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Hot Teen Slut (hi, Googlers). Now that I have your attention, allow me to direct it toward Everything Is Everything, the latest poetry collection from Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. Author of five previous books, of which Hot Teen Slut is one as well as Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, Aptowicz always finds something interesting to say. And that’s why her poetry is so endearing.
Often quirky, funny, and downright bizarre, Everything Is Everything addresses numerous topics via confessional free verse. A poem like “At the Office Holiday Party” is rife with hard-hitting lines: “A gaggle of models comes shrieking into the bar / to further punctuate why I sometimes hate living / in this city. They glitter, a shiny gang of scissors” (30). This poem is rare insofar as it masterfully employs both humor and sadness. In many cases, Aptowicz will either go for the jugular with comedy (“Little Heard True Stories About Benjamin Franklin,” “A Short History of Unusual Fish,” “Crack Squirrels,” “Ten Things I’ve Told People About Dachshunds, Sure that They Cared,” etc.) or tragedy (“If My Mom Had Known About Nebraska,” “Things We Didn’t Talk About,” “Season’s Greetings,” “Friday the Thirteenth,” etc.).
EIE contains copious themes—poetry itself, New York City, her boyfriend, history, presidents, giraffe rape (naturally)—and they are thankfully intermingled with one another instead of completely sectioned off. Granted sometimes poems with similar themes are placed close to others, but I’m still convinced the organization is a pro, because you never know exactly which kind of poem you’ll encounter next. The con is that, like most collections, there are poems that simply don’t do it for me, usually due to subject matter (“11PM in New York City,” “Poetry Reading, Inauguration Night, New York City,” “Every Winter, People Think My Boyfriend Is Elvis Costello”). Frankly, I dislike the boyfriend character—fellow poet Shappy Seasholtz—because of his lack of redeeming qualities. He’s either drunk or complaining, if not both, but that’s partially the fault of Aptowicz’s limited portrayal—an unintentional one, she said in a recent interview.
If you’re looking for a read that enchants in spite of its occasional flaws, buy Everything Is Everything. On the whole, your time and money will be well spent.
Official Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz Web Site
Official Write Bloody Publishing Web Site