Poems that embrace spoken-word rhythms and hippie principles, inspired by the author’s love of music and nature, her peace activism, and her gratitude for Jewish community.
With this collection’s title, Lang (Id Biscuits, 2016, etc.) styles herself a flâneuse—in tongue-in-cheek contrast to a poet laureate. Her verse matches that loose, languid persona thanks to its slang vocabulary (“Ain’t,” “gonna,” “coulda,” “cos”) and poetry-slam cadences. “To Get Free,” which won Best of Show at the 2015 Solano (California) County Fair, is a prime example of Lang’s informal register and message of nonconformity: “C’mon, baby, hit the reset button on your soul. / Do what you love, and not what you’re told.” It’s largely composed of rhyming couplets, like the majority of these poems. Although line and stanza lengths vary, the consistent rhyme and punchy wordplay show that these poems would lend themselves well to oral performance. However, some rhymes edge toward the cheesy (“schmoozing”/“losing,” “whack”/“snack,” “speck”/“trek”). Lang’s themes include wanderlust, love for nature (and especially hiking in the California hills), religious devotion, paying the bills versus living the artist’s life, and transforming from a passive pacifist to an activist. “You gave me lungs, / so that I might breathe peace” expresses forthright praise to God in “What You Created,” and elsewhere, verse expresses delight in Jewish practice: “There’s music and Torah both running through my soul,” she observes—a quirky combination that brings to mind a Jewish Janis Joplin. In the satirical “Doves in Season,” the traditional peace symbol is being hunted. “Fear not the rocking boat,” another poem advises, encouraging readers to question racism, capitalism, and America’s reliance on weapons. There’s “more than one way to be an American,” the poem “Headline Antidote” insists; indeed, this collection imagines a peaceful, joyful future America. Some readers may dismiss this poetry as naïvely hippie-esque—its sentiments can be clichéd and repetitive, and the book would have benefited from culling and subheadings—but its righteous enthusiasm is admirable.
Free-spirited ideals couched in fairly infectious rhymes.