Thursday, July 25, 2013

Animal Husbandry Today - Jamie Sharpe

Today's book of poetry:  Animal Husbandry Today.  Jamie Sharpe.  ECW Press.  Toronto, Ontario.  2012.

(Noun) & (Noun)

Today is the 50th anniversary of this poem
and although the chapbook it was published in
is long out of print it's been kept alive
by backwoods, misinformed, literary perverts,
like Denis Baswitcz of Volga, South Dakota,
who covets any work that references
Tom Brokaw, as this poem does with the line:
"an unwavering beauty, like Brokaw seen
through a haze of lace and barbiturates"
which confounds and arouses Dennis, as he floats
adrift in the sentiment of this convoluted
sentence, because it carries the sweet
longing of his only fantasy not involving
the particulars of this poem's title.


Jamie Sharpe spits out poetic gems like they were coming out the end of Thompson Machine Gun.  As a follow-up read to Stuart Ross and You Exist.  Details Follow., Jamie Sharpe's Animal Husbandry Today asks the reader to make some of the same leaps of faith.  And very much like Mr. Ross - Jamie Sharpe delivers, page after page.



I found a combination lock
lying in the middle of the road

and carried it everywhere, twisting
its dial (14-37-6, 40-29-0, 12-16-07),

hoping for that telltale click
to unlock the mystery


Eight months later: another
lock in my mailbox.

A simple thought settled
heavily within:

the solution to the second
might lie in the first.


Sharpe's Animal Husbandry Today is illustrated with several drawings/collages which may or may not relate to various specific poems.  It was hard for me to tell and truthfully I didn't care.  Each and every one of these delightful poems is so thought provoking and entertaining it hardly matters that I haven't figured it all out yet.

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adiaphorous sand beauties
people suffer only in cinema
barber romance guide
it's always 8:30
carbon allergy controversy
feline division
racist hair removal system
furnace aesthetics
pajama reaction
not plop
"Aqualung" line analysis
the seven-year soup
fork spacing
famous Scrabble battles
old laughter (proximity to)
build your own Dennis
broken romaine hearts
aura markets, 2009
favourable drunk victims
drunk victim concept
a cure for September
the indescribable salad
moustache responsibility


For me, the pleasure in reading these poems is watching a writer like Sharpe skip as though he were a be-bopping Charlie Parker through convention, go where few have the chops, and come out the other side smiling and smelling of roses.  If I say whimsy it might seem to imply a lack of seriousness and that is not what I want, meant.  Sharpe's whimsical voice dances over all manner of terrain as sure-footed as a mountain goat.  And it is a thrill to watch him gracefully jump from ledge to ledge without fear.


After children incessantly
attached a cloud with sticks
the weather decided to end,

talking its life by curling
around the Chrysler Building.

Unaccustomed to compliments,
the building fell.

Workers, unwilling to dig
desks from under rubble,
went to the beach.

It was a beautiful day,
not a cloud in the sky.


In a recent interview Sharpe pays homage to the American poet Ron Padgett and it is no surprise. Sharpe may or may not be a disciple of Padgett, who is a Poet God to many, but he sure lives in the same postal code.

Animal Husbandry Today is a stunning debut, Jamie Sharpe's book can hold it's own on any shelf in the country.

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