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Posted by : cj on Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 01:32 PM
Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .
The Other Side Of Thunder
by Donna Pucciani
Flarestack Publishing, UK
Reviewed by C. J. Laity

You might have read some of Donna Pucciani's poetry in such fine journals as Spoon River, After Hours or Mid-America Poetry Review, or at, where she was one of the winners of the 2006 Frieda Stein Fenster Memorial Awards. Now you can get a wider sampling of Pucciani's work, with this fine chapbook from this talented Chicago-area artist.

The Other Side Of Thunder is a celebration of nature, as interpreted by the senses. Pucciani creates clear images, not through physical description, but through abstract perceptions, as in this description of pear blossoms:

One would expect olfactory ecstasy
ashudder in each creamy bloom.
Instead, a noseful of sea,
the way the house smells after poached salmon,

(from "White Lies")

Donna Pucciani has a flare for using her imagination to get close to otherwise unreachable places:

Come here. Come up to the bars.
Moisten the glass with your black nostrils.
I'd like to shake hands in a gesture of civility,
perhaps share an apple,

offer a waxed juice carton to chew on,
rub noses with you, my eyeglasses
misting in your rank jungle-breath,

(from "Zoo Gorilla")

Pucciani also has a remarkable sense of the size of things in comparison to each other, and a shrewd way of using this ability to create layered imagery. By mentioning what's behind the point of her microscopic examination, Pucianni delivers a fleshed out sense of place:

shrinking its caked membranes inward,
the mere ghost of its juicy bean-body,

once tortured by schoolboys with sticks,
now whispered into heaven on snails' wings,

(from "Slug in Lancashire")


The lurid mask of lightning
makes the owl blink, the grass glisten,

the cat scurry, and the deer in the woods
pause at the edge of a pebbled pond,

(from "The Beginning of Rain")

or this profoundly striking vision:

the villages pause, rapture-stricken
as they become a holy apparition
wrapped in the cosmic blue of all-night dawn.

(from "Summer Light")

It is fitting that this collection begins with an autumn poem, because throughout the book Pucciani tantalizes us with her utilization of imagery through color until we succumb to a beautiful, kaleidoscopic poetic orgasm, like being stunned by the psychedelic beauty of a forest of multi-colored foliage.

But midnight's minions blaze opal, unravel
creamy silk from angels' wings, rustle
white-spun shawls above rooftops . . .

(from "Midnight Sun, Copenhagen")

The action in this poetry often comes from the most remarkable and unexpected sources. Notice how Pucciani even uses a color as a verb in the following:

these deep-hued summer evenings
purpled us inside for bath and bed,

(from "Stealing the Light")

Rarely are Pucciani's metaphors and similes inanimate. On the contrary, they too are often the source of movement and action in her poetry:

The horizon is a stone elephant
humping the world like an old sadness,

(from "Horizons")


when yellow sun slices silver
and a breeze blows sudden as a barroom brawl,

(from "One Kind Of Rain")

The overall metaphors are as changing as nature itself. For example, in this book, the sea not only represents art but death as well.

If I had been a school of fish
painting underwater rainbows,
I'd have ribboned you in taffeta and starfish
as we swam among each other's tangled limbs,
fastening ourselves forever to tunnels of rock.

(from "At Sea")

Even though this book is lush with splendor, there is something haunting and ghostly between the lines. We get the sense that there is a great energy, coming from some deep-rooted emotion, inspiring this work. The poems alluding to the death of Pucciani's father offer some clues into the origin of this energy.

Donna Pucciani's The Other Side Of Thunder demonstrates the power of the chapbook. It's forty-eight pages are brimming with beauty and haunted by mystery. It is a feast for the mind's eye, an enjoyment to read, and a must have addition to your contemporary poetry collection.

--CJ Laity

For information about this title:

Flarestack Publishing
8 Abbot's Way

or contact the publisher at

Back to the other Nine Lives.

**We hope you found the information on this page useful. needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help:
Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by Press.

Note: Here is a review of Donna Pucciani's book, The Other Side Of Thunder.

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