Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Cloud Versus Grand Unification Theory: Poems by Chris Banks

I'm starting to think that "prose poetry" isn't for me. It just doesn't fit in with what comes to my mind, personally, when I think of poems. Presented before me it seems more like a ramble, or a drabble, or a collection of archived Twitter status updates.

I requested an ARC of THE CLOUD VERSUS GRAND UNIFICATION THEORY because I thought the title was intriguing and I thought the goldfish on the cover were cute. I wasn't really sure what to expect going in, but I have enjoyed much of what ECW Press sends to me, so I had faith.

TCVGUT is a collection of poems, many of them "prose poetry" but some of them done freeverse and more traditional stylings, written from the perspective of a jaded Gen-Y-er, suffering from nostalgia, ennui, and existentialism. From 1980s rock music to Orpheus, Chris Banks manages to cover a fairly broad collection of subjects and the stylistic themes are fairly unified.

Here are some of my favorite poems in this collection:
+: "All-Night Arcade"
+: "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out"
+: "Amplifier"
+: "Roadside Attractions"
+: "Dusk Till Dawn"
+: "Orpheus at Ethel's Lounge"
+: "Narrative Versus Lyric"

Here are some quotes:
"Most poems I read feel like I'm walking through someone's private zoo. One of those sad-looking affairs with a hand-painted sign just off a highway with a bear in a cage sitting with his back to you, a fox obsessively pacing the perimeter of a fence."
-Roadside Attractions

"I look out at the island knowing it stares back at me uncomprehendingly, not seeing me out here in the open, detached from everything, one with so little to hold onto, for nobody inherits the earth."

"Someone invents electric light in 1800, so our planet now resembles a gigantic Lite-Brite chandelier hanging in space."

"We write our life stories like song lyrics on album sleeves."

While reading this, I couldn't decide whether or not to give it a two-star review or a three-star review. On the one hand, it was nice to read a book geared more towards my generation than millennials, especially poems about my generation that talk about arcade games.

On the other hand, the prose poetry was tedious and written in these large hideous blocks devoid of any kind of spaces that made reading them - when I didn't even particularly want to do that in the first place - even more of a pain. Luckily, these poems are spaced out with other poems that I preferred much more, and many of these latter are actually quite good.

Ultimately, I decided to go with the 2-star rating. It's a short work, which means that the content is even more important, and the sad truth is that I really did not care for a majority of these poems.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

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