Voyeur: Selected and New Poems, 1972-1991


94 pages
ISBN 0-920717-14-4
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Bob Lincoln

Bob Lincoln is Director of Acquisitions at the University of Manitoba


Marco Fraticelli has assembled a number of poems from earlier books and
given them the title Voyeur. The poems from 1991 in the sections
“After the Wake” and “Voyeur” are written as an extended haiku
sequence, but slowly develop into a more traditional free-verse style.
Fraticelli appears to be most comfortable writing haiku, and the
magazine he edits, The Alchemist, shows this influence.

The sensibility expressed in these poems is one of regret and cynicism;
the situations are almost always disappointing. It is as though the poet
views life at one distance removed, with the changing seasons as
companion. Because of the limitations of haiku style, he must work with
a limited palette of images to express emotions or thoughts. There are
usually one or two lines given over to the setting or event, with a
concluding line that expresses the poet’s inner emotions indirectly,
either by offhand comment or by the use of dissimilar imagery. The
contrast and dynamic between the opening and closing lines determines
the success or failure of each poem. Tone and diction are critical; the
wrong image or word can make a poem collapse into banality or frivolity,
as in “rainy vacant lot / a billboard continues to peel; / tired
poet”; “at the muffler shop — / coffee / in a styrofoam cup”;
and “her dying grandmother — / my stomach / grumbles.”

The poems in the last section are written about persons who are unable
to connect with the object of their desire: a burglar, a pet-store
caretaker, a piano teacher, a priest, a prisoner. It’s not their
occupation that isolates them, but rather their way of participating in
love at a distance. Even so, the conceit is strained and the poems are
slow to warm up. Fraticelli ends his book with a telling epilogue. The
poet is dreaming in a field in autumn. Bits of paper and photographs
fall like snow. They dissolve in his hand. But as he tastes them with
his tongue, they are not bitter as he expected. But does the reader
believe him? I don’t think so.


Fraticelli, Marco., “Voyeur: Selected and New Poems, 1972-1991,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/12997.