Bobcat Country

Bobcat Country Last night, I lived up to one of my poetry resolutions turn off the TV and read a book As my fingers skimmed the spines of all those luscious books waiting for me, the orange of Brandi Homan s Bobcat Country called to me I ve had this book for a few months and have had it on my list for a year I can t remember where I heard of it first, but I think it might have been Karen s blog, The Scrapper Poet Wherever I first heard of it, I learned that Homan is fromwait for itIowa And now I ve learned that she s not only from Iowa but from Marshalltown, Iowa, a town only 60 miles southwest of my own Waterloo I can still tell you exactly how to get there, where to by pass Hwy 63 in favor of the less traveled 96 I can still tell you exactly what the fields of corn look like bending in the wind and whipping past at 70 mph I can tell you how it smells on that drive in spring when the farmers are out spreading manure smells like money, as my mom always says In another mirroring, it also appears that we both came of age in the 80s and I m sure we must have sat in the same gym or football stadium at some point in our high school lives at one championship game or another I promise I ll get to the book review, I do However, first I have to honor my joy and amazement to know that there was another girl out there at the same time as I was, absorbing the world that I absorbed and learning to craft it into something called poetry This might not seem remarkable to someone born and raised in NYC or SF or Seattle Portland or even Chicago or Minneapolis, but to me it is a bit of a paradigm shift, as I often felt that I was alone in my little northeast Iowa world of words along with my cousin, Marta Ferguson, but she was in southeast Iowa and that seemed a great distance then.Okay, on to Bobcat Country Those would be the Marshalltown Bobcats in the title, and the book provides a raw, funny, poignant, and sometimes difficult look at a working class coming of age in a small Iowa town in the 80s These are amazing poems in a voice as different from mine as I can imagine, no soft lyricism here I am in awe of Homan s ability to paint that working class life in such bright and unflinching tones.Here s the opening of Welcome to Bobcat Country, and if you re from a small town, I bet there s a sign like this at your town border on the major roadway.We drove to the border just to say we pissed in the MississippiRiver, six in a car to see whether a Lifesaver makes a spark.We danced in headlights.We had sex with boyfriends at the funeral home, slept withthe gym teacher Snuck into the hot tub at the HolidayInn Watched porn at Niemeyer s and went swimming andswimming and swimming, held each other underwater toolong.Our mothers chain smoked, our fathers came straight home.Everyone spoke the same language Everyone felt the layoffs.I confess, Dear Reader, that while I didn t do most of these things, I knew people who did, and those last two sentences of this excerpt hit especially close to home I actually lose my breath a little there.As you can see from this one excerpt, Homan is a master in the details Perhaps I rushed through this book, and I did rush, because I found my people and my places there Boys driving T top Camaros, summer trips to Lake Okoboji, detasseling season, Hy Vee stores, class rings, trailer parks, Cedar Rapids Marshalltown Hwy 30.But just writing about my homeland wouldn t be enough to hold me Homan backs it up with wonderful craft and a wry, witty voice In fact, at times she expands outward and writes about that taboo subject, the subject of poetry and being a poet Here, her humor is at the best In the poem For Poets Others , she tells us that we would be poets should never use the following words blackberries, poppies, detritus bifurcation, sluiced, slaked and follows the list up with this one liner James Wright has already seen horses in a field Oh my goodness, I couldn t stop laughing when I read that, mostly because I knew I myself had been guilty of repeating and imitating to death the Wright brothers James Charles, no relation to each other, or course and so many others..The poem that hooked me and had me starting over from the front and reading straight through to the back in a rush is actually toward the end As I flipped through the pages trying to decide if I should read or just go to bed, I fell on this poem, which I have to quote in its entirety and I hope that Homan and her publisher will forgive me.Iowa PoetsAttending the Writer s Workshopdoes not make you an Iowa poet.You never drove Highway 30 to Vet sAuditorium for the Tourney a lineof Camaros full of Busch Light and Cloves,turquoise Geo Trackers with shoe polishedwindows You never detasseled cornor worked as a checker at Hy Veeuntil college, returning summersto get schnockered playing Three Manin someone s basement Never showedsheep at the state fair, saw the buttersculptures like Tibetan monks Nofour wheelers or grill your own steakrestaurants So, go ahead.Write your poems about fieldsand farmers and quiet, howyou can see the stars every night.You ll never love them like I do.I laughed and cried at this one It touches on so many of my own themes and is so protective of Iowa In fact, my sister was a checker at Hy Vee and her daughter now shows pigs at the state fair, and seriously, the butter sculptures are something else That last line reminds me of a children s picture book that I have It s called If You re Not from the Prairie and it s written by a man from the Canadian side of the prairie, I think In any case, the whole book revolves around that refrain If you re not from the prairie, you can t know the wind is one set of pages, If you re not from the prairies, you can t know the sun is another When I m nostalgic for home, I take this book out and now I ll be adding Homan s to it as well.The poem also makes me think about regionalism and my own grad school experience in Arkansas Several of my instructors were old school Southern poets, strongly narrative, strongly male They didn t know what to make of my quiet farms and fields, my lyricism And yet, I knew I couldn t adopt a Southern voice I couldn t become an Arkansas poet That wasn t my story to tell.Homan now lives in Chicago, and we have both risen from our working class roots to something like the middle class And while our styles might be quite different, it is a delight to find a sister voice I praise it. Mom moved, took the oversized oak furniture Its gloss clogs her shrunken living room 29 her curlers green plastic spores 36 Brandi Homan s Bobcat Country, made me homesick.In some ways, it s hard to explain why The setting for many of the poems found in Bobcat Country is Iowa, not the backwoods of rural Pennsylvania, where I grew up Still, there s something achingly familiar about many of the characters in Homan s poems In the opening poem, What It Means to be an American the poet explains, It s picnic Buckets of beer, a bluegrass band, a shotgun wedding Casseroles in covered dishes, sparklers, fireflies Doritos and french fries cantaloupe squares and a waitress humming in the background Hmmmm Substitute country music for bluegrass, and that s home to me Even eerie are the lines found in Welcome to Bobcat Country where the poet offers such observations as We drove to Planned Parenthood, picked wedding colors We listened to gangster rap in the stockroom, ate at Perkins and Perkins and Perkins and We drank in the barn, the backyard, the back room, the bedroom, the haunted house where they filmed Twister We had the highest teen alcoholism rate in the state Okay, I didn t know the world of Twister, necessarily, but I knew the world of teen alcoholism something so common in rural areas that most people really don t think it s a problem.So basically, Homan s book spoke to me because everything was so familiar But I liked her use of short, terse language, her gritty details I suppose there are those who say that Homan falls into clich , but I disagree Her truths are rooted in fields, in farms, in family kitchens and in the relationships women have with their friends, their sisters, their mothers, their families She s painfully honest about the lives so many people live and the in the lives we wish we had never lived.Not all the poems necessarily take place in Iowa Many poems balance the poet s past with her struggle in academics a workingclass background with the intellectual world as someone who has a working class background, and now works in academics, I use the term intellectual very loosely Trust me In Mobile Homecoming the poet explains that I saw that others, hello Professor, viewed me as not middle class That I was low middle class, or low class even, depending on how much cash the one doing the viewing had She goes on to look at her own past, to explain that I grew up in a nice house on the good side of town with parents who once owned a mobile home My father shot a rattlesnake in the driveway He stopped it before it got to the dogs Even if you are not from Iowa or Pennsylvania I bet you will find something familiar in Homan s world, even if you are looking for advice about navigating the poetry world. I don t know much about Brandi Homan but I am guessing that she grew up somewhere in the Carolinas or further south and that she wrote her first poems in a 24 hour pancake house Bobcat Country is full of spazzy goofball charm Even when Homan s words ring cranky, you can tell that she secretly loves everything. Very excited to read this YOU WILL LOVE IT Poetry Brandi Homan S BOBCAT COUNTRY Is The Unholy Love Child Of Lynda Barry And Ween Fabulously Honest, Surprising, And Hilarious, These Poems Are A TGIFriday S Extravaganza Of Retarded American Enthusiasm, Deftly Rendered Homan Loves The Fuck Yeaaaah S Our Culture Hoots Just Before It Drives Its Rental Car Off A Cliff Her Details Are So Spot On, Their Mere Presence Relieves Us Of The Need For Contrived, Poetic Resolutions That S What Makes The Poems True There Are No Easy Answers In Them They Make Me Proud To Be A Woman, And Yet, Simultaneously, Wanna Sincerely Rock Out In A Parking Lot To Rape Rock Jennifer L Knox

BURN FORTUNE, forthcoming from CLASH Books in May 2019 She holds a PhD in English, Creative Writing Fiction , from the University of Denver and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago She is the author of two books of poetry,

[EPUB] ✺ Bobcat Country  By Brandi Homan –
  • Paperback
  • 80 pages
  • Bobcat Country
  • Brandi Homan
  • English
  • 12 November 2019
  • 9781848610859

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