Alamo Theory

Josh Bell. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (82p) ISBN 978-1-55659-399-4
Bell (No Planets Strike) tackles difficult matters of contemporary politics and society in his second collection, scattering throughout the book a series of poems that appropriate the persona of former Mötley Crüe front man Vince Neil. Readers should prepare to chew on every word; Bell has a tendency towards sprawling lines, dense prose poems, and unanswerable questions. He also addresses his material obliquely. "All night long I think I've been wearing a certain hat," Bell writes in "Your Prime Minister Speaks." He continues, "But by now it should be obvious to you, as it is not obvious to me, that I am actually wearing a different hat altogether," asking, in effect, whether those in power know what they are doing and whether it matters. "And who are you/ out there saying," he asks, "that the language/ is still your friend?" For all the collection's sensory overload, the less showy shorter poems pack the most power: "Even then,/ in that silence that seemed almost/ a silence, sadly we were not/ alone." The shifts between the surreal and the earnest can be jarring, even if they fit their 21st century social context. Perhaps that's the point. And one way or another, whether it's Bell's brief flashes of insight or his long-winded verbosity, readers will be left breathless. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 82 pages - 978-1-61932-158-8
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