RARA-AVIS: Re: Pulp Poetry

From: Richard Moore (moorich@aol.com)
Date: 15 Jul 2008

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    I'm rather fond of poetry that inhabits our corner of the world. One of my favorite book of poetry that fits the HB/noir world is SHOOTING RATS AT THE BIBB COUNTY DUMP by David Bottoms (William Morrow 1980). Bibb County, Georgia includes Macon and in the 1970s when these poems were written, it was a happening place with the Allman Brothers Band,
     Capricorn Records, and a mayor named "Machine Gun" Ronnie Thompson.

    Robert Penn Warren said Bottoms was "...a strong poet and much of his strength emerges from the fact that he is temperamentally a realist. In his vision the actual world is not transformed but illuminated, and in his language the tang of actuality whets his compelling rhythms."

    Well, we rather like the "tang of actuality" ourselves. Here is the title poem:

    Loaded on beer and whiskey, we ride to the dump in carloads to turn our headlights across the wasted field, freeze the startled eyes of rats against mounds of rubbish.

    Shot in the head, they jump only once, lie still like dead beer cans. Shot in the gut or rump, they writhe and try to burrow into garbage, hide in old truck tires, rusty oil drums, cardboard boxes scattered across the mounds, or else drag themselves on forelegs across our beams of light toward the darkness at the edge of the dump.

    It's the light they believe kills. We drink and load again, let them crawl for all they're worth into the darkness we're headed for.

    Talk about noir poetry!! That last stanza is brilliant.

    Bottoms had a novel out in 1987 ANY COLD JORDAN was teaching at Georgia State University in Atlanta while continuing to play guitar in various Country and Western bands. He had a second novel EASTER WEEKEND out in 1990, which despite its Judy Garlandish title dealt with kidnapping and murder. Not sure where he's at these days.

    Richard Moore

    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "David Rachels" <RachelsDA@...> wrote:
    > Perhaps this will bring some of you a little pleasure . . . I have
    started a modest blog that is a
    > weekly tribute to the poetry of pulp/noir writing. If interested,
    please take a peek at
    > http://pulppoem.blogspot.com/
    > Best,
    > David
    > (now posting from a new account/email address)

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