Finalist, National Book Awards 2016 for Poetry

Archeophonics, by Peter Gizzi book cover
ISBN 9780819576804
Wesleyan University Press
Peter Gizzi author photo
Peter Gizzi

Peter Gizzi is the author of seven collections of poetry including Threshold Songs and In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011, and The Outernationale. He has also published several limited-edition chapbooks, folios, and artist books. More about this author >

Award Years

Award Status

Award Categories

Archeophonics is the first collection of new work from the poet Peter Gizzi in five years. Archeophonics, defined as the archeology of lost sound, is one way of understanding the role and the task of poetry: to recover the buried sounds and shapes of languages in the tradition of the art, and the multitude of private connections that lie undisclosed in one’s emotional memory. The book takes seriously the opening epigraph by the late great James Schuyler: “poetry, like music, is not just song.” It recognizes that the poem is not a decorative art object but a means of organizing the world, in the words of anthropologist Clifford Geertz, “into transient examples of shaped behavior.” Archeophonics is a series of discrete poems that are linked by repeated phrases and words, and its themes and nothing less than joy, outrage, loss, transhistorical thought, and day-to-day life. It is a private book of public and civic concerns.

Judges Citation

In Archeophonics, Peter Gizzi dives deep into speech and syntax to bring together emotion and philosophical inquiry. He investigates fundamental human concerns, both those that are current and urgent and those that persist beyond our urban turmoil. The book captures a cosmic loneliness in the face of our increasingly disorienting public reality. Air is a primary element in this book—the air we breathe to stay alive, the air we use to form each uttered sound. It is through language, “the ecstasy of naming,” that we shape everything we know. From molecules to galaxies, for Gizzi, everything is spinning, as he spins his piercing, lyrical lines.


Peter Gizzi reads from Archeophonics, 2016 NBAs Finalists Reading