|Poet | Fiction Writer | Teacher | Critic | Editor
Gerry LaFemina believes poetry is the highest art form; believes everyone
should rock out with a guitar at least once--even if they can't play;
believes teaching is a calling; believes the New York City subways are
beautiful (even if they smell badly); believes in love, bigfoot and other
mythic creatures; believes in the power of a good meal, a good night's
sleep, good wine, etc; believes laughter is a type of prayer....
A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, LaFemina holds an MFA in Poetry
from Western Michigan University as well as an MA in Literature with an
emphasis on Twentieth-century Literature from WMU. He has taught at
Nazareth College, Kirtland Community College, West Virginia University,
Wheeling Jesuit University and Sarah Lawrence College. He directs the
Frostburg Center for Creative Writing at Frostburg State University, where
he is an Associate Professor of English.
Some links featuring my work, interviews with me, or other LaFemina tidbits:
Here's a link of an interview with me before my Winter '04 reading at Michigan State University. MSU Interview
Rest Stops (1990), Chapbook, Stop Light Press
23 Below (1994), Poems, Back Porch Press
"In poems of desire, loss, and occasional luck, Gerry LaFemina engages the heiroglyphic landscape of urban
decay where meaning seems to emanate from a 'ritual of singles bars and punk bands,' from the beckoning
illegibility of graffiti and the 'lattice work of cracks on a windshield.' His insistence that even a place
abandoned/ by . . . lovers may seem full of grace' charges these poems with affirmation and makes them
memorable and necessary as we approach the end of our century." -- Michael Waters
"Gerry LaFemina brings us news fromt he cities of the last decade, unforgiving neighborhoods where 'the
civilized world glows/ saffron oneither side of the street' while the sprayed scrawls of graffiti seem 'the dialects/
of the dead, the statements backward masked on old LPs' -- fragments of a language no one can relaly read
anymore. Lonely, icy and restless, these poems traverse the landscapes of urban disaffection with quick
intelligence, formal inventiveness, and almost as much desperation as our times themselves." -- Mark Doty
This book is available free at the Contemporary American Poetry Archive: CAPA
The City of Jazz and Punk (1995), Chapbook, Jump Up USA
"I consider Gerry LaFemina to be the Iggy Pop of Contemporary American poetry." -- Jim Daniels
A Print of Wildflowers (1996), Chapbook, Ridgeway Press
Shattered Hours: Poems 1988-94 (1997), Red Dancefoor Press
"The poem as a psalm or thank you is perhaps out of fashion . . . but LaFemina has written a book whose
gratitudes, even in the midst of our suffering and confusion, rings brightly as a bell. His poems are skillful,
heartfelt, funny, and accurate." -- William Matthews
"LaFemina's work is grounded in this world and full of tenderness and compassion toward all of the awkward
things and people who lurch through life here-- his affection and humor are in every line of these poems." --
Zarathustra in Love (2001), Prose Poems, Mayapple Press
"Taking on everything from Persion prophets to Big foot, Jim Neighbors to UFO's and Berlitz tapes to the George
Forman Grill, Gerry LaFemina elevates the notion of unpredictability in the prose poem. ZARATHUSTRA IN LOVE
is colossal, intense, and full of visceral magic." -- Denise Duhamel Mayapple Press
A Garment Sewn from Night Itself (2003), Chapbook, March
"The poems in A GARMENT SEWN FROM NIGHT ITSELF are possessed of great energy and light. They dance on the
page, the way hipped poetry should. LaFemina is a poet of imense breath and incantatory vision. These poems,
this book, will glow in your hands." -- Virgil Suarez
Buy this book from March Street Press
Graffiti Heart (2003), Anthony Piccione Prize in Poetry
Winner, Mammoth Books
"Gerry La Femina's poems haunt me in the best sort of way--they have a kind of an unsettling lyric
beauty that makes me think about the big emotions (sorrow, joy, humor) and the big subjects (life, love,
death). His is a brave poetic, a canvas filled with both the small details of day-to-day existence and
their larger, more profound implications. I defy any reader to leave Gerry La Femina's work without
being charged and changed by this poet's eye, his heady wit, and his generous way of seeing our world."
-- Allison Joseph
"Although a clear-headed and fairly straight forward narrative drives these poems, strung out easily
over three or four lines at a time so they move gracefully down the page, there is more here than deft
and nifty story telling.
There is ethos and pathos here too of the old kind, when the poet manages a balance between
thinking and feeling that allows these poems to be genuine and modest at the same time. And there is
humor here, and honest chuckling at one's own stupid fate. Most importantly, there is a raw reckoning
of the self in its sometimes most vulnerable states that's at the heart of our best poetry."
-- Bruce Weigl
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The Window Facing Winter (2004), New Issues Press
"In THE WINDOW FACING WINTER, the urgency of the beautiful and sometimes murderous urban
landscape, set alongside the seductive, intricate oasis of the Japanese garden, renders possible a
vision into 'sliver of the absolute.' With unflinching accuracy, LaFemina delivers a sacred, if momentary,
world, laying bare its essential loneliness, its obstinate beauty" --Robin Behn.
"Gerry LaFemina in THE WINDOW FACING WINTER, an intense, intimate and intelligent new collection of
poems, is not afraid to touch and be touched by the extraordinary grit and grind of each new day and
its aftermath. The startling moments of vision in these poems are as radiant, elegant, and precise as
they are hard-edged--charting, as they do, the vast distances of the American landscape and the long
and lonely road home. They are heartening in their tederness and dignity." --Eric Pankey
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The Parakeets of Brooklyn, Winner of the 2003
Bordighera Prize in Poetry, 2005 Bordighera Press.
Translated into Italian by Elisa Biagini
"What draws me to Gerry LaFemina's poems is how much of the world they contain: Brooklyn streets,
race-tracks, Vietnam, a boy's imagined transgressions, family dramas. What is compelling is the tension
between the speaker's urge to understand and the mystery that resists explanation...listen to how these
poems search as they attempt to tease out meaning. Or maybe...or maybe is what I hear pulsing under
the lines." --Donna Masini
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Wish List: Stories, (2009), Marick Press
"There are 1001 reasons to read Gerry LaFemina's masterful stories about addicts, jacked-up families, ad
hoc dance clubs, barely sane vinyl record collectors, angry nerds, gamblers, and love both stunted and
verdant. You'll encounter unforgettable characters drawn with just the right shadow, just the right light;
you'll love the descriptive passages that only an adept poetic sensibility could write; you'll be
conveyed smoothly by the El Dorado narrative pace. But amid all the technical virtuosity, there is the
boy-in-black punch of the bass, the fevered slam-dance of drums, the burn of a Fender Stratocaster.
This is Punk in short story form, and it ought to serve as a corrective for the misinformed as to what Punk
is and what it just never can be. These stories are no mere Pop tunes that harass the memory like salad
bar gnats. This is the bona fide stuff, real Punk, unchained, full-throated, and smoking. --Reginald
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Vanishing Horizon, (2011), Anhinga Press
VANISHING HORIZON is full of gritty and graceful intelligence. Consistently and sumptuously detailed,
these poems amount to a kind of landscape of the soul, that aspect of self that runs the gauntlet—
weathers, wearies, kneels—then grins and keeps on. It's hard to make a way in this world, to see clearly
without coming to deep despair. This book is good light"—Tim Seibles.
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Steampunk, (2012), Smalls Books
Named for the water towers that bloom on the rooftops of Manhattan, Gerry LaFemina's Steam Punk is
a missal for the celebrants of that city. With their punk hymns and their angels of the profane, these
poems remind us "that it's all about belief in the end," even if what we put our faith in remains, like
Manhattan itself, in a constant state of flux.