While addressing a high school audience about performance poetry, the captain of a national champion slam team once said, "If it doesn't work on paper, it doesn't work," music to the ears of every writing mentor in the country. Lobster with Ol' Dirty Bastard testifies to that philosophy. Though Cirelli's reputation is rooted in the performance area, this collection proves that it is based upon effective writing. As expected, these poems reflect contemporary cityscapes and situations. "When Mike tagged ‘Danielle I/Luv You' in bold blue across the portico/on the 71st St. station on the W Line,/he signed his name and then sprayed/an exclamation point after it…" It is this immediacy, aided by the use of modern street language, often edgy, always colorful, that will appeal to the reader that most poetry never reaches. But these pieces are built on strong images: "I pressed down/on the automatic lock button like it was a neck pulse or a safe/word in Braille," and vibrant comparisons: "…for the flesh to be separated/like Eucharists into bowls and saucers and cups/and then offered to the chefs/who pound the meat flat as wax paper," the backbones of poetic language. And the endings are as implicative and open-ended as all artistic writing should be. "The police sirens/twirled like new galaxies, spun like tiny explosions as the cuffs bit hard." This collection reflects the hip-hop culture that nourishes poetry slams. It's not for everyone, but it addresses a significant audience not likely to be pulled toward literature in a traditional way. Reviewer: Jim Beschta
Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)
Meet the Author
MICHAEL CIRELLI is the Executive Director of Urban Word NYC, an award-winning youth literary arts organization, and also the author of Hip-Hop Poetry & the Classics (Milk Mug 2004), a standards-based teaching curriculum that engages the intersection between hip-hop and "classic" poetry. His first collection of poems, Lobster with Ol' Dirty Bastard (Hanging Loose, 2008), was a NY Times Best Seller for independent presses. He is a veteran of the National Poetry Slam scene, and was the only person to win the Grand Slam Finals in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley all in the same year. His poems have been featured in numerous journals and anthologies, along with articles on his work in Poets & Writers, World Literature Today, Spoken Word Revolution and King Magazine. He was also featured on HBO's Def Poetry Jam and has his MFA in poetry from the New School. His second collection of poems, Vacations on the Black Star Line (Hanging Loose, 2009) is due out this fall. He lives in Brooklyn.