To Forget Venice is the improbable challenge and the title of Peg Boyers’s newest collection of poems. The site of several unforgettable years of her adolescence, the place she has returned to more frequently than any other, the city of Venice is both adored and reviled by the speakers in this varied and unconventionally polyphonic work. The voices we hear in these poems belong not only to characters like the mother of Tadzio (think Death in Venice), or the companion of Vladimir Ilych Lenin, or the Victorian prophet John Ruskin and his wife, Effie, but also to wall moss, and sand, and—most especially—an authorial speaker who in 1965, at age thirteen, landed in Venice and never quite recovered from the formative experiences that shaped her there. Ranging over several stages of a life that features adolescent heartbreak and betrayal, marriage and children, friendship and loss, the book insistently addresses the author’s desire to get to the bottom of her obsession with a place that has imprinted itself so profoundly on her consciousness. –University of Chicago Press
Peg Boyers was born in San Tomé, Venezuela, but spent her childhood on the move, living in such countries as Libya, Italy, Indonesia, and Cuba. She earned her BA from Skidmore College. Her collections of poetry are Hard Bread (2002) and Honey with Tobacco (2007). Hard Bread contains a series of poems written in the voice of Natalia Ginzburg (1916–1991), an Italian writer, editor, and mother who witnessed World War II. Boyers carefully reconstructed Ginzburg’s experiences by illuminating the historical details of her life. Steven Cramer called the narrative “a great achievement of voice” in Poetry. A lecturer in the English Department at Skidmore College, Boyers is the executive editor of Salmagundi.
Nicholas Delbanco is the Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan and Chair of the Hopwood Committee. He has published twenty-seven books of fiction and non-fiction. His most recent novels are The Count of Concord and Spring and Fall; his most recent works of non-fiction are The Countess of Stanlein Restored and The Lost Suitcase: Reflections on the Literary Life.
Peg Boyers and Nicholas Delbanco