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Dancing at Lake Montebello begins at the dawn of the civil rights era, calling up memories of life in Baltimore, the most segregated U.S. Northern city, and moves through the poet's coming of age in the turbulent '60s and '70s. The book's final section, "More Dangerous for All of Us," melds the personal and the political--illness, death, loss and grieving, as seen through the eyes of one moving through middle age--and acknowledges the solace that nature and spiritual reflection provide.
Mixing free verse and traditional forms such as sonnets, the poems are accessible to a wide range of readers. Childhood summers at Ocean City, antiwar protests, civil unrest after the assassination of Martin Luther King and the death of Freddie Gray, first love, marriage, divorce, and finding love again in mid-life--all topics are fair game for Viti, whose keen eye for visual and emotional detail invites the reader into experiences from the tragic to the joyful.