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Cover for The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood)

The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood)

Tony Trigilio


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Poetry. Barnabas Collins, kitsch vampire but source of poet Tony Trigilio's childhood nightmares, rises from his casket in the first sentence of this intrepid fever chart of a poem. Trigilio manages to create a riveting two-fold narrative--personal and TV- screen ekphrastic--out of piecemeal sentences (one per episode) that honor the most unlikely of poetic subjects: a cheaply produced, blooper-ridden, gothic-horror soap opera. This is just the first installment of what promises to be a classic American coffin-shaped (I hope) epic poem.--David Trinidad

Tony Trigilio has taken on an epic task in THE COMPLETE DARK SHADOWS (OF MY CHILDHOOD). Here, in Book 1, Trigilio uses the episodes as touchstones for his earliest memories, including nightmares, brought on by TV's dream factory. Watching Dark Shadows episodes on DVD almost fifty years later, alone or with friends, the speaker confesses, 'each time I rewind, it's something different.' He re-casts his past in terms of gruesome camp, excavation and repression. As I read through this poem I remember my outrage at Dark Shadows being preempted by Watergate coverage, the weird day the show went from black and white to color. But if Trigilio seems to be in the zeitgeist--Dark Shadows remade by Tim Burton, Dark Shadows as referenced in Mad Men--he is also solidly planted in the universal. A boy and his mother, his brother, his father. The spirit and death. Blood--as in relation. Blood as in sex and violence. Couplets (rhyming and not), anaphora, elegies, sonnets, and a ghazal beautifully frame personal and cultural anxiety.--Denise Duhamel

Long before Twilight or True Blood, there was Barnabas Collins haunting the national psyche--a vampire the poet Tony Trigilio met before he met language itself, through watching the Dark Shadows soap as a very young child with his mother. In this tour- de-force of a long poem, Trigilio reveals how our pop culture invades the very core of our imagination with irresistible magical images such as ghost girls, psychic boys, 'sea tramps, ' and 'paranormal flowers' of all varieties. But what he also shows is that while (to paraphrase Wittgenstein) 'our pictures hold us captive, ' we can repossess them and ourselves through our creative acts. Anyone who wants to understand what's behind our cultural obsession with vampires better get this book right away.--Jerome Sala.

Blazevox Books, 9781609641436, 102pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 2014