Look, I don't read enough poetry, which is an endless lament in these posts. And I'm willing to unequivocally accept that reading poetry may elevate one's sense of peace and self-actualization, regardless of how poorly it reflects on my reading habits and mindfulness. I'm not a heathen mind you, I've read numerous poetry collections in recent years, including those by Seth Berg, Shaindel Beers, John McCarthy, Jim Warner, David Tomas Martinez, Jason Fisk, Lisa Fay Coutley, Dave Newman, Sass Brown and Rachel Slotnick. But these are people I know and love, read with, drank with, hung with, and to consume their words is a gift, and a means for getting to know them better and honor their craft. I share this because I'm embarrassed, and I want to do better, but also because when I do read poetry and share the experience with you, you can know that while biased, and yo, everything here is biased, I'm not a critic, I'm a consumer of experiences, art particularly, and blessed to be able to do so. So when I share these riffs and commentaries they come from a place of love and excitement and the possibility of exposing those that move me to a wider audience. Which brings us to the Greg Santos and his collection Blackbirds. It feels like I've known Santos as long as I've reveled in the promotion of words and hoped to bring them to the wider world. We published "A Love Poem for Shelley by Hulk," at This Zine Will Change Your Life back in 2009, and to find love and the Hulk in the same place seemed like a revelation:
Your brown hair ripples
like Captain Marvel cape
in spring breeze.
THUMP THUMP THUMPS
for you more thunderously
than mighty Thor hammer.
Your pale skin glistens
like milky white Space Ghost
costume beneath stars.
Hulk waits in moonlight for you
so we may smash side by side
in search of mythical
green songbird called love.
In 2011, we published "Hooray:"
Yes, the world
will not have ended in 2012
as the Mayans predicted
but sadly nor will
hoverboards be en vogue.
The sun will continue to die,
magnificent tiny creatures
with feelers and luminescent bodies
we’ve never even discovered
will have gone extinct
under our noses,
but on the plus side
things will be sleeker,
and more expensive.
More recently, 2014, "Clickbait:"
How might the human face look in 100,000 years?
I must keep telling myself, writing is lucky work.
Despite the headlines, life is good.
I like how the internet is starting to look.
Have you ever thought how many brains there are in the world?
I’m not just talking about humans.
For the love of God will someone please amuse me.
The city is quieter than you think.
You are a child in a house that is warm.
Climb larger and larger mental states.
You’re doing better than you think.
Still so in love.
Some may ask why.
It’s just something new to try.
Man explored the typewriter
ribbon and something clicked.
"Clickbait" can be found in Blackbirds and so we come full circle. Blackbirds is about love, but also family, immigration, culture, and pop culture, and violence. It is then, a Santos joint, and so really, this is not a post about poetry, my poor reading of poetry, or even a riff on Blackbirds, though it's a wonderful, sentient piece of work, humane and knowing, but a celebration of Santos himself. Now I don't know Santos all that well, I know his work, but what I read, and see, is that he is a supporter of the arts and artists, a teacher and mentor, a father and family man, a voice for the oppressed, unseen and unheard and advocate for mental health. He's also Canadian. So, there's all of that, and that's a lot of goodness and literary citizenship, and I want to know more. I want to know it all, and I hope to get him on This Podcast Will Change Your Life soon, because after ten years, it's time for us to hang and talk and find out what comes next. Will any of this change your life? Of course. All of it will.