A few days after Digressions of a Naked Party Girl
(ECW Press, 128 pages, $14.95 paper) came out, I read one of Sky Gilbert's poems, "Why Kathie Lee Gifford Is Just Like The United States of America", to a high-school group. Having heard only dead English white guys before, they couldn't believe that poems could be funny and witty-and about the things they knew about. Real things, even what happened on TV, the sincere truth and blatant hypocrisy of it all.
I can exploit Latina women in sweat shops
and then I can
appear with President Clinton and I can lie
And you will love me, Kathie Lee Gifford
In Gilbert's first poetry collection, the language moves and lives in the times in which we live and in the things about which we think, much like a contemporary Frank O'Hara. The two can be compared, apart from the fact that they're both gay, involved in other arts (O'Hara worked at a New York art gallery; Gilbert has written and directed his own plays for two decades, and is a novelist), and write urban poems about the world in front of them, old Hollywood movies, and Lana Turner. Gilbert even refers to O'Hara in "A Poem for You and Frank O'Hara", which ends so beautifully:
I've never eaten pie as delicious as your smile
put my hands in gooey fingerpaint as nice
as your curly
hair since General Franco gave up Spain
But I don't want to give you up ever
or until the end of February
Then again, March
you little soldier.