Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rod Smith Tangent Intro, Portland, 5/23/09

“Excuse me officer, I thought
you were a shape-shifting rat.”

If there were some messy Planet of the Apes-like apocalypse, and this were the only line of Rod Smith’s to survive, the gorillas and chimps would still have a lot of Smith to love. They’d get a taste of his Johnny Rotten-meets-Bugs Bunny attitude to authority in all its wily disguises. They’d get the carefully careless attention to sound that marries “excuse” to “sir” and “rat” to “thought.” They’d have the surprising misdirection of a “shape-shifting” rat, which lifts our officer out of the billy club and badge department of a thousand B-movies and deposits him somewhere more lunatic and sinister, where power is rubber and slips under doors or into grammar. Which is why I’m glad Rod’s there to meet it when its head pops out the other side, looking like Ted Baxter or George W., and there’s Rod set to wing it with “the back-slap/of facticity,” that pathos apes most hate. Rod’s work is always reminding me that optimism is an American disease, but humor is its birthright, and if you turn it just the right way it shoots coyote juice in the policeman’s good eye. Please welcome “Best Poet of Washington D.C. for 2008,” Rod Smith.

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