Chris Tonelli


EEYORE, SADISM, & GRAVITRON: A Conversation about The Trees Around

[Editor’s Note: This review-as-conversation follows Joe Hall’s interview with Birds, LLC]


Each poem in Chris Tonelli’s first book The Trees Around gives me the impression of a brain thinking hard. It is sitting there, inert and silent; it is also about to explode from internal tension, so concerned this brain is with thought itself, contained nothingnesses, outer surfaces vs internal realities, sign and signified, circularities and…circles:

…The birdbath
had been the center of a small universe,

the attention anchored in each of us.
Now it stands like a messenger

arrived to find no recipient. Severe,
like the still unbudding trees–its solid

pedestal, the circular cement dish filled
with solid water, nerve-rackingly still.

How Trees plays out these tensions varies over its four sections. And so I think readers of this collection will be split in their allegiances between the Gravitron section (poems written from the perspective of a carnival ride!) and the rest due to their sheer difference. READ MORE >

1 Comment
October 14th, 2010 / 1:28 pm

Last Rally

The last  issue (?) of The Raleigh Quarterly curated by Chris Tonelli and Chris Salerno has been updated today. RQ has has featured some great poets in their short tenure like Mark Yakich, Matt Henriksen, Emily Kendal Frey, Mathias Svalina, Sarah Bartlett, Joe Massey, Tony Tost, Kate Greenstreet, & Laura Sims, who  authored the poem below.


Uncategorized / 7 Comments
January 11th, 2010 / 4:03 pm


DOUBLE YOUR POETRY FUN: Chris Tonelli’s No Theater, G.C. Waldrep’s Archicembalo

Christopher Salerno reviews Chris Tonelli at the Tarpaulin Sky blog. Click through to read the whole review.

Chris Tonelli’s chapbook, No Theater, the first from Brave Men Press, feels like a flagship collection. Tonelli’s poems are highly Apollonian. As a whole they are sculptural, relying largely on their form, moderation, measure, and order. These poems are leaden, unmovable yet spare: “You wear your mask to bed, / so you never have to be asleep. / I’ll wear mine / while I’m awake, / so I never have to / be awake.”


Darcie Dennigan reviews G.C. Waldrep at the Rumpus. Same click deal as before.

On the front flap of this book of prose poems structured after a 19th century musical primer, G.C. Waldrep prompts us, “What does it mean to listen to poems the way poems listen to paintings?” While I have sincere doubts that even Waldrep knows exactly what this means, the directive is liberating. No matter how intimidatingly intellectual these poems might look to the casual browser, the poet himself is basically saying, “Hey, no critical analysis required.” And so, over the last six months, I’ve made Archicembalo into background noise—I am reporting on it not as a reader but as a listener.

October 28th, 2009 / 5:19 pm

Chris Tonelli on Ellen Kennedy, at Open Letters Monthly

3140965108_6363f67db4-212x300After the epic fail that was Matt Soucy’s lazy, mean-spirited review in Coldfront–a rare blunder for one of the best poetry sites out there–it brings me enormous pleasure to direct your attention to Chris Tonelli’s excellent microreview of sometimes my heart pushes my ribs, newly online at Open Letters Monthly.

In personal or private moments, like the one above, Kennedy’s speakers relentlessly exhibit a kind of binary—ones and zeros—type honesty. They actually have the kinds of conversations we only have in our heads. For this reason, at least under Kennedy’s spell, Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs feels like one of the purest examples of how to be good to one another, a contemporary collection of first-person parables.

Author Spotlight / 92 Comments
September 8th, 2009 / 12:41 pm