Tuesday, December 6, 2011

“Weighing in with Words”: A Review of Vittorio Carli’s A Passion for Apathy: Collected and Rejected Poems

(Press of the 3rd Mind, Chicago, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-9800257-3-9)

On the last page of this brand new First Edition, there is an opportunity for readers to write in for free samples of collections by such well-known independent poets as Bradley Lastname, Eric Johnt, Robert Pomerhn, and Patrick Porter. In the past nine years I have reviewed several of the works listed. I recommend them all and any other titles you can acquire from this Chicago-based small press, because quality and relevancy are guaranteed.

With this in mind, I was honored to have received an advance copy of Carli’s book and it didn’t disappoint.

Being a college teacher of film, literature, and humanities as well as a reviewer of film and art and collaborative performance artist, Carli is a poet that unapologetically tells it like he sees it, dissecting from his own multi-faceted and hyper-personal perspective such topics as literary academia, Death, the personalities of the Chicago poetry scene, reality vs. illusion in numerous areas, man vs. woman, the current state of Vampire lore, and a plethora of pop cultural and more obscure references, including his “Poem for a Friend who Hates Movies” and multi-page list of personalities that passed on in 2006 (no small irony that Darren McGavin and Dan Curtis died the same year).

My favorite poem in the collection is called “The Trouble with Librarians” (which brought to mind at least title-wise Lou Reed and John Cale’s “Trouble with Classicists” on Songs for Drella), a laundry list of politico-cultural Conspiracy Theory all laid in the laps of those oh so innocuous librarians…

Like many of my professor friends, Carli laments in “Ballad of an Adjunct” the thankless work of the academic. Reading things like this always makes me glad I left graduate school after a single semester…

…and he then goes on in “Ode to all the People I Love” to lambaste to greater and lesser degrees the Arts practitioners as well… so now I think I’m screwed…

Libraries, out. Academia, out. Stages, out.

Ah—but there’s always Las Vegas!

But, after reading “Viva Las Vegas” I am pretty sure Las Vegas is morte.

Carli employs similar sarcasm with “In Praise of Woody Allen,” a guy I never, ever liked… except maybe as a CG Ant…

I need to make it clear that this relatively small (68 pages) collection is in no way narrow or repetitious, either stylistically or thematically. Far from. There is free verse, rhyming verse (where Carli shows the least originality and strength), language poetry, story-poems, repetitive poems, and even a bit of vispo, and the ending poem of the book: “Theological Parody” is something else again, and well worth a few careful reads.

Poet–publisher Bradley Lastname and Press of the 3rd Mind continue to be at the forefront of the small and independent press, and in this transitional time of major publishers dealing with the drive to digital, it will be smaller presses like this one that will provide the stability of their traditions and quality catalogs and a place for good poets to go while the bigger guys are hiding out and game-planning new ways to keep their hands in the pie.