In many ways, Lovesick, Howie Good’s latest collection of poetry and prose-poems, reads like a love letter to a world gone wrong. The poet takes as his subjects the myriad horrors and disappointments that constitute civilization at the start of the twenty-first century: cheap haircuts, cancer, terrorism, cell phones, and customer service call centers, to name just a few. Yet there’s also a grim, self-aware playfulness in Good’s poetry. In “What Characters Do When We’re Away,” for example, he ruminates on the secret lives of literary creations and has them tossing mini footballs to each other in the margins of our favorite books despite knowing how their stories will end. Elsewhere, Good’s poems attempt to divine the place of poets and poetry in a largely uncaring world where audience members walk out of poetry readings without warning and muses suffer the endless abuse of those they would inspire. For Good, the world of the poet is difficult and complicated, but no more so than the world the rest of us share. The difference, it would seem based on this volume, is that the poet sees the complications all the more clearly and has no choice but to try and untangle them.

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