But mostly dick jokes.
From The Front List
B Is For Bad Poetry by Pamela August Russell. Poetry. Hardcover. Sterling Publishing Company. ISBN: 9781402767876. 118 pps. $9.95.
So It Is Not With Me As With That Damn Muse
like an amateur
Leaving me alone
Well boys and girls, if any of you ever said to yourself: "I wish Charles Bukowski had been a woman because that's for me," then it seems your ship is in.
Now all you need do is comb the hillsides of LA looking by the highways for this new Queen of sodden, wrung-out poetry. I'm not making that up. The only real biographical information about the author, one Pamela August Russell, is that she lives by a highway in Los Angeles.
At times bordering on yuk yuk jokes and at others plumbing the centimeter or so of dust that constitutes the slow malaise of alcoholism and mild depression, this book is one thing consistently: funny.
"The light at the end of the tunnel/ needs to be replaced." Yuk yuk.
"We tried./ We even tried/ just a little bit harder./ It's not working." Sad.
I can tell you now
when you sat naked
on the edge of my lips
how good it all felt,
maybe I shouldn't
have told you
to shut up.
At the bargain price of ten bucks it is well worth your while and certainly ideal reading for that most noble and porcelain of reading rooms.
But do not mistake. This is grimy and feminine poetry and hopefully (one can't be sure) also honestly wrought. It conjures in my mind a messy room with wrinkled sheets possessing a smell so nuanced and pleasing that only you believe you know of it. It reminds me of three-alarm hangovers and grilled cheese sandwiches, wasted days and evenings that stop and start with the first drink.
This is the poetry of the intelligent wreck. It is Dorothy Parker and Charles Bukowksi reminiscing about the time they wrestled for a fried chicken leg while absolutely shit-faced. Embarrassing really, but oh so glorious to recount.
I can sum it up this collection in two sentences:
If you've ever sat alone and hungover, thinking about how big the mistakes you've made are then this book is will be a beloved friend to you.
If you're perfectly happy and don't understand how someone could feel sorry for themselves because of choices they have made then, well, fuck you.
Very worth your while is Russell's poor poetics on Twitter as well as her blog devoted entirely to the subject. Bad stuff. I hope she keeps it up.
From The Back List
Martial's Epigrams by Martial-Marcus Valerius Martialis. Translated by Gary Wills. Poetry. Trade Paperback. Penguin. ISBN: 9780143116271. 205 pps. $15.
My works charm, taken verse by stinging verse.
Can they, collected in a book, seem worse?
No, Martial. They do not. Or rather they could not.
They were were often handed out as party favors and more often issued like arrows from a bow, meant to strike opponents with shameful accuracy. They are perverse but not always crude. They are the epigrams of a wonderfully deranged wit.
Your pubic hair you trim to please your lass.
For whom do you so neatly groom your ass?
Perhaps the most interesting aspect to Martial's life and writing (beyond how delightfully filthy it is) is the fact that he lived and wrote during one of the most oppressive periods in Roman history. Nero was in decline when Martial came to Rome from Spain but this despot was followed quickly by another in Domitian.
Yet Martial was very careful to never openly attack these figures and instead focused on a sort of comic gossip in which he leveled the homes and good names of many a Roman hypocrite.
You call your cock "The High," to make men stare.
"-And Mighty" I'll call mine, to form a pair.
And this isn't even a halfway scandalous selection.
When drunk, she can't remember what she did?
Same as when sober - sucks dick at first bid.
Yes. Now that's more on the mark. Now picture the wealthy merchant's wife this was leveled at. Well, don't picture her too much. This is a site about literature, after all.
So if you have the time and a filthy mind you most certainly will want a copy of Martial somewhere in the house. Use it as an icebreaker when you have a date home.
About The Writers
B Is For Bad Poetry
Pamela August Russell: Catch more of the poet's vague bio here or here.
Martial on Wikipedia.
Gary Wills on Wikipedia.