Dirty Words offers a selection of Carmine Starnino’s best poems, drawing from his five published collections: The New World (1997), Credo (2000), With English Subtitles (2004), This Way Out (2009), and Leviathan (2016). Arranged chronologically, Dirty Words follows the development of Starnino’s formal and thematic preoccupations over two decades, revealing how his affinity for rhythm and sound, his muscular ratcheting of language, and his facility for keen observation and evocative description deepen with each new offering. While his poems and their subjects—such as relationships, family, Italian-isms, uprootedness, and masculinity—are nested in the familiar context of contemporary culture, Starnino’s particular artfulness with language and form result in moments of beauty and insight where the personal takes on transcendence. Yet always, his poems are rooted in elemental human experiences: as he writes in “The True Story of my Father,” I would like this, finally, to be a story of love.
Black Rose Books