word here,
and I don’t expect amphibians from Sirius
to dish the skinny on What-Has-Never-Been-Born.
The pinwheel galaxy and smart mandala
I’ve been sporting on my jacket
are often praised by charming ladies,
and at dinner parties I can always get my say,
but even if I do have a certain way
with homonyms and cant, and can do
my thing with paint, do the landscapes
with a tang, inking scalene mountains,
pine trees, travelers in indigo, the size
of thumblings near a thunderous waterfall –
the color of my mind is only what
it’s not: the color of my mind.
In July of 2013 I did a lively, wide-ranging radio interview with Bill Jaker of WSKG, the NPR station in Binghamton, NY. Here’s a link to it: http://www.wskg.org/episode/late-morning-new-selected-poems-peter-fortunato
I am a founding editor of Cayuga Lake Books, a literary imprint focusing on writers from the Finger Lakes Region. Click on this link to learn more: cayugalakebooks.com