Reviewed by
Peter J. Laska

REVIEWSPeter J. Laska
Preamble To Divinity
Kenneth Warren
The Magi Image
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by Vincent Ferrini, 1996

997 Seminole Trail #331, Charlottsville, VA 22901
3300 PRESS
3300 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

The Foundling Whore has neither mother nor father. Is

without family. Is alone (as each is alone) and sells herself

(as each must) in order to sit at the table.

PREAMBLE TO DIVINITY is covered by this single, striking

image. It is a poetic character of mythic proportions and there-fore

a reflection of the collective psyche in its inmost self.

The poet who imaginatively distills such an image is a poetic

metaphysician [Vico: NEW SCIENCE, 374-84], or, in less formidable

phrasing, a philosophical poet.

Seen in this light the sequence of five poetic meditations carrying the title PREAMBLE TO

DIVINITY constitutes a philosophical

poem in the classical sense of wisdom literature. It is

a philosophical poem that discloses the essential link between

poetry and politics. One would like to say the "identity" of

poetry and politics, but that remains a utopian ideal for

most people, for the great majority who labor in the global system

of values that sustains the exclusionary utopias of the few.

The counter- idea of utopia for humanity is scornfully rejected

by elite ideologies with a monopoly on what is possible.

Ferrini rejects this rejection and posits a universal utopia

that is


                            birthright poem

The first two units of PREAMBLE TO DIVINITY appear in the

linear form of a promulgation: "Ex Cathedra," from the Chair

of Poetry, so to speak. Refusing to divorce the word from the

act, Ferrini opens with the statement of a revolutionary poetics

to end the exclusionary power of elites.

                            The poem aint words alone...

                            The Poem can't stop on the page

Cast in a Comic Frame which overthrows itself ("The MIND

slinks away from enervating repetitions/.../do you think the

children are blind to the Bullshit), the sequence moves through

a one page transition, "Quest," to

soup of

in the last two segments "Cell Talk" and "Index."

These segments are composed in the traditional form of

ancient wisdom literature which consists of gnomic maxims

that provoke reflection and ruminations.

"Cell.. Talk XIII" is an example: "Politics/is/Bad/


The saying has oracular power. It pushes thought toward

transcendence. Politics is bad poetry because the two are

divorced. The original marriage kaput. Poetry is like a wife

that got dumped after she put her husband through law school.

The husband got into the hierarchy, learned its secrets, and

practices the politics of deceit ("Bad Poetry").

What is the wife to do? Come out of the closet, the maxim says.

Not to write more poetry only - "The Poem aint words alone."

Words on the page is still closet work. Poetry out of the closet

makes life different, and that's the point. Hierarchies

collapse. Secrets are worthless. Only poetry remains of

value. It replaces thoughts about refrigerators, cars, and the

latest designs from New York. It must even replace

Christmas, as we now know it. Naturally, this appears as madness

to the Platonic Guardians of the Hierarchy and its Laws. For

them the political is a defense (and sometimes an offense) of

the privileges on which their corrupt exclusionary utopias are


Contrary to what the title suggests in a still nominally

Christian culture, PREAMBLE TO DIVINITY has nothing to do with

other-worldly religion. Mystifying the divine is an ancient

tactic of elitist ideologies. Ferrini's use of "divinity"

is more congruent with that of Epicurus, the principal opponent

in Ancient Greek philosophy of Plato's elitist mystifications.

Epicurus used the "blessedness of friendship" together with

the joyful freedom and spontaneity of an untroubled mind as

exemplars of divinity in human cognition. In both poet and

philosopher there is a return to the infant for truths of

nature: "The unceasing Thythm of Delighting" (Ferrini), the

stop and go signals of pain and pleasure (Epicurus). Divinity

in this sense lies within the human embrace and the senses

possessed by every individual comprise the road of access to it.

In drawing philosophy and poetry together Ferrini has

helped bring to consciousness the utopian possibility that

our hypercommercial society is constantly alienating us from.

At the same time he exposes us to the truth about poetry, that

its greater meaning occurs in living, in becoming the vital

creative force in both our personal and social life. For this

he deserves to be read and appreciated.

Peter J. Laska
Poet and Critic

© December 1996

Peter J. Laska

Peter J. Laska is a poet and critic, he is also a professor of Literature, author of several books of poetry, and contributing editor of LEFT CURVE, an International Journal of FILM, CULTURE, POLITICS, he has published reviews and essays.

Professor Laska was also the editor and publisher of the now defunct literary magazine, The Unrealist .

Please contact Vincent via snail mail @
126 E. Main Street
Gloucester, Ma. 01930
Comments, Epiphanies and Insights most welcome!
E-Mail Vincent Ferrini

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