UVU’s Beatnik Poet to Read at Sunstone
Salt Lake City – When Alex Caldiero was asked about his poetry style by the Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, he referred to himself as an “entertainer, jester, and priest.” In fact, as the dictionary explained, he is part poet and “part performance artist.”
Arriving recently in Salt Lake City to read from his new book, some love, at Ken Sander’s Bookstore, Caldiero brought in a drum, jew’s harp, and loud speaker as backup props, and he began by going into a trancelike state and mumbling the words, as if he were speaking in tongues. At other times he sang the words and once reverted to his native Sicilian. Some of the poems were short and plucky:
You pick up a penny
and give it to me.
You don’t believe in luck,
but you know I do.
Others were long and contemplative. “You are taking down decorations from your body,” he said of a woman undressing after a party, “as if a holiday of your life were over.” His book is dedicated to his wife, Setenay.
In his shaggy beard, Caldiero looks like the reincarnation of Allen Ginsburg. However, he cannot be accused of being derivative. He is too complicated for that. For instance, he holds the very “establishment” post of Senior Artist in Residence at Utah Valley University, and he is a believing, practicing Mormon. Even so, he comes across as “a weird cat,” a student wrote in an online teacher evaluation, “someone who loves what he teaches.” Caldiero not only loves poetry, he lives and breathes it.
He will certainly not fail to impress again as he dazzles another audience with his words, drums, and other accoutrements at 10:00 a.m. on August 1, 10 a.m. at the Sunstone Symposium. It is being held this year in the Olpin Student Union Center on the University of Utah campus.
The Sicilian-born poet immigrated to the United States at age nine and grew up in Brooklyn, apprenticing for a while with sculptor Michael Lekakis and poet Ignazio Buttitta. His Mormon ties brought him to Utah in the 1980s. His published work has been reviewed in the Village Voice and New York Times, among others, and he has received grants from the National Endowments for the Arts and Utah Performing Arts Tour.
Students at UVU either fall in love with him come away baffled. Stephen Carter, editor of Sunstone Magazine, explains that it can be disorienting to listen to Alex “peer beneath the cultural skin” of the local environment to probe its “organs, machinery, and spirits.” somelove, the 120-page collection from Signature Books, is divided into seven parts. Each poem carries a time-and-date stamp indicating when it was written.
To attend the campus reading, people will need to purchase a $10 entrance ticket in the ballroom area prior to the event (or register to attend the full symposium). Copies of some love will be available for purchase in the book room.