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POETRY AND SATIRE FOR THE AVANT-GARDE by Jalleh Doty

POETRY AND SATIRE FOR THE AVANT-GARDE

By Jalleh Doty

Pub Date: April 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-557-04752-9

An incredibly varied selection of material reflects an unusual perspective on contemporary life.

The cover of Doty’s debut collection features a view of Earth from space, half of it shrouded in darkness. As a metaphor for the skewed perspective that characterizes this collection of poems, stories and observations, this image is just about perfect. Doty’s distinctive voice is that of a consummate outsider–at times she behaves like a visitor to our planet. This is not only manifested in her penchant for science fiction, which leads her to speculate that Gray Aliens might live among us undetected, but through her passionate environmentalism. The latter leads her to castigate humanity’s current leaders for their failure to think beyond short-term interests. The author’s frustration with society causes her to identify closely with animals; the book has a charmingly sensitive portrayal of birds, mice, snakes, wolves and cats, including the Ancient Egyptian Temple Cat–the hero of one of the book’s extended historical fantasies. This narrative is only one of many occasions where Doty blends human and animal worlds to surreal effect. For example, in the poem “Dating a Crocodile,” the reader isn’t sure if the title creature is just a metaphor for a deadbeat boyfriend or something larger. Doty’s language is never too serious, though, even when approaching seemingly weighty topics. While her poems lack polish and complexity, they occasionally redeem with unexpected bursts of sarcasm or quirky humor. The book notably stumbles in the section entitled “My Theories,” in which Doty awkwardly weighs in on topics from homosexuality to tofu. Still, some of the poet’s simplistic rhymes evoke a childlike pleasure, as in the following consideration of a neglected natural resource: “Can chocolate build a house or a great car? / Maybe chocolate can be used that far.”

An odd, playful look at life.