The Rigged Universe
poems by Anthony Labriola
The Rigged Universe is a collection of poems by Anthony Labriola that deal with the magical experience of living in our world and the chance encounters with its mystery. In these poems the presence of the magician or the enchanter in the wilds attests to a double vision as we live in nature while sensing the mystery behind it. The commonplace is charged with magic. Wonder takes over when we least expect it to. The extraordinary is in us and around us. But what if we had a chance to learn the trick of experiencing reality and its illusory double? What if we could "rig the universe" and live a life that celebrates the magic and mystery of the world? What if we could find our bliss? Labriola's poems speak of the enchantments of the human journey and the odyssey of experience in a galaxy filled with legends and natural phenomena. The collection, accompanied by the surrealistic art of Teresa Young, offers "cosmic therapy"—a lesson in learning to live with light and happiness.
POETRY / General
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Anthony Labriola’s work has appeared in such publications as The Canadian Forum, PRISM international, Lo Straniero, Vallum: New International Poetics, Stone Voices, Still Point Arts Quarterly and Passion: Poetry. Following the publication of The Rigged Universe, a second poetry collection, Sun Dogs, to be published by Vagabondage Press, will appear in May 2014.
Labriola was born in Italy, but grew up in Canada. He comes from a large family, and many of his siblings are artists. He is married to his childhood sweetheart, Louisa Josephine. They have five grown children—each is an artist in his or her own right.
Labriola’s love of poetry began at a young age when he first read Dylan Thomas’s The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower. The same force drove him to write and write and write with a focus on mystical realities. The theater also held a strange fascination for him, and he acted in, directed, and wrote many plays. After graduating high school in the late 1960s, he studied English and French at the University of Toronto. Bent on teaching literature and the arts, he received a B. Ed. in English and Dramatic Arts from the Faculty of Education, and an M.A. from the Graduate Center for the Study of Drama. He taught English, Drama and Performing Arts for thirty-two years. He was also Curriculum Chair in the Arts and was inspired by the talents of his students.
Labriola now lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and teaches Life Writing at Seneca College.
As bright and firm as birds' wings, these poems carry us both above and through the earth's rigging, its frayed embrace. They often shape-shift into prayers—through them, we see the magician's lyrical sleight of hand in the face of mystical realities, but also the pain and longing behind the illusions; and how we watch in wonder, breathless as children, feet dangling above the rigged universe.
The landscape of The Rigged Universe is a kind of "inscape" with lyrical escape routes. In the rigged eloquence of text and image, the inward and the outward correspond, mystify, and demystify. The poems lift higher and higher to the magical call of iridescent art, philosophy, and faith. Rough magic leaps off the perch of upturned hands offered in prayer. In memory's echo chamber, we hear deep soundings of the rigged universe. Yet in an attempt to rig the universe in our favor, what wouldn't we all give on a magic night like this, when the furies have almost finished with us and grief has turned to gratitude, to let wonder take over?
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