If Thursday goes well, you can keep the Valentine’s Day love flowing at the Bowery Poetry Club. On Sunday, the venue will host a release party for Brooklynite Drew Pisarra’s collection of love sonnets, Infinity Standing Up. Just be aware that Pisarra, known for bringing haikus to the marquee of Nitehawk Prospect Park, may be suspicious of your newfound love.
“If you’re going to have a doomed relationship,” Pisarra wrote me, “do it with a philosopher like I did. You’ll have a lot more to think about afterwards.”
In Infinity Standing Up (Capturing Fire Press), Pisarra details and relives a recent love affair from the first moments of infatuation through lust, heartbreak, disappointment, and rekindled and burnt-out love.
Though each of his poems follows the traditional Shakespearean (or Petrarchan) sonnet structure, Pisarra’s language is playful, candid and bewildering.
For the delightful exploration of a new lover, Pisarra writes: “I’d like to climb inside your mouth feet first / to tickle toes upon your teeth and tongue.” At the piercing moment of heartbreak, he remembers, “I could feel our sep-/aration in my bones, as if a poi-/son had entered the marrow like chemo-/therapy gone awry.” And when agonizingly, and relatably, wondering what has become of his ex, Pisarra thinks, “I sense the next / guy you fall head over heels for will be / a well-built but headless torso who’ll sext / you night and day about his buns of steel.”
The result is as if “Wes Anderson and Miranda July had a Queer love-child,” per a blurb from Anna Girvan, a creative fellow for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In 40 sonnets with titles like “Sonnet 11PM,” “Sonnet 666,” and “Sonnet Seventeen magazine,” Pisarra traces the body of a failed relationship.
“With all due respect to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…,’ I couldn’t bear the thought of a romance that ended up looking like a list,” Pisarra said of his sonnet titles. “I asked myself: What’s in a number? What can a number mean? What if the number is conceptual or part of a larger equation or loaded with meaning like 13 or 69? How will that affect the way we read the poem?”
Infinity Standing Up is about more than Pisarra’s past romantic love: it showcases his continued love for creating engaging poetic experiences. “Say the word ‘poetry’ and some people roll their eyes, but what are song lyrics but poetry! And who rolls their eyes when asked to name their favorite song?” Pisarra said.
Saint Flashlight, Pisarra’s installation art project with Molly Gross, tapped artists to write haikus for the marquee of Nitehawk Park Slope during its construction. It has also brought poetry to people and cities beyond New York. “When we papered downtown Miami and Charleston with hundreds of LOST POEM flyers, we took an experience that most people loathe (the automated phone tree) and turned [it] into something full of fun surprises,” Pisarra said.
If you’re intrigued, Pisarra will be reading from Infinity Standing Up at the Bowery Poetry Club release party. Also attending will be writers Pamela Booker, Kate Lutzner and Molly Gross; publisher and poet Regie Cabico; and Mare Davis, who wrote the book’s introduction. It could be the perfect place to find or forget your next love.
Feb. 17, 6pm – 7:30pm, at Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery. Admission is $10 and includes a complimentary copy of “Infinity Standing Up.”