peri sought the ideal in eternal forms and represented primarily single images in space and time. Particularly Samperi considered the position of "the eternal" in time; similar to the objectivist poets, he refused modernism's nostalgic attempt to recover lost time. Instead he focused on "the consciousness of objects in time, but removed from their dependence upon time" (Faust 248). Early influences on Samperi's work include Louis zukofsky and Cid corman. Samperi shared significant correspondences throughout his life with Corman and Theodore enslin, as well as the Australian poet Clive Faust, and he admired his contemporary, Robert Lax, for "the Franciscan sensibility of his writing" (Miller and Zurbrugg 12).
Samperi was born in Brooklyn, a city often celebrated through "snapshots" in his poetry. He served in the
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United States Army in the Korean War from 1953-55. Shortly after his return, he began to publish; his first collection, Song Book, appeared in 1960. Samperi subsequently published several extended series of poetry, such as The Prefiguration (1971) and Quadrifariam (1973).
Samperi's untitled poems are both spiritual and metaphysical: He calls, in Quadrifariam, for a "theological" poetics, saying that he writes "for angels" and, consequently, does not "know the practical world." Despite these transcendent ideals, however, Samperi is also concerned with the details of ordinary life—depicting such images as pigeons flocking near a tree, a woman gathering hill flowers, and children in a valley. In The Triune (1969), for example, Samperi describes "seeing children in the midst of a valley / the stars wood beyond wood beyond a river." Here Samperi not only renders the layering effect of the natural world, but he also foregrounds the position of the child in this vision. The repetition of "wood beyond" and other phrases gesture to that mysterious "Eternal Form" that lies beyond the pastoral scene, just before the poem proceeds to describe that "Back street / drunk" in the city.
In addition to the tensions between the ideal and the material, as well as life in the country and life in the city, Samperi is also keenly interested in the legacy of the poet and his or her craft. For example, he claims in Anti-Hero (1973), that "it is not the writers job to seek out the latest innovations; he has ancient teachers and with them he silently converses." In silent conversations with his imagist predecessors, Samperi wrote poetry that, like the haiku form, makes minimalist linguistic statements. These statements often only contain one- or two-word lines, forcing confrontation with not only the words, but also the white space of the page that surrounds them.
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