In the flesh
In “Napoleon’s Boots and Dante’s Body,” the conquering general tastes victory in Italy: “There’s nothing like antiquity / to make you hungry for the treasures of a tomb. // Ah, what a tomb was Italy …. // all beautifully elided like layers of pastry in a papal cannoli.” And later, “This is so good I must eat the whole thing, said Napoleon.” Like many of those in Camille Norton’s award-winning collection, Corruption, this poem is both intensely literary and fully engrossed in the flesh. Her gift, it seems, is to take ekphrasis—familiar to fans of the eponymous Sacramento-based journal as poems that take a work of art as their point of departure—beyond the merely descriptive, into a merger of the personal and the historical.
Norton, a professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, will be the featured reader at the Sacramento Poetry Center on Monday, September 25. Corruption, chosen by Campbell McGrath as a selection for last year’s American Poetry Series, was published by HarperCollins.
The reading is free at 7:30 at the Sacramento Poetry Center, which is housed in HQ for the Arts at 1719 25th Street (25th and R streets). For further information, call (916) 451-5569.