Tuesday, February 13, 2007



Elapsing Speedway Organism by Bruce Covey
(No Tell Books, 2006)

Elapsing Speedway Organism--Bruce Covey’s book is appropriately titled, for in this collection many different types of poetry are thrown at us while we watch them speed towards or past us. Poems with different forms and content--list poems, self-help styled bowling poems, love poems, poems that incorporated other texts--these poems ask us to take in a lot and adapt to new reading styles. It helps that Covey uses humor to ease our transition into the new styles and that each of the sections seems to have a controlling theme, like a section on love poems.

Humor, though, makes these poems stand out. Covey’s humor is quirky, paratactic, and interesting. He throws in lines that seem to come from nowhere, like “If your socks wear out, try my yellow ones” or “Is Hart Crane a style of kung fu?” The lines come at us sideways, so we have to step back and see what’s happening. For example, take a poem like “14 Kung Fu Climaxes.” Knowing that this book is published by No Tell Motel, famous publisher of . . . well, sexy poetry, the references to climaxes seems inviting and violent at the same time, but then we read through the poems and they are life climaxes in kung fu fashion:

And that’s when, slipping on a lemon peel,
I bent over to pick it up, admiring the
Brilliance of the yellow, then had my throat
Severed by your sword.

In this series of fourteen, Covey uses humor and repetition, but he also brings in the big ideas:

And that’s when, as I realized all battles
Were really only spiritual and metaphysical,
I felt the need to pee and ran out
Of the room.

The poem moves from spiritual depth to low humor quickly, showing us scenes repeating in different ways, and like many poems in the book, this one shows a clear link to writers like Kenneth Koch or Rod Padgett.

Covey’s humor even shows up strongly in the section of love/flirtation poems in lines like “Insert your hyperlink in my ear.” Interestingly, his humor is definitely one ready for the contemporary world. Note his reference to a computer term in the above line, the speed at which the poems come at us, and the paratactic fragmented nature of some of the pieces. In sum, this book is complex and intriguing; plus, this book would be rewarding to read over and over.


Musician, sailor, poet, critic--William Allegrezza teaches and writes from his base in Chicago. His poems, articles, and reviews have been published in several countries, including the U.S., Holland, Italy, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Australia, and are available in many online journals. Also, he is the editor of moria, a journal dedicated to experimental poetry and poetics, and the editor-in-chief of Cracked Slab Books. His e-books and books include The Vicious Bunny Translations, Covering Over, Temporal Nomads, Ladders in July, and In the Weaver’s Valley. He occasionally posts random thoughts on his blog p-ramblings.


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