Saturday, August 9, 2008

Book Review: Bits and Pieces by Greg Schwartz

Bits and Pieces by Greg Schwartz is a chapbook, hand numbered, which contains 18 poems. Most of these poems are horror or science fiction, but Schwartz runs the gamut of those genres, touching on everything from eroticism to humor. The chapbook itself cost $5.85 with shipping from genre mall, but with my order I also received a free scifaiku postcard, as well as a copy of Shantytown Anomaly, an added $4 value, for free! Obviously, the Spec House of Poetry, publishers of both Shantytown Anomaly and Bits and Pieces, is interested in promoting their poets and other projects, as well as taking care of their customers!
What makes Schwartz's work so compelling is the way he plays with expectations. Poems may start out horrorific and scary, but end up humorously. Also, the opposite is true. Take, for example, the following:


pulls a package
from the freezer
unwraps a finger
dips it in hot sauce
and turns on
The Twilight Zone.

This poem is quite humorous, until the reader's imagination takes over, and considers the next step--the crunch of a finger bone in one's teeth, the taste of human flesh mixed with hot sauce. Yeah...creepy. This is the balance that Schwartz plays with, giving the reader just enough detail to laugh or sigh, and then letting the reader's imagination carry it further into the dark places of the imagination.

My only problem with this book is the lack of scifaiku. Schwartz runs the Haiku & Horror blog, and I was hoping for more of his short work. We are treated to three very solid pieces, but a fan of Schwartz's micro-work, I would've liked more. What this means, of course, is that Spec House of Poetry will have to put together a collection of Schwartz's haiku, so that readers can buy that as well. Until then, we have Bits And Pieces, a great collection of poems. To purchase this book, visit Spec House of Poetry.


Charles Gramlich said...

I also greatly enjoyed "Bits and Pieces," for the same reasons you give here. I agree, a collection of Schwartz's scifaiku would be wonderful.

Greg said...

Thanks for the great review! Glad you enjoyed the book.

J.E. Stanley said...

I enjoyed "Bits and Pieces" as well. And, it's fitting that you quoted the poem that explicitly mentions The Twilight Zone since there is a Twilight Zone-type sensibility to most of these poems (i.e. a surprising twist at the end, but a twist that makes sense and remains consistent with the piece up to that point).

My personal favorites are "Death Comes," "Coming Home" and humorous/macabre "Danny, Danny."


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau