Poems for Two Violins by Joseph Roccasalvo exhibits a striking talent for the formal style in poetry. The collection is masterful for employing rhyme, meter, and the wordplay of puns and paradox. In the celebration of love in mysticism, romance, and abiding friendship, the poems are subtle and emotional, complex but always comprehensible. They are so overtly musical that the tag, poetically Bach, best describes them. They share that composer’s gift for point and counterpoint in their symmetry and precision of choice. The playful wit, conspicuous in the spiritual poems, would captivate even the most secular reader. Poems for Two Violins will inspire both poets and lovers who have a zest for rhyme and meter.
- Dear Joseph, Forgive me for my tardiness in thanking you for your poems. I have spent the summer reading submissions for the National Book Award in poetry, and so have read little else. But among your poems, my favorite is "The Desert's Game," especially the second verse-paragraph: "the pain is purest /Where the pain seem pointless." It reminds me of Yeats, and what he said about the arbitrary rules of monastic discipline: "When rules are reasonable, we merely obey our reason in following them; but to observe quite arbitrary rules is pure obedience." Many good wishes to you in your lives of teaching and writing, and may each life nourish the other. Sincerely yours, Richard Wilbur
- This is a collection of solid poems. They have a superb sense of tone--perhaps the hardest thing to catch in words. The language feels inevitable because the author has looked and found the utterly achieved word. It's not surprising, for his mastery has come through after long practice. He chooses his language with an ease of directness that lends coherence to poetic structure; the discipline of rhyme and meter ensures the music. Occasionally, he writes in the manner of Gerard Manley Hopkins whose taut style he imitates to heighten emotion. When the author does so, the imagery is impressive, the effect arresting, especially in the spiritual poems, which are theologically startling.
- I've been asked for my opinion of Poems For Two Violins. In short, the book is inspired. It draws its artistic form of rhyme and meter from the legacy of Auden and Eliot, Frost and Yeats; and like them, by giving full expression to the human spirit, the author proves himself their twenty-first century heir apparent.
- After I finished reading Joseph Roccasalvo’s POEMS FOR TWO VIOLINS, I had an experience of literary enlightenment. I felt my soul had been touched by an unfathomable mystery. Complex human relationships sound through his melodic verses. Rhythm and rhyme are presented, sometimes cleverly, but always at the highest level of literary composition. Doubtless, this collection of poems may someday be recognized—it is by me—as an undisputed masterpiece by a bright but still enigmatic poet. I’m eager to read another poetry book from this gifted author. Meanwhile, I’m grateful to Joseph Roccasalvo for his artistic vision so vividly shared with me and his reading audience.
- Powerful! Poetry is in your veins, and your violins play to the reader's heart. I am overwhelmed with what you've written in POEMS FOR TWO VIOLINS.
- POEMS FOR TWO VIOLINS, as a physical object, is itself quite beautiful; with its striking jacket illustration and elegant typography. I recollect having seen earlier versions of many of the poems. But the manner in which they have been combined, and the association of each group with one of the musical tempi, sound a new note (so to speak). Poetry is clearly the author's metier. The mastery of the language and the naturalness and unobtrusive rhyme are quite remarkable, to say nothing of the variety of the thematic material.
- My response to POEMS FOR TWO VIOLINS is that it opens out to all of us in a most felicitous and uncontemporary way. I am enthralled. My favorites are Counterpoint, Candlelight, and Ricordare. Believe me that I will reach for this volume again and again. How absolutely wonderful to see you focus on poetry. Please, please continue . . . or publish more of what you may already have written.