cover image Artificial Cherry

Artificial Cherry

Billeh Nickerson. Arsenal Pulp (Consortium, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $14.95 trade paper (86p) ISBN 978-1-55152-540-2

Nickerson (McPoems) continues in line with his previous three collections, merging the absurd and crass with lyricism and sentimentality. The collection is presented in four sections, ranging from broad ones on the body and crushes, to the very specific "Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival"%E2%80%94which is one long poem, an itemized list inventory of quirks from the festival%E2%80%94and "Shelagh Rogers Called Me a Slut and Other True Stories," all poems reflecting on readings in various locations, each one ridiculous in its own way. The poems include cultural references, musings on childhood and an orifice on almost every page%E2%80%94done smartly and with reason. In "The Ghost of Blowjobs Past," Nickerson comments on Vancouver's gentrification through a very personal lens. Poems range from having in-your-face titles like "Scrotal Eclipse of the Heart" to sharp anecdotes such as an affectionate one of poet Lorna Crozier loving the fashion at a party only to realize the party's theme is dressing like her. "Irony is my bread and butter," muses the poet in this clever and insightful collection. Nickerson takes on an otherwise unclaimed Canadiana%E2%80%94one known by writers and queers, and those who look for the absurd and poetic in everyday encounters, or who find it without looking. (May)