amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Natalie Zina Walschots: Doom, Love Songs for Supervillains

Gosh, I love feisty poetry, don’t you? I’m not a particular aficionado of supervillains in popular culture but that didn’t stop me from enjoying "Doom, Love Songs for Supervillains"(Insomniac Press, 2012). But if you do love DC & Marvel Comics, you'll probably go ape-shit over this book.

First of all, I enjoyed the honed down poppety pop sound play. You can read these babies aloud to your pals & they will laugh. I have to admit that it’s refreshing to read poems that aren’t autobiographical. it’s not that I’m against autobiography. I write a fair number of them myself, but sometimes you just want well-written poems that have fun & icksnay on the woe is me-isms, if you get my drift. I’m writing like this under the influence of NZW’s poetry.

These poems are smart too: they use some highfallutin’ scientific lingo.  

I read a heck of a lot of unrequited love poems & hear the same at open mics. They all have the same references to the moon, the wistful tone…Doom, Love Songs for Supervillains is parody of such without being cruel. It has off-the-wall similes & metaphors: "envious as a viaduct" (Dr. Octopus), "voicebox a soup can" (Joker); the opposite of praise: "face only a geneticist could love" (Doombot)...

How many of you have read “Thumbscrews,” (Snare Books, 2007) NZW’s first book, winner of the 2007 Robert Kroetsch Award for Poetry? It explores the concept of constraint in terms of poetic form and BDSM. It’s a helluva kinky little read. This follow-up collection has its share of kink too; nothing like a little degradation & humiliation & brattiness to spice up a read:

General Zod

kneel before
                obeisance buys lives
                so I knowtow
                press my forehead to your boot tip
                slobber and grovel –

or do you prefer me unbroken?
                I’ll grudgingly genuflect
                sweetly sneer
                as you wrench back my hair
                twist me to bruised knees

kneel

The whole idea of constraint from the last book is applicable here too, in my opinion. There’s a discipline to these poems in their minimalism, choice of diction & form. These poems do not wander; they get straight to the point.

They are smart too. Take a look at this one from the first section “Rogues Gallery: Domination”:

Jekyll and Hyde

you speak in third person
and enraptured by your dichotomy
I crave triad

all grey area
the swooping arch
of the coin caught
sideless

the in-betweenity
before chance

I long to be
your indeterminate

let me be the pause

the second part of this collection, "Strong Hold," which describes various fictional settings from the Marvel/DC Comics universe, seems to pour on the Gothic: hell never lets in a draft/never lets a hearth grow cold/never quails before collapsing towers” (Latveria).

I haven’t read a lot of comic books, but I’ve seen a few of the Marvel Comics films. One of the things that I noticed about these poems is that they seem to be an alternative rendering or viewpoint of what happens to the female characters, such as

Danger Room

and it is because she
her body an abattoir
smeared with rank slaughter

and data became senses
as flamethrowers shrieked
and radiation splattered

and her spine was destruction
each rib a welded hell
heartbeat a hologram

and with each invasion and tamper
each rape of her circuits
the heroes befouled her

and their filth swelled into form
the shape of metallic consciousness
her processor’s core gone synaptic and cold

a bullwhip breaking the sound barrier
a live wire touching your tongue
and she said: “Shall we begin?”

“Rogues Gallery: Girl Fight” features supervillainesses, such as Catwoman, Poison Ivy & Lady Deathstrike. I have to say that these poems are poems I wish I’d written. I wish I could write like this: powerful, brooking no argument, insightful, playful, argumentative with the status quo.

The next section, "Bondage," is about the prisons where these villains are housed. There’s a short section of two poems called “Bang” and a final section, “Rogues Gallery 3-Destruction.”

I’m impressed with the power of these poems & the creativity, playfulness & intelligence that went into them. I should also mention the superb illustrations by the very talented Evan Munday.


On a personal note, I remember when Natalie came to town to read, along with Ryan Fitzpatrick & William Neil Scott at the A B Series on November 1, 2007. It was the inaugural event of the darling A B Series. I wrote about it here.  afterward we chatted & drank at that back of the Mayflower pub that no longer exists. Dear friend Warren Dean Fulton was there too. It was a heck of a good time. I dearly wish Natalie, Neil & Ryan would return. We'll have to find a new pub though. 

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