Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Joe Amato  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1955 in Syracuse, New York

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Illinois Connection

Amato has taught writing and literature at Illinois State University in Normal since 2003.

Biographical and Professional Information

Joe Amato is an American writer best known for his poetry and his work in poetics. A licensed Professional Engineer in New York State, Amato spent seven years in industry working in various project engineering capacities before returning to graduate school. He holds degrees in mathematics and mechanical engineering from Syracuse University (B.S./B.S., 1976), and degrees in English from University at Albany (M.A., 1986, Doctor of Arts, 1989). Amato is the author of nine books, including a memoir and two novels, and numerous essays and reviews. With his frequent writing partner, Kass Fleisher, he's written a full-length play and several screenplays (none of which have been produced to date). His prose, poetry and digital art have been published in ''Antennae'', ''88'', ''Chain'', ''Crayon'', ''Jacket'', ''Bombay Gin'', ''Denver Quarterly'', ''Los Angeles Review of Books'', ''Mad Hatters’ Review'', ''Mandorla'', ''New American Writing'', ''Postmodern Culture'', ''MiPOesias'', ''Notre Dame Review'', ''Nineteenth Century Studies'', ''Ragazine'', ''Something on Paper'', ''The Iowa Review'', ''The Iowa Review Web'', ''The Spoon River Poetry Review'', ''Voices in Italian Americana'' and electronic book review. He's also the production manager at Steerage Press.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Symptoms of a Finer Age.
ISBN: 1885215126

Viet Nam Generation & Burnin. 1994

Bookend: Anatomies of a Virtual Self (SUNY series in Postmodern Culture)
ISBN: 0791434028

SUNY Press. 1997

Bookend challenges distinctions between prose and poetry as well as between popular and academic culture, embodying a wide array of poetic techniques to argue that form and structure are themselves essential to artistic and cultural meaning. It critiques the current media environs, a hybrid reality in which the individual encounters his or her public and private selves in the midst of a crisis of values. Each of the five anatomies represents both a personal and a local account of where the author finds himself in social and educational terms, and an attempt is made throughout to situate this individual experience against a global imperative.

Finger Exorcised
ISBN: 193428923X

BlazeVOX Books. 2006

Poetry, wild and unruly, that refuses to hew to a signature style.

Under Virga
ISBN: 0925904562

Chax Press. 2006

Poetry. "'An ingenious gathering of poignant leapfrogging...a muscular memorializing...a sly haunting.' This is the book that's everything Amato says it is and is not. It bounces on water, refuses to be paraphrased, and invites itself to dinner. Buy it by the case while there's still time"--Cole Swensen. Joe Amato is the author of Symptoms of a Finer Age and Bookend: Anatomies of a Virtual Self. His poems and critical essays have appeared in numerous journals, including 88, Chain, Jacket, Bombay Gin, Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, Postmodern Culture, Notre Dame Review, Nineteenth Century Studies and electronic book review. He teaches writing and literature at Illinois State University.

Industrial Poetics: Demo Tracks for a Mobile Culture (Contemp North American Poetry)
ISBN: 1587295016

University Of Iowa Press. 2006

Through a dizzying array of references to subjects ranging from engineering to poetry, on-the-job experiences in academia and industry, conflicts between working-class and intellectual labor, the privatization of universities, and the contradictions of the modern environment, Joe Amato’s Industrial Poetics mounts a boisterous call for poetry communities to be less invested in artistic self-absorption and more concerned about social responsibility.s Amato focuses on the challenges faced by American poets in creating a poetry that speaks to a public engineered into complacency by those industrial technologies, practices, and patterns of thought that we cannot seem to do without, he brings readers face to face with the conflicting realities of U.S. intellectual, academic, and poetic culture. Formally adventurous and rhetorically lively, Industrial Poetics is best compared with the intellectually exploratory, speculative, risky, polemical work of other contemporary poet-critics including Kathleen Fraser, Joan Retallack, Bruce Andrews, Susan Howe, and Allen Grossman. Amato uses an exhilarating range of structural and rhetorical strategies: conventionally developed argument, abruptly juxtaposed aphorisms, personal narrative, manifesto-like polemic, and documentary reportage. With a critic’s sharply analytical mind, a poet’s verve, and a working-class intellectual’s sense of social justice, Amato addresses the many nonliterary institutions and environments in which poetry is inextricably embedded. By connecting poetry to industry in a lively demonstration against the platitudes and habitudes of the twentieth century, Amato argues for a reenergized and socially forceful poetics---an industrial poetics, rough edges and all. Jed Rasula writes, “I can’t say I pay much attention to talk radio, but this is what I imagine it might be like if the deejay were really smart, enviably well read, yet somehow retained the snarling moxie of the am format.”

Pain Plus Thyme
ISBN: 1600010016

Factory School. 2008

Poetry. The title is a play on the old equation: pain + time = ? This book pays homage to poets and poetry while at the same time asking -- often in deadpan, and including a few pages of comic illustration (drawn by the author) -- what on earth literature might contribute to this crazy, mixed-up world.

Big Man with a Shovel
ISBN: 098363260X

Steerage Press. 2011

A work of highly unconventional literary fiction, Big Man with a Shovel is a modern-day fable in which a powerful laborer befriends a young worker only to find himself pitted against a tyrannical foreman. Set in Upstate New York in 1965, this coming-of-age drama mixes folklore, myth, and metafiction in a story that is by turns playful, suspenseful, and mysterious. Available in paperback and Kindle editions.

Samuel Taylor's Last Night: A Novel (American Literature Series)
ISBN: 1628970995

Dalkey Archive Press. 2015

Samuel Taylor is not a rock star - Samuel Taylor is a writer. Samuel Taylor is not a rock climber - Samuel Taylor is a teacher. Samuel Taylor has lost his job, Samuel Taylor has lost his wife, Samuel Taylor is beginning to lose his fortitude. Samuel Taylor is beset by moral failure, by mortal failure, by the failure of his species to safeguard its survival. Samuel Taylor must do better than to fail better, and failing that, Samuel Taylor must find in failure the means to move forward.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)