Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Breaks / Chris Rizzo

The Breaks

Chris Rizzo

Fewer & Further Press—you can buy the book here

Now that I have stopped drinking so much, I have time at night to do some casual reviews. Not really. I don’t have time but I can procrastinate studying for my comprehensive exams by actually reading some of the nice books that people send my way from time to time. So, I’m going to start with Chris Rizzo’s little chap called The Breaks. The first thing that I notice about this little gem is the back cover which lists the poems as one would songs on a mixed tape or CD. (as side one and side two). So, I’m thinking that the poems are going to be like songs.

Song one is called “I Can’t Get Started,” and is either inspired by Duke and Gershwin or written to both or something like that. I’m not sure; maybe it isn’t that important. What I like about this poem, and the book for that matter, is the energetic nature of the word play. He manages to pull off this word play while maintaining an emotional resonance in the poems. I think that this is very rare as this kind of play can have a tendency to distance the reader. It reminds me a lot of Harryette Mullen, who does the same. Here’s an example from that first poem, “onomatopoeia ataraxia, spool and aswoon, / between walls the attentions not gifted / puff sulk in the lower glower of away.” Now, I can honestly say that I have no idea what the hell that means, but the sound makes me want to keep going; the music that Rizzo finds in the language is amazing.

I’m putting the next song, “OOL-YA-KOO,” on repeat. It starts, “Here coo to press and yabba dabba do.” Now, how cool and weird and funny is that? I never thought that Fred Flintstone would appear in a poem that I actually like. (I was more of a Scooby-Doo fan, but that’s just me). Again, Rizzo’s ear is phenomenal and he actually pulls off using “Betty Crocker” as a verb: “Ghetti and Adidas, whet says drywall / when you Betty Crocker / in the noon, pull out the stops and cant / the levels, love your neighbor / to the bedrock.” This seems like a city poem to me but the city is a “bluing city of smalls.” Are we in Bedrock? Are we in Dizzy Gillespie’s version of bedrock or Albany? People are walking about. There might be a woman in a kitchen. “Scatological been done on the walk.” Is this New York? Nope. It’s the imaginatively sonic realm of The Breaks.

Oh yeah…he made me look up the word ‘hollyhock.’


Jess said...

Hollyhock is one of my favorite flowers, specially Watchman, which is black, or as close to black as flowers come. Thanks for writing a review of Chris' chap!

sandrasimonds said...

oh no problem.
i really liked the book. beautiful.