By Jeff Alessandrelli
“This Last Time Will Be the First is on the move and making connections. It looks like a perfect pitch. A perfect pitch is only so with contact, with connection. These poems are for contact and making connections, and refusing connections, wanting connections, and denying connections, loving connections, reinventing connections. Alessandrelli writes, ‘I am squinting into the faint radiance / of the sun, its light / trying to shine’—This Last Time Will Be the First is full of resolutely flickering light. These poems are at work with Emerson’s idea that, ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.’ The mind at work in these poems is not little. It is expansive, it is growing, it is looking to love.”
“Continue on with your impulse to buy this book. You will learn things reading it and feel a little smarter, and that is a special kind of pleasure. Jeff Alessandrelli does a beautiful job using others’ lines and styles as a jumping-off point for his own poems. And though they are homages, they are always totally surprising, and totally his. They are not a game. Alessandrelli is a real human being, unlike the authors of some other poetry books you might be considering right now. Put them down. They do not, underneath their stylistic pyrotechnics, have a beating heart.”
“In Jeff Alessandrelli’s poems, there are people who were, and people who were not. The absurdity—in realms political, social, personal—that laces these poems also graces them, drawn as it is from the twin wellsprings of humor and loneliness. Identity features prominently, but in all the shapeshifting (time passes, consciousness flows, and one can not but leave one’s self behind) there lies a capacious heart.”
“History is over and Jeff Alessandrelli has brought snacks. That’s one way to approach This Last Time Will Be the First, but there’s also this feeling that I’ve woken late and it’s test day. The presentations ensue, on the nature of ‘understanding,’ ‘believing,’ and ‘introducing,’ that are equally ways into and out of their subjects. ‘[A]ll of the music is coming around,’ Alessandrelli writes, and it comes around as a work of citation and fantasia, where ‘you lonely anthologists’ are instructed to ‘close, for once, your eyes.’ In these poems, time is playing a trick on you: it’s a house, or a kind of radio, full of simple things. Whatever it is, it makes for a brilliant read.”
“I played on the soccer team when I was a kid, but all I really did was stand in front of the goal and watch the planes. One time I got yelled at because I lay on my back in the grass. I used to remember things like that and want to apologize for ever doing anything at all. I remember how much more beautiful the planes were, making a tiny white trail of sound in the sky, than everything I hated right there in the field with me. Reading Jeff Alessandrelli’s This Last Time Will Be the First reminded me of that feeling. Jeff, can you hear me? Jeff? These poems are those planes.”
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