Alex Green - In Green’s sun-battered landscape, it’s always the last day of summer, nothing worked out the way it was supposed to, and the optimistic pop songs in the background play a jangly counterpoint to real life disappointments. Neon sunsets, lost girls, grifting tennis instructors, and dazed surfers with bite scars shaped like lightning bolts


Alex Green, Emergency Anthems, Brooklyn Arts Press, 2015.


www.alexgreenbooks.com


“Alex Green’s work blossoms on the page like small explosions. A surf-side Spoon River tinged with Chandler, Dali, and David Lynch. Neon sunsets, lost girls, grifting tennis instructors, and dazed surfers with bite scars shaped like lightning bolts. And through it all, the dark, swift flash of sharks. Serious and hilarious, Green’s pop culture satire lunges with the same deft surprise as those sharks.”     Tom DiCillo

“Green’s short pieces read like secrets, someone sharing a passion, a bias, a humiliation, a love. They crash into your ears like the surf, and you flip the page, awaiting the next beauty, the next set of waves.” - Joshua Mohr

“Alex Green is the uncrowned poet laureate of the last day of Summer and his first book is an absolute stunner—rich with metaphor, confessional honesty, and melancholy narrative. In Green’s sun-battered landscape, it’s always the last day of summer, nothing worked out the way it was supposed to, and the optimistic pop songs in the background play a jangly counterpoint to real life disappointments. In the afterglow, he finds humor, revelation, and that much maligned old measure of poetic meaning: beauty. Green forgoes opaque linguistic ornamentation in favor of coherent narrative, honesty, and lyricism. His gift for sudden and surprising metaphors is unmatched. This is a collection to return to over and over again and one that marks the debut of an important and refreshing poetic voice. Emergency Anthems is incredible, my favorite book of poetry of the last five years. Maybe of any five years.” - Jesse Michaels


I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Alex Green’s just-released poetry collection Emergency Anthems. One, Alex is one of my favorite music writers, at the helm of blog-turned-tumblr “Caught in the Carousel,” the insider’s insider when it comes to music. (You can read a “Still in Rotation” guest post he wrote for me here.) Two, even though I am seriously intimidated by poetry and Alex has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry, Emergency Anthems is a book of prose poems. As in, beautiful morsels of poetry that read like extremely short stories and are even accessible for poetry idiots like me.
Alex’s musical chops inform the entire collection. What I loved about reading this slim little book is how much it replicates the experience of listening for the first time to an album that you are destined to wear out and buy in two additional formats. At first read-through, the stories are a disconnected. A guy plays the Stone Roses for a girl who doesn’t fall for him, a woman writes a book about the history of the parasol, a captain sets his boat on fire. Maybe you like Songs 1 and 3 and 6 immediately, but the rest of the album may take a few more listens.
Then you listen (read) again, and themes emerge, threads that tie the whole work together: sharks, love doomed to miscues, musicians whose bands break up. A third read and you’re picking out which stories thread together, skipping pages to see what happens if you read this poem next to that poem instead of the way they’re sequenced. It’s the book equivalent of playing albums in reverse and seeing if there are any hidden messages. (Fun fact: I just Googled “backmasking” and learned that if you play “Detour Through Your Mind” by the B-52s, you’ll hear “”I buried my parakeet in the backyard. Oh no, you’re playing the record backwards. Watch out, you might ruin your needle.” B-52s, you sassy rascals.)
At the same time, each poem story is a little universe in itself, satisfying even when it suggests there’s more to the story. If that’s not the definition of a perfect song, I don’t know what is. Everyone who reads this will have a favorite poem, a favorite line; mine may be “Air Fountain,” with the line “I hope you come home soon. No one else things I’m funny.”
Emergency Anthems is a fabulous way to add poetry to your music-loving life, and to give yourself fifteen things to ponder while you stare into the middle distance. And I’ll make it easy for you. - Nancy Davis Kho


"Anyone who knows his music writing knows that Alex Green knows music, and in this, his first book of poems, he seems also to know how to make it.  Green’s feel for the wheel—not to mention his insistence on keeping the moving parts clean—offers the reader a usefully clarified ride through the various terrains we live in and for; a grand (but never grandiose) tour of both world and word as they give sadly beautiful rise to one another..." - Graham Foust


"In these strange and unnerving and very funny shorts Alex Green conjures a drowning world where time moves like a moment of a thousand years and you will always be someone small on a stupid red bike. Comic, tender, realistic, and absurd, the stories introduce a cast of curious California characters: the Julliard graduate who plays a lifeguard on TV and wants to make his character complicated but there's only so much he can do with scenes in a hot tub; the model who's struck by lightening and gets really good at yoga; a spider with muscles like an action figure who opens a beatle like an egg.  In this world, figs split open to reveal cities inside, the real problem is living too long, and the champagne you drink goes down cold and sharp like a "world gone to glass, a decade turned to ice." It's an astonishing world rendered in an astonishing voice. "The world wheezes its secrets to a standstill and you stagger into her arms," Green writes. I staggered into the arms of every single page."--Marilyn Abildskov

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