Joseph Torra is a poet, novelist and editor. His works of fiction include My Ground Trilogy, The Bystander's Scrapbook, They Say, Call Me Waiter and What’s So Funny.
His poetry books include Keep Watching the Sky and After the Chinese. He edited and introduced Stephen Jonas, Selected Poems, and co-edited Through This Suspended Vacuum: Poems for John Wieners (with William Corbett and Michael Gizzi).
From 1990 to 1996 he edited Lift Magazine. He presently is on the editorial board at Pressed Wafer Press.Torra teaches literature and creative writing courses at the University of Massachusetts, Boston
PFP Publishing is proud to announce the release of a new edition of My Ground Trilogy. The trilogy consists of the novels Gas Station, Tony Luongo and My Ground.
Joe Torra’s loosely connected My Ground Trilogy tells the stories of three working-class, Boston area people—each of whom is trying to crawl out from under.
Gas Station (1996) is a slice of everyday life that reveals the thoughts of a boy who works more than he plays. Weathering the tedium, frustration and occasional fearsome excitement of events in his immigrant father’s business with a kid’s interest and an adult’s sense of responsibility, the narrator puts the reader in a gritty, greasy garage that somehow relates to everyone’s transition out of childhood.
In the second novel, Tony Luongo (2000) is a slick-dealing salesman in Pratt’s department store who juggles the effects of his Italian-American upbringing, marriage, parenthood and his own obsessive sexuality with post-war social and political change swirling past him. The endless stream of mental observations brings the reader through territory that is as real and affecting as it is unsettling.
Finally, in My Ground (2001), Torra again explores the working class experience in urban Massachusetts. Forty-year-old Laurel Bell, negotiates through past trauma and present depression to support herself as a poor single woman. Simple, yet vivid detail reveals her mental and emotional process as she constantly tries to reconcile the past and present sufficiently to make sense of her reality.
Praise for Torra's My Ground Trilogy:
“The story telling has a wonderful sense of imagination, intelligence, economy and originality…”
- Hubert Selby, Jr
“Torra’s evocation of the… twisted white-trash milieu is brilliantly done, creating an uneasy portrait of life on the fringes of sanity and society.”
- London Times
“If words were lug nuts, Joseph Torra would spin them in ways the guys down at the garage never dreamed of.”
- New York Times Book Review
“Torra has a real eye, not simply a literary one…the text is signaling an allegiance to an entire prose tradition that includes everyone from Kerouac to Creeley and reaches back to the best of Melville…Gas Station offers an extraordinary document…”
– Ron Silliman
“Gas Station is a beautiful first novel…both lyrical and true.”
- Publishers Weekly (named as one of their books of the year 1996)
“Tony Luongo is a brilliant read…”
– Esquire, UK
“Torra lays bare the working-class New England life by submitting it to an unflinching attention to detail and what he reveals in My Ground is the ordinary within the extraordinary life of his protagonist.”
- Gay Times
"It was a great experience being a waiter, and it gave me time to write. Any life the artist has is the right life -- rich or poor -- who cares? What I didn't like about being a waiter was that people couldn't believe you were a good writer if your worked in a restaurant."
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think poets and artists often take themselves too seriously. I mean
everybody is important in some way. Hey -- my plumber is more
important to me than most poets at any given time. When my pipes are
clogged -- and I got to go...who am I gonna call? We all have our
god given talents..."
"I think poets and artists often take themselves too seriously. I mean everybody is important in some way. Hey -- my plumber is more important to me than most poets at any given time. When my pipes are clogged -- and I got to go...who am I gonna call? We all have our god given talents..."
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"Bill Corbett delivers some of the best readings I've ever attended. Not only is he a great reader of his own work, but Bill always reads the work of other poets. Could be anyone: O'Hara, Bishop, Wieners, Olson, Moore, Niedecker, Williams, Tu Fu, or even some old blues lyrics. The effect is like going to hear jazz artists who play standards next to their own compositions. This generous correspondence has a way of connecting an artist to a wider context, beyond his/her here and now. Thus the experience of the audience is broadened. ...It's a curious thing when Bill reads work from other writers, no matter how different the poetry might be from his own, somehow it comes out as if from the same cloth. I sense that if he didn't tell us he was reading Guest or Porter, we wouldn't know. Bill's one of the few poets who ends a reading, and leaves me wanting more."
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"Fanny Howe is not only one of my favorite poets, but I love her novels too. She has a way of bending the form to shape her needs. I'm always struck with the way she charges her prose with feeling until it seems to bleed on the page. As always with good writing, it's not only what an author writes, but how they write it. Fanny Howe's prose often reads more like poetry."