The first (but by no means only) joke in Shappy Seasholtz’s Spoken Nerd Revolution is the title: the poems collected in this snappy little volume are clearly meant to be read aloud — yet here they are on the printed page, fending largely for themselves, accompanied only by illustrations of a lovelorn beatnik (courtesy of Sam Henderson) for guidance and protection. Fortunately, they have wit on their side. And a truckload of references to the early-to-mid 1980s that self-professed nerds like myself (and, apparently, the poet) gobble like power-pellets in a game of Pac-Man.
There is, of course, a poem dedicated to l’homme de Pac in this collection, yet Seasholtz digs even deeper into his knowledge of Atari 2600 lore to produce paeans to such obscure yet somehow ubiquitous games like Circus and Joust. (One complaint — Shappy, if you’re reading this — no mention of Yars’ Revenge? What gives?) Add to this plentiful references to all of the other pop-culture touchstones of my childhood — “a mint-in-package Jawa/with its original vinyl cape,” “Mork’s space egg,” and Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchberries — and you have a poetic vocabulary aimed directly at the alienated demographic of recovering uber-geeks that grew up, through no fault of their own, in the wake of a diplomatic mission to Alderan and never quite recovered from the experience.
1980s pop culture isn’t the only topic Seasholtz touches on in this collection. He also tackles such issues as love and his dissatisfaction with US foreign policy — all in his own unique way. And, lest I forget, he also meditates at some length on zombie stand-up comedy. All of this is to say that Seasholtz is funny — assuming A) you’re in the mood for his brand of humor and B) you (like me (like I?)) never get tired of Yoda references. In some ways, Spoken Nerd Revolution is reminiscent of the poetry Robbie Q. Telfer, who provides a refreshingly honest blurb on the back cover of the book. At the same time, I’m also reminded of some of the wackier poetry of the late Richard William Pearce, whose posthumous volume of poetry, To Befriend a Fox, is due later this year. All told, Spoken Nerd Revolution is not only a fun read, but it will also look cool on your desk or coffee table.