Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review of Howie Good's Pornocopia

Pornocopia, poems by Howie Good. Gold Wake Press, 2011.

Good sets the tone for this collection with a contradiction in the title poem,

It’s fashionable
to die young
and be pessimistic.

I myself prefer
a Vicodin
to the present,

until later,
when we’re anointing
the bed,

your breasts
floating above me

like the pink and green sunsets

found only
in Ireland.

He acknowledges the nihilism prevalent in modern arts, while simultaneously mocking it with the subtle opening line, but he goes on to dispel the veracity of this nihilism with two images of beauty and life. The present is unbearable, but in the future, when sex and intimacy happen, life will be wonderful. It’s the absence of this that seems to make the narrator’s life unbearable in the present. In a vulgar sense, it’s almost as though he’s advising these ‘fashionable’ nihilists to get out and get laid.

In “The Fires of Evening,” Good continues the themes of sex and beauty, “I like how your legs/wrap around me/like the last beautiful evening,” (lines 1-3). There’s a sense of tension in this scene because of the idea of it being ‘the last…evening’; perhaps part of the power of the experience comes from this inevitable end. “The Kiss” is a kind of haiku:

Your tongue, a rising storm,
finds me. I wish I were a tree
so my branches could shake.

Good’s language is vivid and sexy, visceral and natural. His is a world in ruins, at times, difficult and troubled, but resounding with animal beauty. In section 3 of “What Love is This,” Good’s narrator states, “…when I fill you, you’re Atlanta, smoldering and in ruins, and I’m a cart loaded with the groaning wounded, we’re twelve grains of gunpowder floating mightily through the air, a new kind of pearl-handled combustion, and the only patch of snow to endure to evening on our quiet street.” There is something of a lost world, in this. The implication is of Atlanta invaded by the Union forces, something beautiful and doomed in a terrible world; that beauty is fleeting like the patch of snow.

Howie Good is an incredibly prolific poet, writer, and publisher. He’s a solid presence in the writing world, and this collection reinforces why that is so. He’s a talented poet cementing a place for himself. It’s always a treat to see Good’s work in journals because of his playful sensibilities, his powerful grasp of language, and his strong visuals. We’re lucky to have him.

-Reviewed by CL Bledsoe

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