Give the Bard a Poetry Award

Friends May Be Forced to Buy Their Own Copy

Readers should be advised to ignore the initial warning of “No Trespassing” when they poke their noses into Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot. The brave souls who do continue by the “..small, solitary carousel horse… ” which is “…tangled in barbed wire and tall grass,
decayed by flood water and mud…” will be met with extraordinary poetry.

Where there have been people there will always be history, and the embittered bard of this collection will not let readers ignore the stories of Appalachia. Though the towns may disappear due to natural disasters or a hopeful exodus towards new opportunities, V. C. McCabe’s poems would rather perish in those West Virginia woods. They would rather die screaming lost names and echoing the events which took place there before letting it all slip into the abscess of America’s memory. Her poetry is as powerful a force as the “….unrepentant river…” Its “…bank broken in wild abandon”, it cannot now be ushered politely out of the room.

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McCabe’s cynical, at times heartbroken, bard of Appalachia refuses, much like fellow chroniclers W. R. Rodriquez and Matthew J. Lawler, to be blinded by nostalgia. “Better to / self-inflict revelation than perpetuate heritage,” the bard declares. These narratives of truth can be painful, maddening even, “…so let’s sulk together and exist.” The bard calls for shared schadenfreude and drives home the pain of gripping too tight to false happy memories in “Solstalgia”:

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.

It must be said that McCabe does gift her readers some of the beauty of this world along with its gaunt horrors. A reprieve is granted from the snapping maw of both man and nature in this beautiful description of a quiet, peaceful moment:

Freckled twin fawns run
to graze in a sunlit field
wilded with flowers,
purpled with violets, irises,
ironweed, and Sweet
Williams, glowing yellow
with daffodils, dandelions,
and buttercups.

Whitetails in Wildflowers

This soothing atmosphere is not long in existence. “Skull face drug mules walk on, hauling / big backpacks on shoulders so sharp / and boney it’s a wonder they don’t break….” It is a monstrous wonder that such images could coexist in the same plane.

Drug addiction isn’t the only horror faced by these inhabitants of woods and hollers. Floods left “…survivors stranded on their rooftops”, a chemical spill sent “…licorice-scented, toxic terror / into the unsuspecting, unprotected /source of our local water supply.” There is so much constant devastation that even McCabe’s bard feels the strain.

I love my mountains,
my people—their strength
and fierce endurance.
But I’m tired of bearing
witness to their sorrows
with the written word.

Give the Bard a Break

But the bard carries on because the bard must. These stories, these tragedies will howl along the riverbanks, on the wind until “..century of generations, grinds /
to a cataclysmic halt, rusting in sorrow.”

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Give the Bard a Tetanus shot, published through Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, can now be pre-ordered but it will be available in stores come September 24, 2019. V. C. McCabe’s imagery, her deft hand at conveying heartache for time’s destructive passing ensures that those who purchase this collection will jealously guard it and will be hard pressed to let it out of their sight. In short, it would be best for fans of poetry, Americana and those with a fascination for Appalachia to secure their own copy.

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8 thoughts on “Give the Bard a Poetry Award

  1. I was extremely captivated by your wonderful review on “Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot.” The book sounds like it’s talking about so deep that you’ll have to read it to find out. Amazing review!

    Liked by 2 people

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