Michael Waters,
Darling Vulgarity
(BOA, 2006)

Michael Waters writes as though everything is a poem. The opening poem in Darling Vulgarity is about killing time in the Ambelokipi district of Greece while his wife tutors a native in English. He follows that one with a work based on Benes Knupfer's painting, "Fawns Fleeing Before an Automobile."

Family is often the focus of his poems and he centers on those small moments that reveal so much of who we are: his small daughter uses an obscenity in front of his uptight fiancee and even as Waters corrects his daughter, he says:

"Bad word," I wagged my finger
as my daughter looked chastened, my lover eased back
into our perfect future,
"But," -- I couldn't help myself -- "You used it correctly."

Several poems are about other poets and Waters uses them to show us aspects of them we may not have seen before and how they affected him. His prose poem on meeting Allan Ginsberg leads him into a memory of a summer job he had when he was 16 writing pornographic books, a job that lasted until his mother found the manuscript he was working on. He then segues back to meeting Ginsberg who invites him and his girlfriend back to his apartment for soup. In the close of the poem, he wonders if "Ginsberg's benediction had somehow countered my mother's unwitting curse."

His Robert Frost poem takes a different tack; it's called "Making Love at the Frost Place" and that exactly what it's about.

Michael Waters is a very good poet and this is a very good book. Read it.

by Michael Scott Cain
25 November 2006

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