Collaboruptions: Mini-Review of Interruptions
Collaboruptions: a Mini-Review of Interruptions by Jessy Randall and Daniel M. Shapiro
Jessy Randall was kind enough to send me Interruptions, the book of collaborative poems she and Daniel M. Shapiro wrote together, published in 2011 by Pecan Grove Press. These two poets are as delightful together in the book as in our EIL interview! Telling us about their process, Daniel said then, “My favorite collaborations are the ones in which I don’t know who wrote what.”
And I’d have to say that there were times reading when I lost track of both poets, the speaker, and any “back and forth” or “push and pull” dynamic and experienced a kind of genderless or double-gendered voice.
That happens in an interesting, exciting, and gradual way in the poem “Exes,” where you’d think I might keep the speakers straight…ha!…but no! It begins:
Years later, one of yours won big money
on a TV game show. He bought a house
to hold his ego. Its windows shattered,
spilling the stuff neighbors complain about.
One summer, you dated a girl whose name meant
“love, love.” She bored me past reason,
but simulated something in driver’s ed.
Don’t you just hate those exes, and feel these two writers protecting and defending each other against them? And also being still secretly sort of in love with each other? This continues in mixed hilarity and passion until we get all tangled up:
Once you had two in one night,
though they didn’t know it.
And, truly, at this point, I did not know who was who!
Jessy and Daniel are hilarious, full of surprises, and mostly in agreement in these short poems, as in the first stanza of “Let’s Agree.”
When they say, “We’ll have to agree
to disagree,” they’re just trying
to sound clever. Sadly they remain
disagreeing jackasses, unlike us.
I also love this very short prose poem:
Everything He Said
Everything he said sounded like a lie. His mumbled stories left us numb, as if we’d just read a book of fabric samples.
I can just see those pages turning, fabric sample after fabric sample. That lying jackass!
You see what happens. You start reading Interruptions and you start talking and thinking like Jessy and Daniel. Next thing you know, I’ll be looking around to see what’s an animal and what isn’t, as in this poem:
A bathtub is not an animal.
A glass is not an animal.
Air is not an animal.
Remembering my grandmother is not an animal.
An emotion is not an animal.
But these things may bite or have claws.
Indeed, funny as they are, some of these poems also bite or have claws or a poetic undercurrent of melancholy and profundity. That is, they do everything a poem can do but not pretentiously and not with a bunch of fancy obfuscation. As Kristofer Collins says in Pittsburgh Magazine, “Randall and Shapiro are on a mission here to return poetry to the general reader, and conversely to return the language and experience of everyday people to poetry itself.”
They can also gently mock poetry, those who fear poetry, and themselves, as in “Scary Poem.” It begins with an epigraph that quotes the Colorado Springs Gazette as saying, “[We are living] in an era when many people fear poetry.”
Couplets might as well be vampire fangs
sinking into the pale necks of virgins.
Just the sight of lines with end-stops
can cause mass hysteria. Beware
certain villanelles after dark.
We are, of course, silly to fear poetry. Poets are just like the rest of us, aren’t they?
When poets have a fire drill
all the poets all over the world
have to stop what they are doing
and go outside.
See? This poem continues in this delightful way, and you will have a lot of fun with Interruptions. You can get it here!