Dear Future Boyfriend offers fans of Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz a glimpse of the poet’s bittersweet past. The book is a reissue of her debut collection, which was initially published a little over a decade ago. As the title suggests, the focus of the collection is young love in all of its forms — excerpt, perhaps, the requited variety. Rather than coming across as a hopeless, pining adolescent throughout this volume, Aptowicz endears herself to the reader by coming across as a witty, charming, and self-deprecating adolescent who also happens to be hopeless and pining — a teen who wants nothing more than to be loved but also can’t help stopping to observe that a 25% off coupon for a discount bra store in the largest outlet mall in Pennsylvania does not make for the most romantic of anniversary gifts. Moreover, the poet doesn’t focus entirely on young love in this collection. Aptowicz also takes time to pay touching homage to her parents, her hometown, and the friends who shared the experiences that led her to becoming the poet she is today.
Of special note, at least for a Philadelphia native like myself, are the poems “August in Philadelphia,” which offers a backwards glimpse at the City of Brotherly Love as the poet prepares for her first big move to the Big Apple, and “To the Boy Who Builds and Paints Sets at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia,” which is a fitting paean not only to the “boy” in question but also to hopeless infatuation itself. Also noteworthy are “The Guy Who Hated My Stuff on Poemfone (A Found Poem),” in which the poet reproduces a borderline psychotic voice-mail response to one of her poems to great comic effect, and “Hard Bargain,” which sees the poet making an IPO of sorts for the rights to her virginity.
Anyone who’s ever been young and in love will find something to enjoy in Dear Future Boyfriend. What’s more, fans of Cristin O’Keefe Apotwicz will enjoy bearing witness to the initial stirrings of wit and sharp observation that mark her later work. Overall, a fun and at times moving read.
-Review by Marc Schuster