Advance Review of Moonglow on Mercy Street, John Biscello

“stepping boldly and bravely / into the glaring unknown.”

[Floodlights]

Moonglow on Mercy Street is John Biscello’s newest poetry collection which reflects on the past year and showcases Biscello’s wondrous talent for poetry and storytelling.

Part one of this collection is beautifully kind to the reader: ‘bless your broken softly‘ [How the Light Gets In]. ‘Birthing Pains’ and ‘Red Balloon’ sum up the hope and determination needed this year while ‘The Gospel According to Heart’ demonstrates Biscello’s ability to make hope tangible with his words. Biscello also coins the word ‘feelize’ in this part which I felt was a perfect way to describe how we learn to love and discover ourselves. This is how Biscello always seems to avoid clichéd writing. The description in ‘The Moon and Me’, for example, is a beautiful portrayal of where poets draw inspiration from without recycling images we’ve read before: ‘what it feels like to feel the moon / pulsing intimately like a wild epileptic ember‘.

Some of the shorter pieces in the middle of Part one felt redundant but they do offer a pause too which I think can be purposeful for some readers, depending on how you read a poetry collection. They don’t necessarily add anything during a straight read through but do to a reader who might just pick up the collection and open at any page. Despite this, pieces like ‘Thirteen Ways of Visioning a Crow’ and ‘Into the Mystic’ are superb with brilliant introspection throughout and they lead perfectly into Part two.

The opening pieces of both Part two and Part three are phenomenal. They portray Biscello’s sublime storytelling as he easily writes from a character perspective; he draws upon the world around him and his involvement in the creative arts like film and theatre. Both pieces, especially the beginning of Part three with the inclusion of dialogue, read as if you a watching it scene by scene but it is poetry and I adore this structure.

Finally, ‘American Poem’ is an incredible and intelligent exploration of the role of a poet in society – ‘I know for a fact / that they kill poets / in these parts‘ and the closing pieces of this collection are often reminiscent of beat poetry. Thus, Moonglow on Mercy Street is an eclectic yet well structured and thought through collection as the reader is gifted the experience of Biscello’s talent for both short form, hopeful and compassionate poetry to storytelling to pieces inspired by Nin, Whitman and Ginsberg. 

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