Staff Book Reviewer Jessica Maybury is a recent graduate of the MA in Writing programme from NUI, Galway, Ireland. Her work has appeared in Nth Word, Word Riot and Prick of the Spindle, among other places. Her Web site is jmaybury.blogspot.com.
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Sandy McIntosh’s resume is impressive: he has an MFA from Columbia University and a PhD from the Union Institute and University. He has worked as a college professor and a graphic designer. He has published nine poetry collections, three prose books and was instrumental in the development of three pieces of computer software. All of this is irrelevant, however, in face of the fact that this is not a very good collection.
If you feel like meandering down the long and treacherous path of mediocrity and tedium, read this book. If you have read it and want the two hours of your life back, I know exactly how you feel.
There is, however, one good thing about this collection of narrative poetry, and that is the title poem, “Ernesta, in the Style of the Flamenco.” This could be because I have a thing for classical piano, or it could be that it was good—it speaks loudly for the case against the collection that I am unable to tell which. In this poem, he makes liberal and interesting use of line breaks, switching from the more sedate ‘standard’ line breaks and the imaginative line breaks of the late work of William Carlos Williams. He also shifts between literary forms and voices in an easy and natural way. It makes me sad to think that the man who wrote this narrative poetic piece was also the same person who wrote the rest of them.
However. However, however. Even though this collection tries in many ways to be avant-garde and fails, there are good points. I spoke before about the line breaks and blurring of literary forms and voices. These in themselves are not enough to save the collection but are certainly enough to make for some re-reading. At one point he uses a database style table, a list of “237 More Reasons to Have Sex” (although it gets old fast), and dips into different languages in a Joycean way that I find endearing, even though I cannot speak Spanish.
All in all, I’m afraid, don’t bother. Sleep-inducing.
Official Sandy McIntosh Web Site
Official Marsh Hawk Press Web Site