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Book Review: one size fits all by Daniel Borzutzky

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Daniel Borzutzky’s echap, one size fits all, published by Scantily Clad Press, opens with a dramatic bang of phallic imagery with, “In My Numb heart a Priack of Misgiving.” References to Milton seep out through Borzutzky’s dry sardonic humor: “The best poet in our town lives in a cage at PetsRUs and says fuck the son of a bitch every time a customer walks by.” the prick of misgiving being the parrot at the pet store repeating, “fuck the son of a bitch….”

“Crazy Jane Finds a Dog” is engaging and awesome: “looking onto this land of piss, I exalt … my own lethargy …  Hide with the white bitch in the mud, praying not to be devoured.” We have the alchemy of trash and sewage. The ending, “Now that I take care of the white bitch, I have gained the respect of my family,” proves you don’t have to be a winner to win.

Borzutzky’s poetry is a strange exotic and eclectic conglomerate of words. I read and wonder, who is this dude? Sometimes I understand what he is saying from one sentence to the next and other times I sit there wondering if I have any idea. Sometimes a sentence follows the thoughts and sequence of the one before; sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t exactly know what to do, so I follow along because he’s strange enough to make me want to. Although I read the lines in bewilderment I laugh and feelings are aroused. 

I laugh at certain lines then go back to the last line trying to figure how it fits. I read and reread “In My Numb heart a Prick of Misgiving.”

“If you cannot sex this poem then listen harder.
The wind has fallen.”

I visualize the scenario from his poems with his unique illustrations and I treasure his concepts like the one discussed above in “Crazy Jane”; you don’t have to be a winner to win. From the title poem, “one size fits all,” I see: “The poet forgot to shake off his penis and pee dripped on the manuscript that he submitted to the 2007 University of Iowa Poetry Prize” combines poetic masturbation with pissing in the wind. Sometimes you may as well scratch your ass instead of your head for all the good anything will do you in society’s grip.

Mr. Borzutzky has trapped me and remade me in his image. This collection is written for the poet exorcising familiar demons in spurts of more traditional views and references. The general notion being if you haven't lived it how could you possibly write about it and if you did live it would you be crazy enough to write it and if you did write it would anybody understand or read it … right? I laugh and go back to what I read before. I think that could be me, that is me he’s talking about not only himself. I relate to the artist’s lament about how the industry prostitutes ethics.

“The problem, said the critic, remains one of imagination and its insistence on the distinction between thought and action.” We all have to live with criticism, poets especially, since strong and different works always raise suspicions and hard penises. “Poetry lives here, she replied, but he will chop you up and kill you, and then he’ll cook you and eat you,” along with attachable and detachable prosthetics to demonstrate how we either give or shed an artificial piece of ourselves — very unique imagery and this is what makes Borzutzky more cool. A daring risk-taker appeals to me. “I vomit a poem onto a stack of bloody cows and win a Pushcart prize.” I do understand — I think I do…

“Budget Cuts” makes a similar point: “And the semen are in their testicles and Hamlet is a faceless robot who is president of the rotary,” and I can’t say why it makes me smile. The point is poets are poor – we don’t make money off of what we love to do. Pity…

one size fits all closes with “Suddenly I was old, and had no one to fucking talk to,” the classic death of the poet. Borzutzky outright admits that poetry becomes the property of the reader once published …woohoo :), I like that! “I do not own this poem; it is the responsibility of the poetic community.” And, “If you can’t feel the tickle on your genitals that this poem provides, please masturbate safely within the confines of rubber walls and maybe then size won’t matter.”

What I like the most is that Daniel Borzutzky does not fit the mold. I like his differences, the folly and play in his voice, his humor and sarcasm; I feel his triumph and growth develop. The voice of Marguerite Duras mixes with Milton and “the colored girls go.” I can ask for no more; I’m getting all the visceral stimulation I need.

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