Too Obscene, ed. Jeremiah Walton

Too Obscene, ed. Jeremiah WaltonThe works in Too Obscene are united by their portrayal of those parts of life usually deemed unpleasant or ugly. However the poems themselves show that, like the sheen of an oil slick, filthy and beautiful are not mutually exclusive.

Too Obscene’s mission is to provide a home to poetry and writing deemed “too obscene” for publication by other presses and blogs. This does not mean that poems that said “fuck” every other line were accepted. Too Obscene saught(sic) writing, obscene in nature, that had literary merit, not poorly exececuted(sic) shock value.

-About Too Obscene

This collection of 25 poems contains work by Eric Karl Anderson, Holden Baker, Vincent William Brady, Nathan Burley, Nathan Christensen, Jackie Cope, Bill Dozer, Scott Emerson, Myriam Gurba, Colin James, klipschutz, Colin Lichen, Brian Rosenberger, Ben John Smith, Jeff Walt, Zarina Zabrisky, Ali Znaidi along with art by Karina Bush and Jon Henry.

As with other Nostrovia publications these poems are modern voices, filled with jagged pulsing rhythms, and designed to be spoken loudly not read in silence. This rejection of poetry as a genteel pursuit is clearest in Of Anger & Phosphate Vomit which moves beyond free verse into a new language where white space forms words, cased in future punctuation.

With bodily functions being one of the most concealed and euphemised aspects of polite society it is no surprise to find the lavatorial squatting throughout the collection. This politeness is most clearly satirised in Literature of the Latrine, which takes the reader through a series of social interactions where a toilet is used for anything but its intended purpose.

Equally prominent is our abhorrence of talking openly about sex: He Aimed For The Bull’s-eye uses slang references to anal sex to build a world of colour and music, while the detachable genitalia of Fire Drill at the Sexual Health Clinic reminds the reader of how we objectify sexual behaviour rather than treat it as a part of our personalities and actions.

This separation of parts of ourselves is explored further in both Man Seeking Nail and Mermaid which take the opposing viewpoints of judgemental observer and secret performer but both show how acts are disgusting or not based on our assumptions and contexts and not the acts themselves.

The collection is, as the Introduction suggests, more than just bodily functions. Poems such as Crucified For Cthulhu and Gilbert & George set pop culture figures among traditional images then challenge the reader to explain why something that moves them is offensive.

I enjoyed the use of language in this collection, and was challenged to face my own unconscious prejudices. I would recommend it to readers who are ready to examine their boundaries and preconceptions.

I received a free advance copy of this collection. It is now available from through Payhip and Scribd.

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