After the Bell, reads like a Greek play–both a comedy and tragedy, the chorus being the high school body of a small town. The poems are by turn many things, “a tale about some pain or some desire.” In language both gorgeous, elegiac, and deeply rooted in the social world, Stanizzi never flinches from narrating the heroic moments in both his (as the teacher) and his students’ lives. These are real people, texting about miscarriages, drug abuse, 9/11. I read After the Bell, let it rest by my bed, read it again. I felt the book transported me to a place “…where sadness doesn’t rule.”
~ Jennifer Martelli, Apostrophe
After the Bell features finely-wrought verse that shows poetic muscle and style, a willingness on behalf of the poet to showcase his strengths working in a variety of forms, including narrative, lyric, and even the formal restraints of the villanelle. Even more impressive about Stanizzi’s poetry is how he accurately depicts the challenges of being a teacher, including dealing with the small things like frequently correcting the word definitely on papers, or the big things like dealing with the death of three kids in a car crash during the first month of teaching. In some of his strongest verse, Stanizzi links his childhood and education to that of today’s times, especially the similarities between the “duck and cover” Cold War-era and the post-9/11 world of lockdown drills and color-coded terror threat levels. After the Bell successfully illustrates just how difficult teaching can be, while also proving through fine-tuned language and spirited imagery just how much of a difference teachers can make.
~ Brian Fanelli, All That Remains
“Stanizzi’s visceral collection of poems tantalizes our senses and thoughts with words, but more importantly, he intuits, after decades of teaching, that answers to the problems of life are not easily found. A lyrical, illuminating, remarkable book.”
~ Diane Smith, Grey Sparrow Journal
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