"If Frank O'Hara had lived to chronicle the post 9/11 decade, he might have written these wonderfully funny, sad, heartbreaking, jaunty, and always delightfully accurate poems by Peter Covino. The Right Place to Jump is unique in its immediacy, the tonal range of its love poems and elegies, its ability to draw the reader into the bitter-sweet daily round of the "missed-numbed decade." Who else would have begun a poem ("Broken Kingdom") with the advice, "Always check expiration dates"? Here is a poet who so readily laughs at himself that we cannot help sharing in the fun—and the pain."
Winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry
"Images of real and symbolic violence ricochet and reflect off each other in this elegant and disturbing collection. The poems chronicle, among other things, a history of childhood abuse and its after effects, but in a larger sense, they also explore through the lens of myth, art, religion, and popular culture, the underlying and often unacknowledged brutality beneath even mundane events."
—from the judges' citation: PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award
"Pathos is the imp of innocence, and in Cut Off the Ears of Winter Peter Covino deploys him over the entire outraged body of modern harms. Here are psalms against the sinister. Here, too, are eclogues of mercy. Everywhere, in every notch and corner, in every kiss, crease and cicatrix, Covino's imp appears and proves these poems true. This is a book of virtues better far than our deserving."
Scholarly writing about Italian American literature and culture has arguably entered its second fully and critically engaged decade of sustained conversation and inquiry—this collection of essays endeavors to highlight the vitality of these inquiries and offer suggestions for continuing research and enjoyment….The cultural conversation appears definitively to have outstripped limited capitalistic notions of import, export, and travel-related romanticizing; and Italian American culture is finally emerging from the shadows, or more aptly, the centuries-long inferiority complex, thrust upon it by Greek, Roman, and Italian Renaissance cultural production especially.
—Peter Covino from the "Introduction"
I do not know who wrote this manuscript. Yet these poems have managed to remain a memorable anonymous encounter, the contest notwithstanding. I think Frank O'Hara would have liked the ease of the voice and the keen sense of place these poems create, whether at a Hallmark Store or at a Writers' Conference where the speaker is trying to pass for straight. The erotic impulse seems quite indifferent to the categories that we assign each other and our selves (gay/straight, madonna/whore). Where but in poems could we find our poet cruising at the Triple Treat Theatre one minute and thumbing through a Sports Illustrated desktop calendar the next? And it's even harder to recall when the last time was that a gay poet made us swoon over a woman or two before waltzing off into the shadows, leaving us to wonder just who it is we thought we were.