Friday, April 21, 2006

a review...

the new Naked Knuckle is out and they've a review of my latest book. I reprint it here for any who would like to support Joe and Jerry at Nerve Cowboy and in so doing, support the small press where art goes to LIVE.

Nothing comes easily in Christopher Cunningham's Thru the Heart of This Animal Life, A measure of Impossible Humor. This is a world where "we are/all damned/to this same/hell," but also where life's small joys and victories teach us to "celebrate" our daily struggles. In "it gets too cold," Cunnngham writes, "I am/satisfied/with/this fabric/I have/woven," and well he should be.
Thru the Heart is a very fine, cohesive collection of accessible, compelling poems that deserves a wide readership.

The poems here are peopled with "the/ones who've/come just short," the kid on the Little League bench, "a bum/in dirty grey pants/and sweat ringed tshirt," and the "old divorced mini skirt" who all, Cunningham explains, are "laboring/under/the/best/of/delusions." However, even in the rather bleak existence of these characters, the poet offers moments of tantalizing redemption. The early morning "man/in a wheelchair" is "rolling the hell/out of his chair" and, most importantly, "smiling." A dead spider helps a couple understand the nature of their "love" in a poem called "how it is." We see in these poems that "it is up to us to make our colors/dance/in this bright grey world," and that there is "no absolution/except that which/we give ourselves."

My favorite poem in this collection is entitled "the lateness of the hour." After seeing some teenagers turned down attempting to buy a bottle of wine in a typical grocery store, we read that "nothing/is/going/to go/exactly/as/you'd like," but even in this world of thwarted desire, the poem ends by noting "the limes/were/beautiful in the light." Herein lies the "measure/of/impossible/humor" that Cunningham reminds us always to maintain.

Thru the Heart concludes appropriately with the existential "the hours that matter," a poem about "how/to remain/upright" despite the "time/spent pushing/against/the stone." It concludes with Cunningham urging us ever so softly to "rejoice," and, yes, Thru the Heart, in its wise and hopeful voice, gives us reasons, however slim, to do just that. These are, like Cunningham's "hours," poems "that matter."

Order your copy here: Nerve Cowboy, P.O. Box 4973 Austin, TX 78765, $6.00

D. Thompson, Naked Knuckle reviewer, Issue #6
211 Rowland Ave.
Modesto, CA 95354

The new Knuckle also features work from Hosho McCreesh (a personal favorite), Don Winter, Michael Estabrook and others. as always, Greg Edwards does a fine job with the presentation, with a great drawing on the cover by Allen Passalaqua. check it out.

more soon...


Blogger j.b said...

got the new NK today as well and noticed that review. great review, cc. congrats. of course, it's warranted.

i've been having some bad luck getting into NK recently. but, we lift ourselves up, dust ourselves off, crack our knuckles and go at it once again.

again, great review. much deserved. people, if you don't have this book, GET IT!

5:19 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

thanks much. I too haven't had much luck with my latest subs to the KNUCKLE, but am shipping another one off today anyway. and one to PEARL and one to REMARK and maybe a couple more.

this is the the unpleasant part of writing: the WORK side of it. the daily bullshit. but it is important if you want to get the words out there.

thanks again.

6:32 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

good luck, brother.

yes, i agree. there was a time when i didn't mind the day to day drudgery of the writing business: the paring down of subs, the envelope addressing, the lame cover letters.
now, i dread it. i've not sent a thing off in over 10 months. i'm sure i will again eventually, but the thought of it just fills me with dread.

anyway, NK is funny with their selections (in my mind) sometimes, but i'm sure people felt the same way about me and remark. when i was running it way back when.

2:02 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

no doubt my man. I sent Greg some DAMN STRONG stuff (or what I thought was...and I can usually nail what an editor is looking for tone-wise for the most part) and he has passed on the last three or four batches.

get yer ass back to submissions son. send those five new poems you sent me to NERVE COWBOY tonight. stuff em in an envelope and ship em off, lame cover letter or not.

this is the meditation. the poem is the party.

6:46 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

the poem is the party.
i like that.

yeah, i meant to send those off the moment you told me i should, but then you know how it goes.

i'll do it, though.

those 2 at NC have been very kind to me over the years. they've been very kind to many of us. good guys.

yeah, i'll do it. it's been too long.

the poem is the party.

as for certain poems being passed, it's funny what some editors like, or decide to take. i have sent some to even NC where i knew they were shoe-ins, but lo and behold, they take some other poem i didn't think would be as likely to get in and pass on the can't-miss. funny.

9:48 AM  

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