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Carpet (2012): Monkey Brains and Donkey Doos

Andrew Olah, Carpet (CreateSpace, 2012)

carpet

With a color scheme like that, it’s a carpet straight out of the seventies. photo credit: createspace.com

Seventy dollars. As I write this review, the list price on the print edition of Andrew Olah’s Carpet—the Kindle version seems to have (thankfully) disappeared—is $69.99. And in case that’s not ridiculous enough on its face when the majority of single-author collections published by major and academic presses run about $16-18 these days for 72-108pp. of poetry, I’ll echo the admonitions of another reviewer who was unlucky enough to pick up a few of Olah’s books free in Kindle form:

– there are ads. Obviously, $70 isn’t enough for a book of poems. (And I don’t believe for one second that this guy got DirecTV to pay for ad space in this book, for what it’s worth.)

– There are blank pages for your own notes.

– There is an awful lot of what Olah terms “Image Art”.

– While it doesn’t count in the “filler” category as the things above do, this book, too, was printed in landscape, and each page is cut roughly in half. If you’re reading on, say, Kindle for PC, except a nasty crick in your neck.

When all of this is said and done, what you are left with is ten poems. Ten. Each of which, printed in portrait, would be about a page long. That is, if you don’t feel like doing the math, seven dollars a poem. I know a few poets who supplement their income by doing live “commission me to write a poem for you” nights regularly on Facebook or Livejournal. I don’t know a single one whose minimum price for a commission is as high as $7. And most of those folks are pretty darn good poets. How’s the Olah fellow?

one does

stand—on the

parking lot—outside

in daylight—as the sun

is up—and moving

higher—by times

progressing

it’s just the

lot—the asphalt

surface—space large

takes minutes to walk

from the end—to the

front—not much”

(–”Progress”)

Bluntly, that’s not even poetry. There isn’t a single image there to seize on, the language doesn’t feel like any thought went into the word choice at all, and even less went into the placement of the line breaks. And what on earth is with all the em-dashes? I grant you, that’s only half of one poem, but I wouldn’t pay seven cents for it, much less seven bucks. I got it free and I want my time back. Half a star because it’s not egregiously offensive and for some stupid reason, I finished it.

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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