This much-published, if underappreciated poet, a retired teacher (SUNY/Oswego), and author of some key works in prosody, is the winner of this small press's first annual award, which also includes a translation en face into Italian by language professor, Joseph Alessia. Turco's 28 more or less uniform poems profile an anonymous gallery of phobics who suffer neuroses both ordinary and odd. In his transparent, carefully crafted verse, Turco offers his neat pathologies, from trigger responses to avoidance technique to physical dread, but he never resorts to the shorthand of therapeutic language. More diagnostician than analyst, he clinically details the simple fears of things: poems on aelurophobia (cats), arachnophobia (spiders), and amathophobia (dust). But the majority of his neurotics fear states of mind and abstractions: a man afraid of silence ("Quiescophobia") fills the emptiness with the sound of his quickening pulse; another dreading his jealous inclinations ("Zelophobia") favors "an armless Venus, helpless as/her marble passion"; and a woman avoids sleep for fear of dreaming ("Oneirophobia") about "the naked dance" of "creatures of the night." A number of Turco's pathological case studies disguise their greater worry—a loss of self—with their hatred of mirrors ("Catoptrophobia") or the concept of infinity ("Apeirophobia"). Turco easily transcends the gimmicky premise with a collection that truly resonates in these psychologically troubled times.
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