Father of Noise
Poetry by Anthony McCann
Fence Books/Saturnalia Books, 2003
Paperback: 74 pp; $12
Father of Noise offers readers a world where nothing is natural, not even breathing, which interrupts and needs to be imitated. For the speakers of these poems, the simplest and most basic things are some of the trickiest. Nothing is taken for granted. These poems do not pretend to have or defend the answers, instead they are openly lost, carefully pondering on the perceived obvious and making notations along the way. McCann does this in a delightful and unashamed demeanor as if saying, “We don’t really know what we’re doing. But don’t worry, we’ll figure it out in good time.”
Part dark, part playful, part mystical, this collection is an unabashedly youthful journey. One of the more enjoyable qualities of this book is the way it deals with human and cultural disconnect, minus the manic desperation. Often the voices present the detached, such as in the poem “Starkweather” that ends with the lines: “Because Nebraska is a headache. / Because the skin is stretched thin. / Because the land is froze and flat. / I comb my hair and grease it back.” Detached, minus the menacing irony, such as the poem, “In Praise of Reason,” that begins: “We made the plan and the plan / is to be happy, it is happiness.”
I love reading first books of poetry because it’s the rare opportunity to approach an author and book with few preconceived notions of what is in store. This makes the reading experience as pure as one is going to get. Aside from brief book descriptions on the inside flap and back (for poetry books, these descriptions often only succeed in making the poems sound pretentious), I was on my own to critique (no blurbs touting McCann’s wit and cleverness from former professors and/or more published friends). A sweet relief, for his poems are more than capable of demonstrating their worthiness on their own.