June 7, 2007

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Revolution on Canvas, Volume 2: Poetry From the Indie Music Scene, edited by Rich Balling (Warner Books, 2007, 224 pages)
Reviewed by Dan Szczesny news@hippopress.com

In yet another poetry compilation designed to reach those crazy kids who supposedly find traditional poetry too inaccessible, Rich Balling of the band The Sound of Animals Fighting has released a follow-up to the 2004 book of Revolution on Canvas. The double conceit of this series — that poetry needs to be brought to the level of its readers and that indie rock musicians are worthy poets — is short-sighted and more than a little insulting.

First of all, indie rock? Groups like Fall Out Boy, Deftones and Reel Big Fish are hardly musical revolutionaries, and the book’s big assumption, that you’d even want to listen to the music of those bands to say nothing of their poetry, is fatally flawed. I suppose on a strictly pop culture level it might be interesting to read the scribblings of someone from one of your favorite bands, but Balling and his editors don’t appear to be very interested in process or context. Instead the book is a mish-mash of poetry, short stories and ravings, dealing mostly with how hard life on the road is, or, conversely, how important it is to live life to the fullest.

Revolution on Canvas succeeds only in the level of insult it thrusts on its targeted readers. If vague platitudes, poor syntax and tired “stick it to the authority” catch phrases are really what the younger generation is interested in reading, then perhaps they deserve a book like this. F