As an avid lover of poetry and poet myself, I indulge in exploring this bewitching world. From old favourites to fresh meat it always leaves me with a desire for more, dancing on my tongue, tempting and luring me into submission: and who am I to complain? When crafted right it’s heaven, simply bliss.
Today I am reviewing Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot (Published by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press September 24, 2019) By V.C. McCabe. A big thank you to the author for sending me a copy to review, always appreciated. Right, let’s begin dear reader, time for some poetry!
About The Author
V.C. McCabe is the author of Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019). Her work has been featured in exhibits and journals worldwide, including the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Museum & Library, the FRANK Gallery, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, The Minnesota Review, Appalachian Heritage, Spillway, and Tar River Poetry. She has lived in Ireland, England, and West Virginia.
Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot
Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot reveals the reality of rural life with elements of the surreal. Comforts of country living are juxtaposed with poverty, domestic violence, the opioid epidemic, and environmental destruction both natural and man-made.
McCabe has a rich, inviting style of writing that has a habit of nestling up next to the reader making them feel all snug and cosy. These poems reminded me why I adore the literature world so, the use of words to create strong creative imagery that the mind paints uniquely differently between each individual. Her choice of words have been delicately crafted for her poems, giving the reader a sensual experience as they consume its mouthwatering contents.
McCabe shows that it is the simple things in life that make it worth living. These are the memories to make, remember and look fondly back on. It’s humbling and honest bringing a homely feeling to the reader. You can’t help but want to light some candles, grab a soft blanket and settle in with a warm drink as you read her poetry.
Picnic paper plates piled high,
we dangle bare feet over
old, abandoned riverboat docks,
skimmin’ green summer water.
The sweet smell of honeysuckle
perfumes the hot, sticky air
better than a store bought bottle
and the buzzin’ bumble bees testify.
The nature of the world we live in is a beautiful disaster. Within seconds floods can drown villages while fires turn all that they touch to black ash and dust. But not only the natural causes are to blame here dear reader; for we as humans have to take some responsibility. The environment not only plays an important part in these poems but echoes the raw truths we ignorantly try to ignore. It’s powerful, compelling poetry and speaks from the heart.
The river swelled silently in the night,
swiftly swallowing our small town
in a filthy sea of flood-water and mud,
leaving only our trembling bodies
and sobbing prayers for so many
neighbors swept away as we slept.
McCabe portrays human behaviour in all it’s exquisite beauty with grace and elegance. The reality of life and the blissful moments it can deliver, while always being vigilant as snakes like to linger in the grass. That constant fear we all struggle with, never being able to fully relax as there’s always something or someone waiting to pounce on you.
Family is a strong theme dusted sweetly like icing sugar over a Victoria Sponge. McCabe reminds the reader that it is the memories that keep them alive, keeping family recipes and attempting to do them justice. However McCabe also shows that it’s not about whose blood runs in your veins that defines you, it’s the actions you make. It’s touching, bringing a tear to your eye as you dust off your grandmother’s old cook book to bake her famous banana-bread. The reader sees that even after we have gone, little things like this will live on, being passed down from generation to generation. It’s heartwarming.
I followed her recipe
word for word—scrawled
in pencil on an old index card,
passed down two generations.
Her curling handwriting faded
and chocolate-stained, warped
by decades of loving use.
There were moments I found myself surrounded by the tranquil Appalachian mountains, life in a rural area. But heartbreakingly had to pay witness to the disasters it has unfortunately suffered in its lifetime. Where we grow up is always going to be considered our home but when that safe place is wiped away what do you have left? Bricks and mortar? McCabe stresses this in her poems, allowing the reader to see that no matter how far we travel, our home can never be replaced. It makes one homesick slightly…pass the tissues please.
I sailed around the world only to find
that I am now the one left behind,
without an anchor, haunted
and homesick for a home
that no longer exists.
At the end of the book the reader is treated to a Spotify playlist that adds to the atmosphere and emotions these poems provoke. It’s relaxing listening and brings life to the images McCabe has painted in her poems, they twirl and dance about as you sit back with your cup of tea and relax.
I give Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot By V.C. McCabe a Four out of Five paw rating.
These poems felt like flipping through a scrapbook of memories, family and life in general. They are personal and full of emotion that captures McCabe’s passion as a poet using the finest of imagery; she is a pleasure to read. I look forward to reading more of McCabe’s work in the future as I find it most imaginative.
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