Bad Poetry, Vol. 1: Tumbleweed

Page. Feb. 2022. 134p. ISBN 9781647019754. pap. $14.95. POETRY
A former professional basketball player—who, he notes wryly, owing to injuries “spent more time on the bench/ in street clothes than with his uniform on”—Rodriguez is currently an MBA graduate who has turned to poetry as personal exploration. “There’s no order/ no plan/ no expectations/ Just Polaroids/ of life experiences/ through my eyes,” he explains, with results that are honest, forthright, and unpretentious. Sometimes sentimental (“I messed it up and now/ I’m here knocking on your door/ With thirty-six long-stemmed roses in my hand”), sometimes harder edged (of his father, he says, “I had to grow up without you/ because you were too stubborn/ to accept being governed”), the poems plunge baldly into love, family, and identity and leave one sensing that here’s a good person working to sort out “this Rubik’s cube of life.” The lines have a stream-of-consciousness feel, with the diction occasionally reminiscent of rap (“So even on the sunniest day/ I think of rain and the pain/ the train wreck/ I barely survived”), but while he may feel blown about like tumbleweed, there’s a sweet simplicity here that readers intimidated by contemporary poetry may well appreciate.
VERDICT Recommended for those who want a straightforward, heartfelt read in tumultuous times, including YAs looking for resonance and anyone appreciating the insouciance of Rodriguez’s title.
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