OTHER PEOPLE'S POETRY: I've been a bit overwhelmed in poetry the last few days -- my own and that of others. This week I read Brent Goodman and Charles Jensen's chapbooks, both of which won the Frank O'Hara Chapbook Award.

Since Brent's Wrong Horoscope won the 1999 O'Hara award, I'll start with him. I read the chap twice -- last night and again this morning -- and was pleasantly surprised to find that Brent and I have covered the same territory (nuclear war fears and strange answering machine messages to name a few) in our work. The poems are lyrical and often enigmatic, but never difficult. The landscape Brent has created in these poems exists in a near-future that seems post-apocalyptic. The people and places appear slightly out of focus and voices from the past surface like ghosts. In Garage Sale Answering Machine, a woman's voice left on the tape haunts the narrator's house:

I move into the kitchen, but her voice
follows, filling my hollow cupboards as I reach --
Please pick up...Pick up...
Please...Your lights are on...

Brent's poem Duck and Cover about childhood fears of being vaporized in an atomic bomb blast reminded me of my Three Mile Island that appeared in Terminus last year. We both explored that insane idea that crawling under your desk at school might somehow save you from the bomb. Brent writes: "And every morning, we stood, palm covering our heart. We memorized our social security and practiced our falls."

Brent only has a few of these chapbooks left, so I highly recommend dropping by his blog and getting your hands on one. He'll sell or trade. Do it...now...hurry.

I can't get too review-ish on Charles Jensen's beautiful Living Things because I'm giving it a full write up in the spring edition of The Pedestal, but I had to mention it on the blog so you, gentle readers, can get a copy ASAP. In just 14 elegantly spare poems, Charles' gives voice to a man coping with the suicide of his lover. The poems are infused with details that only stick in the brain in moments of grief: the look in the cop's eyes at the scene, a bored shop clerk while buying a funeral suit, the changing temperatures in the funeral home. But all of these little things add up to a book that is not about death, but life. It's about how we move forward despite loss, and that mortality is a tightrope we all inch along day by day. You can order the chap via Charles' blog. Again, do it now. Go on.

Comments

jenni said…
Great reviews!
BRENT GOODMAN said…
Collin - thanks so much for givin my 1999 chapbook some fresh lovin! I'm a latecomer to the blogosphere and this post made my weekend!

cheers,

Brent
Jennifer said…
Collin, Collin, Collin! Did you watch the L-Word last night?????
Collin said…
I was at Java Monkey last night to hear Ami Mattison, so I missed L Word. I plan to watch it tonight after "24." Nothing goes better than bombs and lesbos. :)

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