Sunday 13 December 2009


Critical Literature Review presents its first review of a poetry anthology. Here you get to see Chika Onyenezi covering Michael Frissore's poetry anthology "Poetry is Dead" which was published by Coatlism Press. Enjoy!

Michael Frissore from his biography grew up in Massachusetts, and now lives in Tuscon, Arizona with his wife.

After a competition by Coastline Press in 2008, Michael Frissore emerged as the winner with his humorous poetry collection titled “Poetry is Dead”.

Poetry is Dead” is a collection of works published on different literary e-zines like Clockwise Cat, Red Fez, Right Hand Pointing, Black Listed Magazine, The, My Favorite Bullet,, and The Scruffy Dog Review. Some of the poems in this collection were originally written to fit into this title.

I am intrigued by the title of the book “Poetry is Dead” because the pertinent question becomes ‘Is poetry really dead?’ The answer to this question is where the journey begins for this poet. The title gnaws like a dog; a challenge to the modern literary society. Well, if we take the literary meaning of the title “Poetry is Dead”, then this art died and is waiting to be buried. It can also be interpreted as portraying a decline in the quality of poetry. Another way to look at it would be to concede that the poems written by the old masters (Shakespeare et. al.) are much more alive than modern day poetry.

Whilst the mastery of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Burns etc. are not in doubt, the relevance of contemporary poets is not to be undermined. Poetry is not dead in the real sense of it. Poetry is as alive today as it ever was.  Though not as popular a medium fiction or non-fiction, more men are dedicating their time to this medium in these present times. As is often the case with many arts, one often has to dig through the debris of some atrocious collections of poems to find a real gem. Frissore is adept at using irony to maximum effect in his poems. His poems are humorous, fun and lively. These poems remind me of the changing nature of ‘history’ and never of ‘art’. Our modern day poetry has evolved into something that fits this century. “Poetry is Dead” shows the maturity of our age; the age of spoken words, word slam and texting; the age of rap and reality television.

The content of this collection is filled with mixed feeling; humour, anger and love. Humour adds light to dark rooms. Yes humour does, and this author portrays it in his poem titled “Untitliest”:

Thou art some
equestrian bird
with boots and feathers
feeding worms to
little Biafran children
and leaping across
Snake River Canyon

Takest off thy britches
and heave them into traffic
like a discus thrower.

Discard thy blouse and bra
like Hulk Hogan
Madison Square Garden.

Even more, I will not leave out the words of love for his wife Amy, he said:

Her beauty is powerful,
like a cross between
Barry Bond and General Tso.

And she is sweeter than sugar.

Michael Frissore adds beauty to poetry when one views the extreme emotions filled in his verses. His poetry is as relevant as today as those of the old masters and boldly touches the intricate part of humanity.

If you have not read this collection of poems, then you should. The literary world needs people like Frissore at this point in time. If poetry is indeed dead, he is helping with its resurrection. Just in the deep night with his shovel, he performs the rituals and exhumes the rotten body of Poetry and with every poetic device known to him, he breathes life into it. “Poetry is Dead” deserves a place in history, and Frissore an accolade that befits a poet. Poetry lives! Viva la Poems!

Chika Onyenezi is a Writer and Editor. He blogs at]

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