The Last Map by Art Zilleruelo
Art Zilleruelo’s The Last Map explores language’s role as the mediator between humanity and nature. Combining a deep reverence for the power of language with profound anxieties about language’s tendency to contaminate that which it represents, these poems reside between the impulse to succumb to the seductive qualities of words and the drive to penetrate through words into the unmediated world. Narrative modes ranging from history to mythology, from folklore to family legends, and from cosmology to apocalyptic eschatology are simultaneously exploited for their aesthetic potency and subjected to skeptical internal critique.
Each poem engages ongoing human efforts to manage and articulate encounters with the radical otherness and uncanny familiarity of the natural world. The interpenetration of humanity and nature is revealed as both exhilarating and terrifying, and, as the cumulative effects of these encounters proliferate, the contact between these two worlds becomes increasingly fraught with complications for both. As the personae that populate these poems struggle with nature within and nature without, they come to question conventional ways of understanding themselves, their relationships, and their values. They consequently begin to perceive a new world ripe with strange possibilities, a world that all of their maps, both literal and figurative, seem ill-equipped to describe.
Zilleruelo's poems display a deep commitment to pursuing poetry’s aesthetic dimensions. His disciplined, musical free verse reminds readers that poems are more than mere ideas meant to be interpreted--they are also aesthetic artifacts intended to be experienced.
Publication Date: May 20, 2017
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