Monday, April 29, 2013

Kevin Reid's Body Voices by David McLean (Book Review)

Body Voices by Kevin Reid
Reviewed by David McLean

Body Voices is a chapbook by Scottish poet Kevin Reid, and it is, in fact, an anatomy of the writer,

 containing a poem about those parts of him that have a poem connected to them. This is maybe a Rabelasian idea, an enumeration of the various parts, and it is done with the gusto and joie de vivre that is appropriate:

Infamous this bald headed egoist
in and out the city of Genitalia
shooting up in any alleyway he can find.
Above all a hard man in the morning
At dawn
Relaxed and sunken
he sleeps on his wrinkled bean bag.
Suddenly with thrust he stands erect
and sets the ball(s) rolling.

Those lines deal, obviously, with the subject of his dick.

Like the real body, the poems are created as a mixture of interiority and relatedness to the external, often expressed as one's history, as in the memory of welts across the buttocks from punishment.

Although there is on poem dedicated to the actual anus, there is, as just noted, one on the fundamental subject of buttocks, which is, I feel, something of an insult to the actual crapper, especially as the foot gets separate poems for heels, feet and toes.

The poems in this chapbook are well worth reading; they have a well-focused bodily intent that expresses itself with great precision:

I meet Genesis and Exodus and I am told
when a hand is placed under the thigh and
the mission held true sterility may not be born;
proof in the womb of Zeus.
Still I walk in their company.

This is of the thighs, and says something that I would not have considered saying of thighs. But, once one has read it, it seems the obvious thing for the writer to have said. Kevin even has a poem of nipples:

Two old pennies; worthless
souvenirs from the womb.
Once I met a woman
who offered me a pleasing price
just to pinch them.

I would find them less “worthless souvenirs” than embarrassing reminders that the standard human design is female; development of a Y chromosome depends on hormonal accident in the environment of the womb and makes them a dread reminder of the fact that the Y chromosome, and the concomitant development of conscience, might never have happened, and we would never have known those joys Kevin describes so eloquently here:

The upshot?
I move quietly towards him.
My penis: a wanker,
a sex junkie who often talks piss.

Buy this book; it's on sale here from Crisis Chronicles Press:

Author bio:

David McLean is from Wales but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there with partner, dogs, cats and computers. In addition to six chapbooks, McLean is the author of three full-length poetry collections: CADAVER’S DANCE (Whistling Shade Press, 2008), PUSHING LEMMINGS (Erbacce Press, 2009), and LAUGHING AT FUNERALS (Epic Rites Press, 2010). His first novel HENRIETTA REMEMBERS is coming in 2014. During 2013 a seventh chapbook SHOUTING AT GHOSTS is forthcoming from Grey Book Press. More information about McLean can be found at his blog

1 comment:

John B. Burroughs said...

Thank you! I love this chapbook.