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In their collaborative, experimental poetry collection, Sinéad O’Connor and Her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds (Firewheel Editions ), Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton explore subjects ranging from hurricanes to Jerry Seinfeld to the devil, with cool humor, sparkling wordplay, and sharp wisdom.
More than expounding on any of these topics, however, de la Flor and Seaton showcase language itself in such a way as to excite both the intellect and the imagination. One line in the poem “The Possessed Samaritan” reads, “You can tell when the devil wants to lol, although I wait until he’s finished before I join in.” And indeed these poems are all about play and flirtation with the dangerous.
They wear “heavy” topics such as religious fundamentalism, natural disasters, astronomical and chemical occurrences, physics, oppression of women, and self-deprecation gracefully, always balancing the serious with the hilarious.
The poems collected in Sinéad fly readers from one topic to the next without ever neglecting readers’ desire to go along for the ride. While the poems flit from subject to subject, one cannot deny the peculiar coherence between them. At first the poems might seem nonsensical, but listen closer for a more complex logic. De la Flor and Seaton stack up meaning within and between each poem so as to create a robust and layered experience. They create their own sense. Their drunken logic strikes juxtapositions that flash so quickly between metaphors, between the sobering and absurd, we’re not even sure it happened.
One line in the poem, “The Bette Davis Mosh” reads, “In the mosh pit even the unluckiest get a chance to dance akimbo. They bring their hands to each other and loofah.” The line makes no traditional sense, yet we easily intuit what it means. Likewise, each poem invites readers to dance, to play, and to believe in the far-fetched.
Lusty, swanky, and well-toned, these poems are playful without being light, and smart without being esoteric. Read this book to witness an inspiring dexterity with language. Read this book for a loving sucker-punch to the brain. Read this book in a place where it is okay to lol, or even to loofah.
Sinéad O’Connor and Her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds
By Neil De La Flor and Maureen Seaton
Paperback, 9780982895719, 69 pp.