Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kevin Stein's Sufficiency of the Actual

Kevin Stein happens to be Illinois' Poet Laureate and Caterpillar professor of English at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Thanks to my mother-in-law, I received his book, Sufficiency of the Actual published by University of Illinois Press in 2009, as a present and was delighted with the poems I found inside.

You can view a preview of the book and its poems here: Sample Preview at Google: Sufficiency of the Actual

One of the poems that made me smile is titled “On Being a Nielsen Family” which essentially boils down to how we try to impress people despite who we really are. The following lines “the way a bickering couple makes nice/once the bell ding-dongs neighbors in/for cocktails and unsalted Cheese Nips” and “Though we watch Oprah, we circle BBC News” indicate what I mean. While we may not behave exactly as these lines represent, we can all relate in some way to how we alter ourselves for appearances’ sake.

This poem made me laugh and then cover my mouth: “Song of the Night Shift Foreman” where the poet and his fellow factory workers make up a song to ridicule their Foreman who typically has ear plugs in until one fateful night he overhears the song “trilled to The Beatles’ ‘Come Together.’” The song goes such as the poet provides: “he got juju eyeball,/he got funky hairlip,/he got nose down below his knees./Got to be a foreman,/he just do what he please” to which the foreman punishes them for it. In the poem, the foreman retaliates by demanding “200 boxes to the hour or your rear’s hauled out.” There is more to the poem than this but I want you to read it and discover your own reaction.

Kevin Stein’s collection pokes fun at the American way of life in many of his poems and I like his perspective on our country. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and in tough times like these, his poems are a welcome read. I hope you’ll pick up this collection for yourself and thanks always for reading.

Please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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