Review: Cut-up Apologetic

Cut-up ApologeticCut-up Apologetic by Jamie Sharpe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the sophomore collection of poetry by Jamie Sharpe, available April 01, 2015 through ECW Press. It is also available for pre-order through Amazon. I received an ARC Kindle version through NetGalley.

Sharpe’s poetry is poignant and fresh, holding a magnifying glass freely to Corporate North America and to himself. The entertainment industry, banks, pharmaceutical companies, and realty industry are all called out sharply with wit. From “UberSweet (TM):”

. . . UberSweet replaces calories, promoting
holes in the brains of mice at 200 times the sweetness
of sugar. Taste-test panels confirm long-term
nervous system damage, immunodeficiency
and the inability to differentiate from sugar. . .

He doesn’t avoid pointing the finger at himself either. My favorite poem that looks inward is “Talking to My Wife About Having a Baby/That Canyon’s my Son:”

I feel the two of us are
not enough / enough / too much

take an average and determine I
don’t know / will never know / know.

          Why keep throwing applesauce
          into the canyon?

It’s hard not to read a bit of poetic self-critique in many poems. “The lesson of reality / TV is original // content’s nothing, / editing’s everything. // The phonebook’s / a great drama // when cut right.” [From “Mrs. Meg Kilbourn.”] This cutting and splicing is demonstrated beautifully throughout the collection such as in “Compounded,” where Sharpe takes the same passage, but divides the compound words and resets the line breaks to create two complimentary images. Then, the lines are meshed back together creating yet a third jagged image.

collapsed against the bar
                                        collapsed against the bartender
tender is the night
                                        is the nightclub’s only blonde
club’s only blonde broad
                                        broadcasting looks across
casting looks across counters
                                        countersinking loss
inkling loss with beer
                                        with beer mugs everywhere
mugs everywhere

As much as I enjoyed many of the poems and observations therein, the early formatting on Kindle took away from the experience. Poems ran together and the table of contents was a mess complicating easy usage. It was enough of a distraction to call into the question the integrity of the layout as it compares to the poet’s wishes and that of the printed version of the collection. I was able to secure a corrected copy and it made a world of difference, bumping my original assessment by a couple stars. The first version I had seen had not been true to a single poem’s lay-out. And yet, I had liked it. I highly recommend this collection, but remain wary of the Kindle format for this one. Amusingly, “Photo Booths” may sum up how I feel about the choice of medium:

“Photo Booths”

impose limitations:
fixed location
& time between shots;

same you,
in the same clothes,
with the same background.

Variations only
in juggling elements:
visual anagrams.

[Check out my other reviews here.]

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