Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lovesick

Lovesick by Howie Good
The Poetry Press
ISBN 978-0978904166

Reviewed by Nathan Tyree

Howie Good turns words into a reciprocating saw that can be worked through your gut. He has internalized the existential horror of existence and turned it outward. In the pages of Lovesick, Good alternates between the scalpel and the three pound hammer. He slices and smashes. These poems deal with terror, love, pain, loss, regret, politics; in short, all of the terrible things that life has to offer.

Good is, I believe, a journalist. This may account for part of his style. While his work is lyrical and lovely, it also has a cold mater of fact tendency. He writes about life in a way that takes for granted that this is all terrible. As he puts it in one poem "life is a rifle butt to the face". Nothing could be more descriptive of existence, and yet noting could be more simple. It is precisely this easy turn of phrase that marks these poems.

These poems also have a knack for interesting constructions. In one instance he refers to the "extruded plastic moon". This is a blue collar phraseology that should appeal to a rather masculine audience. Such references are antithetical to the common feminine tendency of most modern poets. These are manly poems, and yet they are soft; filled with longing and regret and loss. That dichotomy is much of the power of Good's writing. He strikes a difficult balance between traditional tropes and modes and something wholly modern. I may be straying from the point, though.

Another important aspect of these poems is the often oblique allusion. Good never specifically mentions the holocaust, or South American death squads, or the mother's of the disappeared; yet they are there for full view. In these pages are all of the horrors of the twentieth century, discarded and used up.

Anyone who has followed Good's career will recognize some of these poems from varies online venues and from his chapbook Tomorrowland. This full length collection, however, offers so much more. This is an essential book. One that should be read and studied and internalized.

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