The Next in Line

Christopher Schmidt, Author . Slope $14.95 (71p) ISBN 978-0-9777698-3-4

This Slope Editions prize-winning debut contemplates the nuances of 21st-century homosexuality with continuous candor and winking humor. The three sections showcase a range of poetic forms and styles: sonnet, ghazal, dialogue-driven narrative, lyrics and prose poems, all rendered in a wordplay-obsessed voice that is by turns darkly clever (“Black. Black letters. Blackhead. Black Island. Around the black.”), weirdly sexy (“bus runs to sub-Boston porn moor, horny homo zoo”) and beautifully grim (his moldy eyes / roll to the sky // nervy thing / his larded wings // leave my hands / dark as newsprint”). Schmidt references Beckett, Hitchcock, Kafka, Callas, YouTube, Priapus, campy slang, mementos of gay culture and techno-jargon in considerations of love, familial dynamics, and relationships between strangers, students and teachers. In a few pieces, the stop-starting language and punning can be so amped up as to be off-putting, but most of these 38 poems display a powerful and appealing energy: “Too young to drive. High time to bale. Then damp harvest and how to pay. The problem begetting lever, machine. Give me a log tong, I'm good.” (June)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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