Poetry. California Interest. MOTIVE AND OPPORTUNITY is principally located in Los Angeles, where the poet has lived and worked since 1968. The five pieces collected here are various attempts at poetic language trying to settle in this metropolitan sprawl of contradictions. Or as Carey McWilliams called it in his seminal Southern California: an Island on the Land, "very much a city that refuses to know itself." From "Driving Platitudes" and "The Grid," both written while driving across the seemingly endless metropolis, to the most recent "Motive & Opportunity," a detective poem, this book moves around Vangelisti's almost native city, leaving a trail of affections and casual encounters.
Paul Vangelisti has published more than thirty books of poetry and is a noted translator from Italian. In 2015 he edited Amiri Baraka's S.O.S.: Poems 1961-2013, for Grove Atlantic, and later this year a bilingual edition of his poems, Imperfect Music, will be forthcoming from Edizioni Galleria Mazzoli in Modena (Italy). In 2006, Lucia Re's and his translation of Amelia Rosselli's War Variations won both the Premio Flaiano in Italy and the PEN-USA Award for Translation; while his translation of Adriano Spatola's The Position of Things: Collected Poems, 1961-1992 received the Academy of American Poets translation prize in 2010. Vangelisti lives and works in Los Angeles.