Welcome to the 5-2 Blog Tour kick-off! Thanks to Gerald So for having me. He runs a great site, and helped immensely when I submitted my poem, “Just Ice.” Hell, he edited so much that I should give him a co-author credit.
Admittedly, I was skeptical when I heard the term “noir poetry.” I’m not sure why. I’m sort of an old crab when it comes to mash-ups and transmedia, and that had the same ring. Then I read a few poems at Beat to a Pulp by Gerald So and others, and I realized I was being a stubborn ass. Poetry can be all about emotion, and that’s one reason crime fiction resonates with me: the strong emotions inherent in criminal acts. Whether it is violent or not, in every crime someone feels violated.
There have been many excellent poems since Gerald opened up the 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly, but the one that resonates with me most so far is Keith Rawson’s $25. If you haven’t read it, go read it now.
It’s a very simple narrative which eschews over-description. He uses penny and nickel words to great effect. In a poem about giving blood, he doesn’t even use the word phlebotomist, which is admirable. I’d have given in to temptation, tried to rhyme with it, and messed the whole thing up.
Instead, we’re treated to a face “blotchy with whiteheads,” and a voice like “a cat’s tail slammed in a rusty screen door.” If you haven’t pictured this nurse with the needle in her hand, you’re not paying attention. In the end, it’s not the imagery that gives it power. That’s just the foundation. It’s the honest apathy of it. I gotta pay the rent, lady. And it’s too much trouble to rob you, so stick the needle in.
I wasn’t surprised when I read Keith’s bio and he said that it was based in reality. It has that ring to it. The inexperienced would dramatize it, appeal to our dignity. “Look man, I’m selling my blood. I’m reduced to that.” But someone who’s been there knows there’s an apathetic sadness to it. A resignation. I could sell my sweat or my blood. I’ve learned that in the end this is easier than sticking you up. I’ve been down that road, he says, using no words at all.
And that’s poetry, baby.
Here’s the schedule for the rest of the blog tour.
© 2012 Thomas Pluck