They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full

Mark Bibbins, Author
Mark Bibbins. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (122p) ISBN 978-1-55659-458-8
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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The voice of this third book from Bibbins (The Dance of No Hard Feelings) is marked and numbed by the onslaught of American media and politics that saturate the Internet, television, radio, and smartphone: “the way things are going, children/ will have to upgrade to more amusing.” Much like advertisements or news stories vying for viewer’s attention, the book intentionally overwhelms, eschewing sections; the author instead differentiates the poems by repetition, creating a sort of echo chamber, similar to the way viral information cycles through social media platforms. In one of his six deliciously vicious “Pat Robertson Transubstantiation Engine” poems, he writes, “O heavenly/ flogger you should be watching me/ on cable right now.” Other poems are marked by a charming self-consciousness: “Maybe certain poets should have breathalyzers/ connected to their computers or typewriters or hands/ so they can’t do what I’m doing right now to this poem.” But Bibbins really shines when he addresses the immediate from a different space. His eight-part poem “Medusa” is deft and haunting. Written without fanfare, the images reflect contemporary American violence: “There are/ as many bodies in the palace/ moat—they are their own/ country, even if their shapes are no longer theirs.” (Apr.)
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