The Professional Weepers
by Justin Vicari
6x9, perfect bound
Printed in a limited edition of 1034 copies
80 pages (ivory, library archival standard)
Justin Vicari is instantly recognizable as one of those scarce and certifiably gifted lunatics of The Real Thing -- from the first line you know you are in the presence of someone who is capable of thinking in poetry. Anyone these days can hammer together a fashionably incomprehensible and workshop-ready piece of writing. Evidently Vicari has been selected for the lonely duty of thinking with his heart, feeling with his mind, and dreaming aloud a true poetry that communicates its deliciously subversive intent instantly to anyone with a sixth grade reading ability. Lots of luck, friend, is all I can say. -- Franz Wright, Pulitzer Prize winner
The Professional Weepers is a warm, funny, tender, and thoroughly entertaining celebration. It is a poignant exploration of the depths of the human condition and our ability to deceive and to be deceived. Illuminating his diverse and multifaceted genius, Vicari writes about believing; first instincts and second thoughts. It is a reminder that the "real" is rich, strange, and extraordinary. "How off-kilter, how off-key." Read this book! -- Geoffrey Gatza
In one of his many strong poems, Justin Vicari imagines his muse as an acrobat. This is an unusual but accurate surmise on the author's part, because one of the qualities of this sheaf -- among a host of other impressive ones -- is its capacity to risk sentimentality ... and right itself, sustaining poignance, shedding all bathos; its capacity to work without the net of convention or mere facility, and to take us to places that make us catch our breath. How, we wonder, can we get from a porch light, for example, to the celestial Great Bear, the Big Dipper? How, for another example, do we get from the dentist's chair to childhood sexual awakening? In poem after masterful poem, Vicari construes his odd and striking connections, finding the tight wire that leads from our quotidian experience over to someplace where we can't help but gasp. -- Sydney Lea
The Professional Weepers
In Balzac's time, the French theaters hired
professional weepers for their tragedies.
To ensure a hit play,
they planted them in the first row.
When the Lady-with-Camellias was dying,
the weepers broke down, to cue the audience
this is sad. But Odile was so good at her job,
she started wailing the instant the curtain rose,
drowning out the program music,
the last-minute cues of the prompters.
During quiet uneventful scenes she wept,
and no one knew what was sad anymore,
what was realism, what was ruse.
Walking home from the theater she kept crying.
Passing the octroi where the Communards shed their blood,
Odile staggered sob-blind into strange men, gendarmes.
I like to think she stopped weeping
when she quit her job,
became a chic Parisian wife
trailing flamboyant souvenirs of theater days.
But who ever leaves any sorrow behind?
If I ran into her on those cobblestone streets,
what could I do to quell her tears?
What lines could I say?
Justin Vicari is a poet, critic and translator. He is the author of Male Bisexuality in Current Cinema: Images of Growth, Rebellion and Survival (McFarland, 2011). His work has received the Third Coast Poetry Prize among other awards. The Professional Weepers is his first full-length collection of poems.