Many ferry riders are all too familiar with waterfront dive bars. This might be the perfect book for their next journey.
Dana Gioia has been hailed for decades as a master of traditional lyric forms, whose expansive and accessible poems are offerings of rare poignancy and insight.
In Meet Me at the Lighthouse, he invites us back to old Los Angeles, where the shabby nightclub of the title beckons us into its noirish immortality.
Elsewhere, he laments the once-vibrant neighborhood where he grew up, now bulldozed, and recalls his working-class family of immigrants. Gioia describes a haunting from his mother on his birthday, Christmas Eve.
Another poem remembers his uncle, a US Merchant Marine.
And “The Ballad of Jesús Ortiz” tells the story of his great-grandfather, a Mexican vaquero who was shot dead at a tavern in Wyoming during a dispute over a bar tab.
“I praise my ancestors, the unkillable poor,” Gioia writes.
This book is dedicated to their memory.
Including poems, song lyrics, translations, and concluding with an unsettling train ride to the underworld, Meet Me at the Lighthouse is a luminous exploration of nostalgia, mortality, and what makes a life worth living and remembering.