In Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!, Peter Davis asked himself, “What would happen if poets told the whole truth about themselves and their artistic ambitions? What if every poem were stripped down to radical honesty?” In TINA he asked, “What would happen if every poem were addressed to the same person, someone not exactly a beloved?”
This time around, Davis started not with a question but a dare as his constraint: create an endless list of band names, each plausible, spanning a variety of musical styles and eras, without exhausting the concept.
BAND NAMES & OTHER POEMS is the result of that experiment, the Oulipo-inflected descendent of Raymond Queneau’s 100,000,000,000,000 Poems, sort of, but funnier and about bands. Turns out, naming bands is a peculiar linguistic activity—they’ve got their own grammar, and a flexible form that’s as ready to satirize current events as to indulge in a really bad pun. Readers will soon find themselves visualizing and even hearing the bands: understanding how Shock Fawn differs from The Stitch Release, why Stations of the Crossbow could never share a bill with Trauma Rasta or Gretchen Retch, while Midnight in Fairy Tales opening for Paper Kate makes total sense. When Trump Wall and the Mexico Pays does a contemporary-country cover of “Foreign Scandal” by 80s punk legends Reagan’s Assassination the crowd goes unwittingly wild.
Two books in one! OTHER POEMS consists of 40 standalone pieces like “Ocean Radiator,” “The Use of Youth,” “The Future as We Planned It,” and “Succeeding in America.”
About the author
PETER DAVIS’s previous books of poetry are Hitler’s Mustache, Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!, and TINA. He writes, draws, and makes music in Muncie, Indiana, where he lives with his wife and kids and teaches at Ball State University. For more information visit artisnecessary.com.
Succeeding in America
It is not as if I can capture the high road simply
by mowing everyone down at the ankles. In fact,
as I try to navigate the crust, I find my desire
to spring forward is held in check my desire
to fall back. It’s like, for each and every Newton
there is an opposite Newton, say, a fig, a Wayne
who is chubby as a tween but a real fucker
on the banjo. Also, as far as showmanship goes,
it’s hard to beat a drum harder than all the
daydreaming eyes at the soda fountain or all
the twinkling cheeks at the record store. For
every black button on a lapel, there is a tiny wish
in my heart. At every hopeful talent show
the number of dance steps is the same number
of steps to my bed. In my bed, where my dreams
are cartoon surfers, I can feel the musing of
the future. I feel the skin that isn’t yours spread
across an ocean that isn’t ours. It’s like the foam
in my throat is a bubbled snake, like the vest
in my chest is a fur grenade.