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In the literary magazine Verse, critic John Findura wrote that the poetry of Jennifer L. Knox "reads like Richard Pryor with an MFA." Anyone who appreciates outrageous comedy intertwined with literary craft, or who is intrigued by such a description of a poet, would enjoy Knox's latest offering, Drunk by Noon.
In this 80-page book of poetry Knox takes readers into the minds of dogs ("Yowl of the Obese Spaniel"), life at the end of the world ("Popular Music After the Apocolypse"), and even into the minds of historical figures ("General Tso"). Full of characters, all a little bit funny and sad, who occupy particular places in the world, Drunk by Noon is both touching and entertaining. There are also moments of great beauty to be found in the book, such as in the poem "One Time the Great Spirit Moved Over North Carolina in the Shape of an Exquisite Ballet," where Knox writes:
The grass is up to their knees and waves
like a waterbed whenever one leaps past.
Stuff flies out of it: little orange things
with wings, white puffs, pinholes
of no color rise from the steaming blades.
The image here sounds familiar, but the words in which Knox encapsulates the scene are unique, her words framing a crystal clear picture for the reader. There are other moments though where Knox takes us to strange places, like in the poem "Wind-Powered":
were tripping their balls off.
They drew eyes
on their knives.
What keeps anyone upright
when the earth's curve's falling
fast as it can, away from
us, in all directions?
And then there are the poems, so off-pattern, that cause one to wonder about Knox's thinking process and where exactly it is that her ideas come from. For an example, one need look no further than "I Wish My Brother George Was Here":
This is a true story: at 64, Liberace
paid to have his 17 year-old lover's face
surgically altered to look just like
Liberace's 17 year-old face so when Liberace
was fucking his young lover he was fucking
Whether funny, sad, or just strange, in Drunk by Noon Knox showcases her ability to take readers on journeys to almost anywhere. As a poet her finger lies firmly on the pulse of the outrageous and strange, two sentiments which always seem to garner attention in the United States. Her work, however, is more than an outlandish stunt; there are some really lovely moments hidden away in these poems, poignant and touching lines wrapped up in bizarre scenarios which most people would probably never think of, moments of impossibility, or mundane instances too often ignored as the everyday. Her work is anything but conventional, and with Drunk by Noon Jennifer L. Knox is putting the excitement back into poetry. SEE ALSO: www.bloofbooks.com
Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, Nate Logan is a contributing writer to LAS who will be going to Minnesota in the fall to pursue a MFA in poetry. He hopes to develop some weird accent as a result of his time in the North.
See other articles by Nate Logan.
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