A Swallow Press Book


By David Yezzi

A Slate Best Book of 2008
Included in Pushcart Prize XXXIV: Best of the Small Presses

“Yezzi finds a way to write about relationships not found much in poetry, the iffy connections with acquaintances, couples, and places, cemented with convenience and jealousy as well as fondness. Romance will always have the limelight, but I think Yezzi’s tacit statement is correct, that these shallower relationships, failing in droves, contribute the bulk of the sadness to life.”


“Not yet 50, Yezzi ranks among our best formalists.”

The New York Times Book Review

“David Yezzi’s poems employ a distilled, deceptively low-key vernacular of educated American urbanites. A charged quietude prevails, with emotional and psychic intensities never far from the surface and often bursting through to piercing effect.”


Azores is not merely an impressive collection, although it is that. It also serves as a pleasing reminder that there are poets still writing for whom the responsibility of expression outweighs the desire to be regarded as shamanic.... (I)t is pleasing and useful to have a poet writing with controlled rigor about important themes.”

Contemporary Poetry Review

Like a voyage to the Portuguese islands of the title, the poems in Azores arrive at their striking and hard-won destinations over the often-treacherous waters of experience—a man mourns the fact that he cannot not mourn, a father warns his daughter about harsh contingency, an unnamed visitor violently disrupts a quiet domestic scene. The ever-present and uncomfortable realities of envy, lust, and mortality haunt the book from poem to poem. Yezzi does not shy away from frank assessments of desire and human failing, the persistent difficulties of which are relieved periodically by a cautious optimism and even joy. Whether the poem’s backdrop is volcanic islands in the Mid-Atlantic or Manhattan Island at sunset, Yezzi examines the forces of change in the natural world, as w hether mundane or startlingly intimate. By turns plainspoken, caustic, evocative, and wry, these poems are, in matters of form, well-wrought and musical and, in matters of the heart, clear-eyed and always richly human.

David Yezzi ’s books of poetry are Azores, Sad Is Eros, and The Hidden Model. His libretto for a chamber opera by David Conte, Firebird Motel, received its world premiere in 2003 and was released on CD by Arsis in 2007. His poems and criticism have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, New Republic, The Best American Poetry 2006, and elsewhere. He is executive editor of the New Criterion.

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Retail price: $12.95, S.
Release date: Feb. 2008
56 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Retail price: $24.95, S.
Release date: Feb. 2008
56 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Release date: Feb. 2008
≅ 56 pages

Additional Praise for Azores

“It is this breeching, this inability to exist in one mode that makes Azores such a valuable collection of work. Not content to merely model our divided humanity, the structure of Yezzi’s poems is amphibious – this is a formal collection that doesn’t read formally.... Buy this book, read these poems, and let them ask you where change lives. Wrestle with their words for the answer.”

Strong Verse

“Intelligent and moving, David Yezzi‘s Azores relies on understatement, humor, and masterful control of tone. Proficient and inventive in traditional forms, this poet speaks in an ironic, compassionate voice, his dark vision reminiscent of Frost at his most tender.”

The Antioch Review

“The new book of poetry that gave me the most pleasure this year is Azores, by David Yezzi. Yezzi writes with insight and elegance about the lives we actually lead—about the ironic balance between violent feeling and regulated behavior that defines adulthood.”


“What a beautiful book...redolent of Larkin, of Thom Gunn. That fierce eye, fierce and formal control.”

No Tell poetry blog

“The sophistication of Mr. Yezzi’s language perfectly suits the sophistication of his understanding, and some of the poems in Azores—“Very Like a Whale,” “Dog’s Life,” the brilliant and unexpected dramatic monologue “The Ghost-Seer”—display a mastery reminiscent of Philip Larkin and Donald Justice, which no poet of Mr. Yezzi’s generation can match.”

The New York Sun

“Yezzi’s vocabulary and diction are entirely contemporary; his meters and forms are traditional.... Altogether, for versatility and craft, he’s a new, necessarily less jingly Longfellow.”


“David Yezzi’s finely-tuned meters make the sound of New York now: a generous, disabused intelligence holding its nerve as nonsense and brutality build at the line’s edge, and the consolations of the personal burn brighter as darkness grows. A terrific book.”

Glyn Maxwell

“At first, the book’s title seems a bit of happy, misleading mischief. Most of the opening poems place us neither at sea nor at temporary landfall, but in the heart of the city. Yet the poet’s urban eye is always on the lookout for some watery waver, instants when the workaday world sways to a tidal pull. And we reach our islands eventually, in an inspired interplay of wind and sun. David Yezzi’s Azores is an A–to–Z of life recorded with nimbleness, humor, and longing.”

Brad Leithauser