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Those Godawful Streets of Man by Stephen Bett reviewed

 Today's book of poetry:
Those Godawful Streets of Man: A Book Of Raw Wire In The City.  Stephen Bett.  Blazevox[Books].  Buffalo, New York.  2015.

Stephen Bett is damned sure that none of us is going to get out of this city unscathed.  Those Godawful Streets of Man: A Book Of Raw Wire In The City is a little light when it comes to optimism, this book is a sneer from a mouth full of broken teeth.

Those Godawful Streets of Man (64th St.)

Then there was cousin
Billy (Edinburg)
down the shop
for smokes

Wife & baby daughter
at home for five
minutes

Twenty years later
detective tracked
him in NYC

Heavy-duty
abandonment,
huh

And it's all
about cities
(& borders)

And people really
fucking each
other up

It's cruel as
all get out,
& someone
ought to
die for it

Or lose
heart
(at the
least)

...

In Bett's city someone just played the joker against any chance of a winning hand.  People smear themselves like bloodstains all over their attempts to find love. 

Those that do find love discover just how flawed love can be.  Those Godawful Streets of Man... is an illustrated fall from grace, one gut punch at a time.



___________



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Un/Wired by Stephen Bett reviewed in Subterranean Blue Poetry

 

Un/Wired, post-modernist Canadian Satire from the West Coast.


Byline: Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Un/Wired

Author: Stephen Bett

Publisher: BlazeVOX

Date of Publication: 2016

Pages: 121


“Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life.”
- from Dropkick Me Jesus by Bobby Bare


Un/Wired is the 18th book of poetry by celebrated Canadian Poet Stephen Bett, is a distinctly Vancouver, West Coast Canadian event, a Poet’s sid criminy. He has been widely published internationally and his personal papers are being archived at Simon Fraser University. He is a newly retired college professor and lives in British Columbia with his wife Katie. This is the third book of poetry This Writer has reviewed for Poet Bett, the first two being Sound Off: a book of jazz and Breathing Arizona.

This book is largely a satire on culture, a sendup of the common man, the unthinking, the state of the unconscious violence of the Western World that feeds into the monied corporate elite. As if the common man is sitting alone in the middle of a vacant lot wondering what just happenned. Un/Wired breaks new ground, trashing sacred cows with a wink and a promise.

The Poet’s roots are in the protest movement of the Hippies and the 1960’s with the Beat Poet’s coming to the fore. In the satire pieces it is as if he is wearing a mask, portraying some good ol’ boy in the shop, somewhat reminiscent of a more sophisticated Charlie Farquharson, a comedic character invented by Canadian Comedian/Writer/Actor Don Harron and portrayed on stage and in books.

“Corporate Verbs On Hold

“We are leveraging our core competencies
to meet our customers [sic] needs [sic!].
Anon.

Can you ballpark that low-end little hanky-pank toy for me?
Yes, done, & I’ll stick it up yr third base.

Can you dialogue on this lefty-lucy screwed up itsy-bitsy nutball for me?
Surely can, I’ll break it down in threads & boot it over your discretely stained lover-lie logbook, little puss.

Could you dis ambiguate this foamy wet freakin’ frontal screen for me?
Yes, surely I’ll spank it right through your wide open tailgate, little beav’.

Will you facilitate this toxic little bo-jingle-jangle wrangled wrinkle for me?
Yo (& yo again) I’ll wax your face up stiff & botox your wee mouth shut.

Won’t you pul-ease ideate this knotty smokin’ cracker-jacked idee fixe for me?
No can do, I’ll just toss it in your thought-box to ripple rot, little bindipper . . . “

The Poet plays with language, sometimes inventing new words, tangles and repeats words, dangles words in escarpment, an event. Most of the poetry is short tight sentences, minimalist, turning the words in on themselves with an edge of humor, a sawed off shotgun delivery, a projection of the violent culture. A jazz beat. “a bar, a bar, a bar . . . a bar harbour”

“Brought to You By . . .

You use a product to wash out the grey
you get laid

You eat a slo-fry soul food
you get laid

You buy a so badass Euro-zone car
you get laid

Drink a snappy nafty micro brewski
you get laid

Swallow a lil’ lite blue pill
you get laid (repeatedly)

You watch co’mmercial after co’mmercial
you get laid (& laid)

Jesus,
you get
fecking
laid”

The book has a fantastical blue, black and white cover with binary numbers. It is divided into 4 chapters, “Pre-Wired”, “Soft-Wired”, “Hard-Wired” and “Un-Wired”. Reading the book cover to cover, it starts slow and builds into a crescendo. Beginning with satire and then in the last chapter some love poetry that highlights the emotional violence of having had too many lovers. Themes include, his grown children, his wife, the Internet, gun violence, corporate America, jazz music, American politics and culture, world politics and more.

There are at least 3 poems that touch on gun violence in the United States, a send up of the not too smart politics/attitudes that perpetuates a war culture, “Some Forms of Insanity are Instantly Insaner than Others”, “A-muricondo.edu” and “April 12th Another Day in Cleveland”. In the United States a significant number of people are murdered by gun violence; in 2013, 33,169 died by gun violence (excluding death by legal intervention).

“Some Forms of Insanity are Instantly Insaner than Others

The NRA back in the dark
& dusky shadows again
after the latest massacre
in the U.S. of A Minus
(twenty 5 & 6 year olds):

Guns don’t kill people;
People kill people!

Here’s your upgraded semi-
automatic 100 round per
nano-second bumper sticker
for folksy woodsmen &
wigged-out 2nd Amendment
minutemen pro-tectors:

People with guns kill people,
stupid

And for all the young & wacked-out
gun totin’ American-o desperad-o
shooters out there let’s update
another lil’ “teacher certified”
Sartrified bumper sticker
for y’all . . .

Hell is – other people’s
children”

I once had a conversation with a friends older brother when in high school that went something like this, I said, “Who needs to buy a gun, if they’re not hunters, hunting animals, who would need a gun?” He said, “People buy guns because they’re going to kill people . . come on” and he looked at me as if I was stupid. And I looked at him in my naive green teenage youth and thought he was insane and indeed if this was true the world was insane. “what did this mean?” Thirty-five years later with a better understanding of the cultural malaise and “the cult of ego”, I have a better understanding of why, but I still think the violence of the United States is insane.

A subtle, raw edge, jazz to jazz in the N.A. street. A fantastical work of post-modernist satire exposing the bones of the violent Western malaise in an exciting evolution of the Beat Poet tradition, Un/Wired by Stephen Bett.

Read the whole review here 

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Un/Wired by Stephen Bett Now Available!

In this, his 18th book of poetry, internationally acclaimed Canadian poet Stephen Bett is back to working the sassy, edgy margins of social satire. Divided into four sections, this book opens with humor; turns to soft-edge and then to hard-edge, wicked, hilarious satire of our vapid monoculture; and concludes with a section of poems bringing in the angst of it all.


PRAISE FOR STEPHEN BETT’S MOST RECENT BLAZEVOX BOOK,
Those Godawful Streets of Man: A Book of Raw Wire in the City:

“I love what Stephen Bett is doing with language in his latest opus…

Bett’s his own man here. He’s absorbed the lessons of the Objectivists, Beats, Black Mountain, New York and San Francisco schools; the Canadian Tish poets’ experiments with vernacular phonological phrasing in open form; the studious avoidance of the ‘burnished urn’ Modernist reliance on myth, metaphor, and intellectual conceits, dense allusion, tight boxed containers.

Not that Bett’s poems aren’t marvelously allusive; the bric-à-brac of pop culture is all here: movies, cell phones, the Web, selfies, Tweets and all manner of squawks from the Interface. But there is nothing overtly confessional and the stitches and strophes are utterly comfortable and companionable…

This is minimalism for readers who like their poems fat: rich, but sans impasto or ornament. A book of raw wire in the city: edgy, tense, sharp, angular, dangerous… .

At the heart of the book…is the story of a dissolving relationship, the man too earnest and accepting; the woman raging and fading into madness. But nothing is cloying or mawkish or sentimental, or even confessional; instead we shift easily from a sort of Special Victims Unit episode of macro family skeleton news to deeply personal, eviscerating sorrow―with grace and elan.

Musically, rhythmically, the poet is adroit, fluid, as graceful as Sonny Rollins on a good day. You can feel those tight turns, drops, and ascents as you might on a carnival ride; Bett doesn’t waste a word, but pastes you to the back of your vernacular cage. You are in for the ride.

Line for line, strophe for strophe, image for image, Stephen Bett’s latest delivers the news, along with the tart taste of jazz and blues.”

—Richard Stevenson, Pacific Rim Review of Books

Those Godawful Streets of Man takes an unapologetic, unflinching look into the back alleys and poorly lit areas of the human condition….You will find a voice that is braver than many, and a view of the world that is beautiful in its starkness.”

—Stuart Gill, Front Porch Journal

For reviews of all his books, and for recent interviews, visit stephenbett.com

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet. His earlier work is known for its sassy, edgy, hip… caustic wit―indeed, for the askance look of the serious satirist… skewering what he calls the ‘vapid monoculture’ of our times. His more recent books have been called an incredible accomplishment for their authentic minimalist subtlety. Many are tightly sequenced book-length ‘serial’ poems, which allow for a rich echoing of cadence and image, building a wonderfully subtle, nuanced music. Bett follows in the avant tradition of Don Allen’s New American Poets. Hence the mandate for Simon Fraser University’s “Contemporary Literature Collection” to purchase and archive his “personal papers” for scholarly use. He is recently retired after a 31-year teaching career largely at Langara College in Vancouver, and now lives with his wife Katie in Victoria, BC.


Book Information:

· Paperback: 124 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-253-2

 $16
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Un/Wired by Stephen Bett Book Preview

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Those Godawful Streets of Man by Stephen Bett reviewed in Pacific Rim Review of Books (10th Anniversary Edition)

 

Those Godawful Streets of Man by Stephen Bett
reviewed in Pacific Rim Review of Books (10th Anniversary Edition)
Reviewed by Richard Stevenson


I love what Stephen Bett is doing with language in his latest opus. I call it word jazz: poetry generated as much by sound association as image association; what Charles Olson called Projective Verse—proprioceptive poetry that lives in the moment and leaps playfully through word association nets not so much to create a thing, as to arrest the movement of the mind as it moves through microcosms and macrocosms of the cityscape, reflecting on and refracting what the poet finds.

Let me lay my cards out. I’ve been in a long love affair with English language haikai poetry (haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, zappai, renku); Kerouacian “pops” and Ginsberg’s “American Sentences”; trad to avant garde ‘ku; imagism; found poetry; realist and neosurrealist styles. So, after a bout of jazz poetry and performance in homage to Miles Davis, and performing cryptocritter/alien poems at kidlit conferences and local bandshell/gazebos (Frank Zappa for Tweens) with my jazz/rock troupe Sasquatch, I’ve been getting low and digging wit, irony, humour, epiphanies, bumper snicker spam-ku, scifaiku, for a good ten years or more.

Hence, I love the paradox of the so-called “wordless poem,” erasure, minimalism in all its modes, modern and post-modern. Bett’s his own man here. He’s absorbed the lessons of Donald Allen’s New American poets—the Objectivists, Beats, Black Mountain, New York and San Francisco schools, etc.; the Canadian Tish poets’ experiments with vernacular phonological phrasing in open form; the studious avoidance of the “burnished urn” Modernist reliance on myth, metaphor, and intellectual conceits, dense allusion, tight boxed containers.

Not that Bett’s poems aren’t marvelously allusive; the bric-à-brac of pop culture is all here: movies, cell phones, the Web, selfies, Tweets and all manner of squawks from the Interface. But there is nothing overtly confessional and the stitches and strophes are as comfortable and companionable as a Tetley Tea bag or
new silk pyramid of the latest craft tea. The allusions are to pop culture events: post-modern texts, not obscure texts. The reader is invited in—to squalid coldwater flats of yesteryear newly converted for the addicted and down-and-out of the lower east side of Vancouver, with sparking bare wires spitting between poles, maybe—but, no matter: the urban experience touches everyone and the reader will supply his or her own meta-narratives where the minimalist directive of the poet’s overarching narrative allows.

This is minimalism for readers who like their poems fat: rich, but sans impasto or ornament. A book of raw wire in the city: edgy, tense, sharp, angular, dangerous— in the electrified, computerized grids of cityscape we inhabit, and in the boxes we place each other in and peer out from; pole to pole down the dirty low-rent boulevard, in back alleys, out to suburbia, as we attempt to touch through wires and wireless interfaces, en face, live and in person in an age of celebrity cast-off culture and relationships.


At the heart of the book and appearing late in the accumulating narrative—the overall alienation we 21st-century zombie citizens feel facing globalization and its feral children—is the story of a dissolving relationship, the man too earnest and accepting; the woman raging and fading into madness. But nothing is cloying or mawkish or sentimental, or even confessional; instead we shift easily from a sort of Special Victims Unit episode of macro family skeleton news:


Then there was cousin
Billy (Edinburg)
down the shop for smokes
Wife and baby daughter
at home for five
minutes


READ THE WHOLE REVIEW in the Pacific Rim Review of Books (10th Anniversary Edition)

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Those Godawful Streets of Man by Stephen Bett Now Available!

 “This is an edgy, raw, harsh, gritty book about the contemporary cityscape—its block buildings; its loose, naked, spitting live wires; its plugged-in populace. A place where Borderliners, leeches, zombies, and drains fight it out over a man and a woman locked in a death grip.”


Praise for Track This by Stephen Bett


Bett’s poetry are offerings: they expose themselves like nude paintings, providing only the essentials and inviting the reader to extrapolate interpretation based on the subjective reading. This is authentic minimalist poetry. The words are so modestly beautiful in their arrangement upon the white page while showing an emotional intelligence within the micro-text. Poetic minimalism is notoriously difficult to master, especially on a topic as complex as human relationships. Yet [this work] manipulates the sparse format so aptly that the outcome is a poignant expression of the tensions that exist between two people. At times, the collection demonstrates the understated gentleness of the English language with a human voice that makes the poetry so accessible to the layperson (while it beckons multiple readings from the widely read). To satisfy both types of readers is an incredible accomplishment.

—REM magazine, New Zealand


You are on what first nations call a vision quest. Track the process and trust the signs. Look for totems. All decisions must come from the biggest part of yourself...in the epic form… of books you are living.

―Michael Kenyon (poet, novelist, editor)

Stephen Bett has had fifteen previous books of poetry published: Breathing Arizona: A Journal (Ekstasis Editions, 2014); Penny-Ante Poems (Ekstasis Editions, 2013); Sound Off: a book of jazz (Thistledown Press, 2013); Re-Positioning (Ekstasis Editions, 2011); Track This: a book of relationship (BlazeVOX Books, 2010); S PLIT (Ekstasis Editions, 2009); Extreme Positions: the soft-porn industry Exposed (Spuyten Duyvil Books, 2009); Sass ’n Pass (Ekstasis Editions, 2008); Three Women (Ekstasis Editions, 2006); Nota Bene Poems: A Journey (Ekstasis Editions, 2005); Trader Poets (Frog Hollow Press, 2003); High-Maintenance (Ekstasis Editions, 2003); High Design Refit (Greenboathouse Books, 2002); Cruise Control (Ekstasis Editions, 1996); Lucy Kent and other poems (Longspoon Press, 1983).

His work has also appeared in over 100 literary journals in Canada, the U.S., England, Australia, New Zealand, and Finland, as well as in three anthologies, and on radio.

His “personal papers” have been purchased by the Simon Fraser University Library, and are, on an ongoing basis, being archived in their “Contemporary Literature Collection” for current and future scholarly interest.

He lives in Vancouver.

For reviews of his books, please see stephenbett.com


Book Information:

· Paperback: 112 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-200-6

$16

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Those Godawful Streets of Man by Stephen Bett Book Preview

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Photos on flickr