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spacer.gif   MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: EMILY ROSE
Posted by : cj on Monday, March 14, 2005 - 12:19 PM
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Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .
Emily RoseCigarette Love Songs and Nicotine Kisses
by Emily Rose
Cross-Roads Press
Reviewed by C. J. Laity


Emily Rose is a young poet with an impressive first book to her credit, Cigarette Love Songs and Nicotine Kisses. It is a collection of poems with a voice that brings back memories of the golden age of Chicago saloon poetry. Rose combines the energy of Tara Betts' Can I Hang? (in her poem "Woman Defined") with a fierce, unyielding, feminist irony that works on the page, but becomes truly whole on the stage:

Use your mouth for my greater good.
Quit your chatter and lock into this
'Cause I'm just sitting here in front of you


(from "Blind Man")

Funny yet disturbing, cute yet controversial, Rose's poetry speaks of the disillusionment and strength of a woman coming of age in Chicago:

There is nothing I learned in college that could have prepared me for my first winter in Chicago as a grown-up, bill paying, out of work, woman.

(from "Pigeon Carcass")

or:

Crayon scribbling of
Kindergarten dreams and
This is not what I expected out of
Real life


(from "Short Attention Span")

Yet the poetry in this book paints a picture of the Chicago woman as strong, empowered, capable of dealing with her own vices, unafraid to love:

I want to master the anxiety.
I want to enfold myself in the fear
And make it my bitch.


(from "Indecision")

Rose shares these Chicago experiences through her poetry with a blunt force that inspires uncomfortable mirth:

Ignoring the leaning tower of dishes
And hiding trash bags outside the back door.
I collapse on my beautiful
Second-hand couch and sink into
The musty pillows stained
With someone else's life.

I look forward to ripping off
My boots and other
Professional costume pieces,
While the girl with too much eyeliner
And bright red hair
Stares at me
From her picture frame
Wondering when she became
A yuppie in Lakeview


(from "Monday")

In the dark alleys and through the daily grind, Rose battles her addictions and finds her blessings:

Several of my friends from college landed in NYC, some head first, and they often conspire to brainwash me into abandoning my city with the temptations of exorbitant rent, a job flea-market, auditions for children's shows, and a closet of my very own. I look around my apartment, my leftovers from family functions rotting in my fridge, my bums and drunks pissing in my alley, my drag queens fighting with their boyfriends in the middle of my street, my excuse for a checking account balance, and the temptation passes with ease.

(from "Hearts and Hands")

The best example of Chicago performance poetry in this book is the five page "I Am Not". It is perfect and personal, simple, repetitive, but energetic and entertaining. It builds momentum like a steam engine and blows out one liners with every churn:

I am not
Perfect
Even if you and I both
Think I am
I am not
Your sappy love song


One part poetry-as-therapy, one part rebellion, and two parts good Chicago fun, Cigarette Love Songs and Nicotine Kisses is a wild ride through one night stands with no-good men. It is the answer to the question "how was your day?" that can't be answered at the dinner table. Rose's voice has its own beat and it is

. . . locked
In the
Acoustic
Illusion
Of knowing you.


(from "Ode to Rock")

--C. J. Laity

For more information about this and other titles, check out Cross-Roads Press.




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Note: Here is a review of Emily Rose's "Cigarette Love Songs and Nicotine Kisses"

 
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