Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Constance Stadler reviews David Blaine's Antisocial

Review: Antisocial by David Blaine

David’s Blaine “Antisocial” is a hidden treasure. You expect poetic diatribes and rants, you get wonderful wit laden bites that must be read a second or third time or the rich profundity/in-your-face irony will surely be missed. Though seeming toss-offs ,these are multi-faceted, rich gems.

There are many targets here, but not specific “causes”, Blaine rather wishes to probe the fertile underbelly of the genesis of our sequential stupidities:

In Guns ‘n Butter, our impassioned, unthinking love affair with environmental destroying “wheels” is turned into a sardonic rendezvous:

I’d been having an affair/with a hydrocarbon medusa./A crude relationship/ based on heavy metal/ m.r.e.’s and gunshot residue.

This continues to progress until we reach an acme, B.S. Mentality, where all the poet’s talent and message comes through, in a totally captivating way ~ a casual discussion of Christ, and his ‘way with words’:

Jesus wasn’t a woodsmith
but a wordsmith

and he’s always been misunderstood,
I mean Golgotha—
that was a tough crowd.

I am the way, the truth and the life.


What Christ needed
was more concrete imagery

like the son of man…now that must have pissed his mother off.

Joseph probably grinned his best “that’s my boy” grin
then caught an elbow in the ribs and that “you’re not getting any tonight” look
From Mary.

(Does the “you’re not getting any tonight” look work when you haven’t gotten any for—

Acerbity and challenge are not avoided; indeed in not a few poems the confrontation is brutal. This is in-your-face in The Truth (Really):

For my poem to work
I needed to speak to you
like a two faced friend
sponging a drink

like that homeless guy
who needs a dime for “bus fare”

or like a politician
scamming your vote.

But I’m certain an educated
upstanding person,
such as yourself,
gets that

don’t you?

Or in History’s Child:

Fact is brutal/Fact is a bare two hundred watt bulb/ Fact is a glaring in your face …/Truth is fact with the corners rounded off/and the edges softened ... / Fuck fact/
tell me your story.

But on the occasions when his rage becomes specific, it is blistering as in the innocuously titled, Won’t you come to my house:

In Sudan the children are starving/while we're turning food into oil. I’m getting eight miles per baby this week./What time can I pick you up?

One of the true delights of this rich volume is the unexpected. David’s originality, insights, raw talent and puckish wit combine to making this book a must-read.

Towards the end of the book he challenges Dylan Thomas’ ‘take’ in Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night:

Why rage?/Which essential tasks remain?/Fetters chains …/refuse this fight/retreat into light/embrace December’s whitened night.

You read this and murmur. “David, you are a force of nature”, and that would be … quite … accurate.

--Constance Stadler is the Review Editor for Calliope Nerve and the author of two chaps, Tinted Steam (Shadow Archer Press), Sublunary Curse (Erbacce) and a full-length eBook Paper Cuts (Calliope Nerve Media). --When David Blaine was young, Mafia hoods roughed him up and stole his middle name! He could live off his writing, if someone else would pay the bills. David’s work has appeared in Blue Root, Third Eye, Arsenic Lobster, Contemporary Rhyme, and Stimulus Respond. Antisocial is available at Outside Writers.

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