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Bloodletting in Minor Scales [A Canvas in Arms.]

Bloodletting in Minor Scales [A Canvas in Arms.]

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Bloodletting in Minor Scales [A Canvas in Arms.]

Justin Limoli


A mother attempts suicide and fails. Life goes on, but as her family picks up the pieces, gratitude mixes with sadness & anger at the attempted departure. In this dream-like play in verse, blood becomes a character, hearts are fed to the stage, and Dialogue delivers a monologue as Justin tries to determine whether he can truly forgive or forget what has been done.


Full-length, Poets' Theatre, Nonfiction

Cast: 7M, 3W, 23A

Cover design by David Watt



Tarpaulin Sky

The Small Press Book Review

Full Stop



Real Pants



What a gorgeous, intense, original work. As the feral offspring of Samuel Beckett and Jack Spicer, and as his glorious, sincerely hilarious self, Justin Limoli navigates territories of love, family, and survival, and approaches the realms of verse and drama (tender, wise, absurd) with his powerful first book, Bloodletting in Minor Scales [A Canvas in Arms.]. This book is pivotal, a suspenseful exploitation of a single life-changing event and the surprises that hide in the psyche. It is as much about inventing form as abiding it, as much about healing as performance. It is a remarkable narrative of perception presented in fractals. The verse play as we've known it is done.

—Maureen Seaton


An intricate knife puzzle of words and ideas, as seen through a shattered syntax mirror. One thinks of the painting by James Ensor entitled Masks Fighting Over a Hanged Man.

—Kris Saknussemm


The language is rich and rousing, with echoes of the convoluted closet drama of Dylan Thomas, Edith Sitwell, Arthur Kopit, and the French surrealists, and its picture of a boy beset by his mother trying to kill herself of course brings echoes of Long Day's Journey into Night or Tiny Alice—or earlier, pre-modernist plays of the classical era. Justin Limoli writes dialogue fresh as country air, and yet it is the dark, nightmarish, and precise atmosphere he can conjure up with a single noun, like 'copper,' that you will come out of the theater remembering.

—Kevin Killian


I read Bloodletting in Minor Scales [A Canvas in Arms.] and I re-read it. I do not know what to do with this book. Take it in or refuse it? Either way, reading is happening. Thus, this is extreme poetry—it faces and evades, creating a scaffold in the tradition of poets theater around a narrative '...more like sifting when you try to hold it.' A failed suicide, a mother who is beloved, difficult rooms, details that most would prefer to shun. Blood knife anger forgiveness and back again. Justin Limoli writes it all. What is poetry for? This. Admit that life is staged via language and we are all murmuring, teetering at the edge of a drama begging to be redacted. Such power from book-sized pages, and as I open, agreeing to read on and again, the lyric pulls me back from a precipice called 'impossible.' Such wide-angel I mean wide-angle beauty.

—Jill Magi

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