Cool Limbo (Paperback)
NYQ Books, 9781935520405, 120pp.
Publication Date: May 15, 2011
Poetry. LGBT Studies. COOL LIMBO is a series of dazzling portraits that are accessible yet complex, hilarious yet poignant, down-to-earth yet ethereal. Like its cover, which features the title poem's sexy 70s chick lounging stoned by the pool (as she neglects the water-winged kids she's supposed to be babysitting), the book is the best kind of party unofficial, unpretentious, and unabashed. And everyone's there "on plastic lawn furniture...with six packs and lit cigarettes: " From Liz Taylor, Gertrude Stein, and The Golden Girls, to Orpheus, Vanity Smurf, and Stevie Nicks. Poem after poem, these figures somehow mingle with the poet, in the not-so-still life studies of his boisterous family and friends, building a narrative about the departure from suburbia to the big city (from the ghost of a boy to a realized though sometimes-haunted man) all while commenting on, as Elaine Equi puts it, the "constantly shifting sexual codes" assigned to men and women alike. Few places can you find a poem about a gay porn star that concerns itself with the meaning of objectivity and art just pages after a charged feminist manifesto called "If Hello Kitty Had a Mouth." But beyond that colorful variety of subject and theme, not to mention his mastery of dialogue and what Mark Bibbins calls "devious one-liners," what's most remarkable about this poet in his debut collection is his ability to confront the serious and painful while never abandoning his sharp sense of humor and playful spirit.