Frank Samperi occupies a special place in late modernist poetry – a Catholic Objectivist, as much steeped in Dante as Zukofsky – and possessed of a sweetness and light that is dazzling in its clarity and painful in its simplicity: inasmuch as pain erases itself into light and light is the final erasure and confirmation: a word that speaks everything, once and for all, a wing covering the night in itself, and wholeness begins.
To me, he has always been a bridge figure – quite forgotten, it’s true – someone who links the ardor of modernism’s love of the new with the ancient rhythms of belief, confession, testament, and vision. “All things that are are light,” writes Pound, quoting Duns Scotus.
But this is not a light of dissolution. It is the light of solid objects, seen as if for the first time, drenched in the aura that is the angelic failure of the material, its holy signal flare, anointing the drowned souls and the burning of our bodies as they climb the westward road through collapse and ruin, gathering the grains of the lonely. To be a poet of ruined light is to be completely devotional (pace John Taggart).
Frank Samperi’s daughter, Claudia Samperi-Warren, has recently set up a website devoted to her father’s work. It is well worth a visit: