Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shuffle and Breakdown

Cody Walker should be made poet laureate of Saturday Night Live. Go out and buy his book of poems, Shuffle and Breakdown. He’s a really funny fellow. He recently read at McNally Jackson Books on Prince Street. Walker’s a voluble personality who looks bemused by his own utterances, as if the words had just popped out unexpectedly, like a kid with a form of Tourette’s that makes him involuntarily cry out “Mama!” in the classroom. He has turned this element of uncontrollable self-surprise into poems. He read a poem with expletives in front of an audience that included his infant daughter, explaining that he wouldn’t be able to use the same words when she grew up. He read a poem called "Chickenless Pulled Chicken" that a publisher mistakenly thought was about jerking off. Like a lot of poets, he writes about other poets—in this case Kenneth Koch. You don’t have to work when you're listening to Walker read. Not that difficult art is bad, but sometimes there’s a place for play and fun. Cody Walker is perhaps the perfect example of Homo ludens intellectualis—intellectual man at play.

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