Alex Zivic has packed a lot into his slim volume of poetry, Ellipsism. The evocative and often spare poems cover loss, longing, visions and perceptions, with darkly lush illustrations by artist Wafalo.
Zivic, 25, spent about two years working on the book, writing in a Moleskine notebook or the Notes app on his phone. Sometimes he wrote from the Florida beach, sometimes in transit for his job. For him, it was all about following the muse.
“The theme changed several times, but the same intent was always there,” he says. For instance, returning home to St. Louis because of the pandemic led him away from the sun-soaked imagery of the book’s beginning, written mostly on Florida beaches.
Zivic worked virtually across distance with Wafalo, located in Texas. He’d describe ideas for drawings or send his own sketches, and Wafalo brough those images to life. Additionally, Zivic is responsible for the book’s notable layout, with purposefully inconsistent page design, blank pages and single-line poems with a page to themselves.
“One quote that I learned from another St. Louis artist, Katie Collier of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria — she one time mentioned that space is an ingredient. I loved that!” says Zivic.
The book hews to a few main themes, but the poems very much work on their own. The title, Ellipsism, refers to the sense of sadness felt when we realize we won’t live to see the future, that we won’t see how it all turns out. There’s also light and dark, visions and reckonings with the end of relationships.
As much as the work can sometimes feel directed at a specific person or specific breakup, it’s not, he says. There are many different views of many different relationships at play, and the different perspectives of different interactions lend nuance to the message being conveyed.
Proceeds from Ellipsism, Zivic says, benefit Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments (ALIVE), a St. Louis nonprofit that provides critical services to adults and children living with domestic abuse. It was important to him to give back to that organization, says Zivic.
“In the past several years, I’ve read some poetry books and I really thought, ‘Wow, I can really relate to this, I can really enjoy it,” he says. “I can do a great job at sharing my perspective.”
Ellipsism is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.