Thursday, March 3, 2011


Yes, technically I have spent my weekdays in Pittsburgh (for the most part) these past 5 weeks, but I have travelled for 5 weekends in a row. Goddamn, I am glad to be home. Granted, home is now a huge mess, but I can finally clean that huge home mess. So, from Windber to Dayton to NYC back to Windber back to NYC again, and finally, home.

However, this left me with precious little energy and even less time, so it is only now that I am writing a new review. Dang. Not that there aren't a million books and chapbooks that I've read waiting to be reviewed. I'm such a slack-ass.

The Liturgy of Streets by Kristofer Collins (Six Gallery Press, 2008) - I have gotten to know Kris very very slowly. At this point, honestly, I'm not sure I could tell you when I first met Kris. That's how gradual my getting to know Kris has been. I remember I saw him read at the Brillobox (the hipster bar at the time in Pittsburgh) in 2006. That might have been my first Kris Collins encounter. It also might not have been. I mention this because, while The Liturgy of Streets was published in 2008, many of the poems were written in 2006, and while Kris and I didn't talk to each other at that reading in 2006, the poems in The Liturgy of Streets definitely pull me back to my life that year.

If I had to venture a guess, I would say that well over half (2/3, even) of the poems in this book are dedicated to an individual, are actually titled some version of "A Poem for ____", or address a particular person by name. Essentially, The Liturgy of Streets is a book of love poems. At first glance, and read each alone, these love poems are to individuals. Read as a whole, though, the book is one long love poem to the city of Pittsburgh, the people being part of what makes up that city, and Kris'/the speaker's experience of the city. Each of the people addressed in the book have a connection to Pittsburgh, whether they live(d) there, or have somehow shaped the speaker's life in Pittsburgh. When the speaker talks of love (spoken of to both men and women equally), I feel as though it is not merely the individual loved, but the part of the city they represent. A review on Amazon of one of Kris' other books complains that his poems run into each other. They do, but I don't think that this should be looked on as a bad thing. Each poem does not read as an entirely new beginning, but rather a step down the street from the last.

I mentioned that these poems pulled me back to my life in 2006. 2006 was not an easy year for me. I broke up with my fiance, had my heart broken no fewer than 3 times, drank a lot, and wrote a lot. There was a great deal of pain in my life that year, but a lot of beauty as well. I felt connected to the people and places around me and I was absolutely convinced that the late night half drunk adventures, feeling the city on my bare feet, and reaching for those connections, even when they dug into me, was all the most absolutely necessary thing. I think Kris and I had very similar 2006s. We probably would have made great drinking buddies.


Pittsburgh Book Review said...

Some days just bring the best surprises. Thank you, Margaret for the lovely words regarding Liturgy of Streets. And yes, we would have made for very fine drinking buddies. In fact, let's tilt one together real soon!

Margaret Bashaar said...

Kris! I'm so very glad that you like what I wrote about The Liturgy of Streets - it always makes me happy to see writers read what I wrote about their work AND appreciate what I wrote.

And I agree! We should get together!