National Poetry Month 2015 Has Come To An End…

…and I have officially finished three entire books of poetry. This is something I’ve never done. In my life. Ever. It wasn’t a dramatic thing that changed me as a human being or anything, but what Louisa Spaventa said was true… “It can give you something that nothing else can give you.” I got brief glimpses into the thoughts and lives of these  people in uber-condensed shot-sized doses.

9781935904687Hot Teen Slut  by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Her first job out of college is writing and editing for a porn site. Hot Teen Slut chronicles her journey from job interview all the soul-sucking way to her very last day. From being unemployed and eating frozen pierogies for four months straight, to a job that pays all the bills, plus some (but destroys her creatively), to that fateful day during the infamous dot-com collapse that the company is bought out by one more family-oriented, her position is liquidated and she is laid off just before she gets on a plane to Australia to finally perform her poetry at the Melbourne Arts Center. Her poems are sardonic, twisted, full of objective and emotional truth, and sometimes a little sad, probably because the author, while writing them, was a little sad, I’m guessing. At least that was the sense I got by the time I finished the book. But Aptowicz also seems to perfectly capture the feeling many creative people feel in their lives when the things they have to do to pay the bills become the causes of their creative-self dying a slow and painful death. Longing, regret, resignation, acceptance, and then total and absolute rebellion and rebirth. It also helps that she’s really damn funny.

Poems like “Falling Down On The Job” with lines like “My heart is built like a bad excuse”, talk about her medically bad heart, reveal something about the poet. Others like “Understanding The Cum Shot” reveal what the job is doing to her…

“This poem is proof                                                                                                                                                                that I need to step away                                                                                                                                                       from this laptop”.

And finally, “The Sass Manifesto” is a sex-positive shout out for the need of more descriptive words in “erotica” for what happens when women get turned on. To see what I’m talking about, just go read the poem. Then you’ll understand.

9781938912306The Importance of Being Ernest by Ernest Cline

Being a big fan of Cline’s already, this was an easy choice for me. We’re pretty simpatico when it comes to Geek Culture, both in our love of science-fiction and our employment background as technical support specialists at Apple Computers. He compliments my cosplay on social media and I push his books on everyone I know. The Importance of Being Ernest contains poems from Cline’s slam poetry days back in the late 90’s in Austin. But far from being dated, I found them to be, mostly, still relevant and relatable tales about the awkwardness of youth, the disgust one feels being around a bunch of misogynist dude-bros, and contemplations about taking death for granted when, maybe, you shouldn’t. Though admittedly the one about defending the (fictional) murders of the most terrible theater goers on earth has largely been addressed by the cultural juggernaut, The Alamo Drafthouse (to which all movie lovers owe gratitude, and also the place I most frequently run in to Cline).

But by far my favorite of all of them, and one that I think will be relevant always, is the one titled “Cunning Linguistics”. Say it out loud just one time and you’ll immediately get a sense of what it’s about. Sex-positive, pro-female poetry, with mocking derision towards all things that are not those things, regardless of who is writing it, will always and forever have a place. My hat’s off to you on this one, Cline. Love it!

9780978989224Beer Songs For The Lonely by Francois Pointeau

By far the most cryptic poems of the three books, Beer Songs For The Lonely is heavy on the imagery and metaphor, and much less direct in what it is trying to say.

I’d be lying if I said I knew what each of the poems were about. But imagery like flying St. Bernards, groupings of a thousand ducks, and other such things lend a note of the absurd. Many of the poems are in multiple parts, each part tending to be fairly short, and attacking a subject from a different side. Reading page after page eventually made me feel like I was wandering through another person’s dreams. I didn’t always know what they were about, but the imagery was very striking.

Here’s my takeaway… If stories are like meals, poems are like superfood. I’m definitely inspired to dig deeper and experience the voices of other poets. Sherman Alexi keeps popping up these days, I think I’ll start there. And I’d love to take some recommendations for further reading from you in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “National Poetry Month 2015 Has Come To An End…

  1. I could really use that book right now. Why? Because I’m in mormon country, where everyone believes in jesus mysticism. God help anyone who is different in these lands.

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