First Words

First Words was begun in 1995 as an exercise in which Messerli embedded the first word to two of poetry by other poets, but the series gradually transformed into a personal document of despair and potentiality experienced by the poet over the next three years. Messerli's poetry has long been center on wit and wordplay, and these qualities appear in this book as well; but here also is a new kind of lyric line that bears much in common with Romanticism. Through lyrical, semi-narrative poems and a sub-series of what the poet describes as �heavy sonnets� (freely constructed, unrhymed sonnets, each with one extra line) Messerli struggles to make meaning of fire, flood, riot, earthquake, personal setbacks, and aging.

Douglas Messerli, publisher of Green Integer, is the author of eight books of poetry—most recently Bow Dow (in Italian and English) and primeiras palavras (in Portuguese and English)—and works of drama (written under the pseudonym Kier Peters), performance, and fiction (published under the name Joshua Haigh). He has edited numerous anthologies, including the ongoing Project for Innovative Poetry series of international poetry of the 20th and 21st centurie