Tuesday, June 22, 2010

See No Evil, Say No Evil, (Dastardly Books), by Matt Betts

Poetry, poetry, poetry. It’s a stuffy, outdated art form with way too many rigid rules performed largely by obnoxious, melodramatic fools. Anyone who believes that can, in the parlance of the great modern-retro Syfy series, frack themselves into oblivion. Preferably with a large fist in their nether eye. There is good poetry out there. Poetry that does not have its head inserted rectally, yet still possessing the intellect and heart to provide continued interest.

Case in point: Matt Betts.

Any fool can write poems about the wind through the trees or the sexual implications of a flea, but he writes about cool stuff like Godzilla and werewolves and robots and super villains and Elvis. That’s right: Elvis. Suck on that, Angelou. Even cooler-er, he writes in a very clear, straightforward and conversational style, without glaring rhyme or metre schemes. And he’s funny. Seriously, maliciously, little-drops-of-piddle-in-the-underpants funny.

The poems on display here take supremely absurd situations (shark vendettas, Godzilla’s girlfriend accusing him of cheating on her, the shopping needs of werewolves, etc.) and shine a very practical and utilitarian light on them. This is a guy who looks at floating cars and imagines them on blocks (tied down to prevent them from floating away) in redneck lawns or sees a superhero’s effect on the lives of everyday cops. Needless to say, his viewpoint is a tad skewed.

Be forewarned, though: Matt’s humor comes from a bit of a bitter place and, like all of the best comic minds, there is an element of the pathetic to every belly laugh. He seems to understand that we laugh because we have to, because our only other option is to collapse into a ball of quivering jelly as we await the end of everything we love. This understanding brings the humanity gleaming from the cracks in his wit. “Poem for a Bar I May Have Frequented in My Youth On the Occasion of it Burning Down” is overflowing with of-hand sci-fi references and silly considerations of alien hotness across the stumbling half-memories of what seems to be a half-wit fool. At the same time, it is a solemn bit of reverie for the joys of a misspent youth, the kind of thing people only bother to think pleasantly about when they see the effects of time.

Matt’s a guy to keep an eye on, especially for those who say they don’t like poetry. He may just change some minds. Even if he doesn’t, the accompanying artwork by Rebecca Whitaker is certainly worth a look. Similarly simple, almost “comicstripy”, but striking and possessed of its own absurdist beauty.

Visit www.mattbetts.com.

Anton Cancre is one of those rotting, pus-filled thingies on the underside of humanity that your mother always warned you about. He has oozed symbolic word-farms onto the pages of Shroud, Sex and Murder and Horrorbound magazines as well as The Terror at Miskatonic Falls, an upcoming poetry anthology by Shroud Publishing and continues to vomit his oh-so-astute literary opinions, random thoughts and nonsense at antoncancre.blogspot.com. No, he won't babysit you pet shoggoth this weekend. Stop asking.