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INNOCENT POSTCARDS: Poetry Ciphers, Verse (Roadside Press)

John Pietaro's latest collection might be referred to as "neo-modernist" in its reach—both backward and forward, with each phrase a full, radical grab. Innocent Postcards recalls the socio-political poison of the red scares, 1919 through the Cold War, as much as it celebrates visions, memories, emotions and the fight-back of the century. And still.

Within you'll ponder black-and-white film and television, swoon to Spanish Civil War ballads, struggle through the evening news, groove to progressive jazz, cringe at the headlines and advertisements, and ride raucous punk and no wave. Also, marvel over seemingly mysterious documents on global spy sensations obtained through the FBI's open vault. The reports on rock stars and the Rowan and Martin Laugh-In show would be purely comical were the level of official ignorance not so repulsive.

Oh, and the title? The "innocent postcards" overtly sent via airmail included cryptic messaging that might otherwise appear, well, innocent. You'll also find other tid-bits of the spy vs spy years tucked into these contents. Pay particular attention to the Bureau messages to and from the despotic J. Edgar Hoover.

None of it should serve as comforting nostalgia.

"Innocent Postcards by John Pietaro lucidly and beautifully recalls the moods and realities of Cold War Culture and its impact upon us all today. If, as a recent New York Times critic wrote, American liberalism after the New Deal ran out of dreams and turned to the Cold War for a convenient enemy, we have all suffered immeasurably and may only now be emerging, we hope, from that long nightmare. Pietaro's poems offer a measure of recovery."—Paul Buhle, historian/author/editor, Encyclopedia of the American Left, Radical Hollywood, Blacklisted, Hiding in Plain Sight, Bohemians, SDS: A Graphic History, many more.

"Jazz is poetry is history is revolution is jazz. John Pietaro and I had a friend, Steve Dalachinsky, who hated the expression "jazz poet." Pietaro understands why. The pieces in this collection are not "jazz poems." They are jazz. They are poetry. They are part of the past and part of the future and we hope, part of the revolution."—Puma Perl, poet, writer, journalist, and frontwoman of Puma Perl & Friends. Her latest book is Birthdays Before and After.

"John Pietaro's collection Innocent Postcards is not a comforting nostalgia trip but a stark reminder of a turbulent past, inviting readers to reflect on the relentless pursuit of justice in the face of Cold War adversity. Written in language that is clear, precise and evocative, Pietaro explores the untold stories of bold writers, musicians, actors, dancers, and visual, film, and performance artists who risked their careers and lives for justice in a nation founded by and for a select few, proving that the past is present in all its poignant triumphs and defeats."—Richard Modiano, Director Emeritus Beyond Baroque Foundation and winner of the 2022 Joe Hill Prize for Labor Poetry
The publication of Pietaro's latest was the result of winning a contest of the Uncollected Press/Real Art Review. With A Bleeding in Black Leather, John Pietaro takes urban poetry and fiction on a throbbing roller-coaster ride through latent modernism, self-exploration, jagged rhythmic cadences and the raw sounds of music and words. All the while reveling in New York centricity. Here's a collection conceived in Selby's Brooklyn in the bare light of the blue hour.
"In 2020, I described John Pietaro's The Mercer Stands Burning as a love poem to the muse and to NYC itself. One foot out of the pandemic, A Bleeding in Black Leather is part punk rock dirge, part jazz symphony, paying homage to the lost and to the living treasures. Sonny stands at the bridge and Selby's Brooklyn "surrounds Manhattan like a fallen idol." The last lines are, I hope, a segue to the next installment: 'So smeared, the rainbows of ink…saturation to the vivid'."
-PUMA PERL, rock-n-roll poet of the Lower East Side, resident poet of Chelsea Community News, she leads the band Puma Perl & Friends. Puma's latest publication is Birthdays Before and After.
"This groundbreaking collection by John Pietaro is all New York. At night. These amazing poems and tales are influenced by the Beats, punk and jazz –but Melville remains very much alive in these pages, too. A Bleeding in Black Leather is the continuation of great art."
-RON KOLM, poet, editor, founding member of the Unbearables, and downtown archivist of the NYU Library. His latest book is Swimming in the Shallow End.
"Damn—John's drawing us in again with well-wrought words—this time A Bleeding in Black Leather...the Big Apple's the backdrop! Props!"
-RAYMOND NAT TURNER, Poet-in-Residence of Black Agenda Report, he co-leads jazz/poetry ensemble UpSurge!NYC
"The Night Leonard Cohen Died reads like a literary documentary reel; even the day and the hour of creation are recorded. How cool. A truly poetic cinéma verité."
-ANDREW STYS, artist, filmmaker, UK
"Pietaro's straightforward urban writing style is reminiscent of Beat literature, with a clear progressive view."
-ANTHONY MANGO, People's World

The Mercer Stands Burning

Night Poems by John Pietaro

(Atmosphere Press)


With The Mercer Stands Burning John Pietaro embarks on a foray of verse, one threading standard poetic forms through the revolutionary and the narrative. These works are as drenched in New York's radical core and colorful history as its post-punk, free jazz and spoken word soundscape.


John Pietaro is a writer, poet, musician and cultural organizer from Brooklyn NY. A denizen of downtown's underground, he has been known to thrive in the dark. These are Night Poems. 



"The Mercer Stands Burning, the groundbreaking collection of poems by John Pietaro, is "for New York", as he says in the dedication. These amazing poems are influenced by Jazz and the Beats – Miles and Coltrane, and the late Steve Dalachinsky, but Melville is very much alive in these pages, too." -Ron Kolm


"I don't know if John Pietaro set out to create one long love poem to the muse, to the poets, writers, and musicians, to New York City, its dark streets and long nights, but it turns out to be just what we need in these uncertain times.  In this writer's opinion, he has assembled his best work to date." -Puma Perl


"John Pietaro's words are soul cries and observations from a Real Human longing for light, like the moan of a saxophone in the NYC pandemic isolation night!" -Billy Lamont


"A tireless fighter and organizer on the cultural front, John Pietaro now shows up with a timely volume of tightly crafted, silvery sinewed poems." -Raymond Nat Turner


 Published by Atmosphere Press  

122 pp

Available November 30, 2020



For more information on author John Pietaro visit http://JohnPietaro.com  

Press inquiries:  New Masses Media   newmassesmedia@gmail.com

"Smoke Rings", poetry chapbook. published October 2019: 

Poetry for the after-hours, later than the night. With "Smoke Rings", John Pietaro, a writer whose work is impassioned with the literature of rebellion, the heritage of noir and the urbanity downtown, presents his debut chapbook, a terse, dark and sometimes satirical homage to New York at night. Dismissing the elitist venues and developers which have ghettoized artists over generations, "Smoke Rings" encompasses the edge of the tapestry, the free jazz, punk culture, modernist verse, bold performance and radical politics that cast the vision. Plainly put, here's a collection of works from just beneath the underground.


CONTENTS: Haze/5:03AM (for Steve Dalachinsky)/Discreet Foundlings of Quiet Places (for the Velvet Underground)/Blue/Dancing to Incessant June (for Bern Nix)/The People of Night/Impressions (for John Coltrane)/Langston/Sonic Incursion/Robert Quine on the Rocks/The Lonely/Conjured and Cast (for Kenneth Fearing)/Burroughs Inferno and more

A Bleeding in Black Leather

A Bleeding in Black Leather (Uncollected Press/Raw Art Review, 2022) With A Bleeding in Black Leather, John Pietaro takes urban poetry and fiction on a throbbing roller-coaster ride through latent modernism, self-exploration, jagged rhythmic cadences and the raw sounds of music and words. All the while reveling in New York centricity. Here's a collection conceived in Selby's Brooklyn in the bare light of the blue hour. 

Available in NYC at Village Works (12 St. Mark's Place) or via various internet sources including the publisher's site

A Bleeding in Black Leather