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Posted by : cj on Thursday, March 09, 2006 - 06:57 PM
Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .

Cartoon by C. J. Laity.

Blood, Sex, & Prayer
by Jim Coppoc
Fractal Edge Press
Reviewed by C. J. Laity

There's this wonderfully hokey scene in Spartacus. It's the year 70 BC. Kirk Douglas asks Tony Curtis what his trade is. "Singer of Songs," Tony Curtis replies. "Sing us a song, Singer of Songs," Kirk Douglas demands. And Tony Curtis, in a thick New York accent, begins reciting a romantic poem.

Jim Coppoc is a Singer of Songs and Blood, Sex, & Prayer is a big bear hug of a poetry collection, in an honorary Chicago accent:

I choose this life
because I choose this
life because I choose
this life because I
choose you

(from "52")

It is refreshing to see a performance poet take on more serious subject matter, such as politics or the longings of the heart. Coppoc manages to maintain big-image Slam energy (such as everyone in their underwear in the poem "Unemployment") despite straying from the often comedic stylings of that genre. Despite some of the shockingly romantic language in this book, it is still as entertaining as a night at the Green Mill:

. . . I want to
touch you, want to make
you feel what I feel
want to communicate
more than words, want
to give you my world
in stanzas and line breaks

(from "Prayer")


tonight we will breath music
harmonize pulses, thicken
the air with our song

(from "Tonight")

Coppoc shows us his empirical evidence about life, plain and simple. True, in this book, life is seen through Coppoc's eyes, mostly with the use of his first person point of view:

I caress the clutch,
penetrate a lower gear,
smooth back my hand against the throttle
and explode into the sun.

(from "Sex, Poetry, And The Open Road")

And life is filtered through Coppoc's hopeless romantic dreams as well. But what Coppoc doesn't do is start preaching or shoving the moral of the story down any throats. The result is a stark realism that pops up from time to time:

He who once fought the Germans
then Koreans and railed against
the injustices perpetrated upon the
people of these here United States
by our very own God-Damned
Government now fears to eat
caramel apples lest his teeth unglue

(from "Cosmic Irony")

By seeing his reality so clearly, Coppoc is able to capture amazing metaphors that work to enhance that reality rather than turn it into something magical or surreal:

That's the second greatest experience
I've had in a shower
watching stress and worry
scum up
flake off
and dance jerky along the shower floor
toward the metal grate
that covers the pipe to forgotten

(from "I Think My Wife Hates Sinatra")


almost gone, the bone
shadow ballet of your
frame entering the room,
the intimacy of patchouli
in your wake like karma

(from "Photo Album")

In these metaphors, Coppoc sees every breath as a prayer and life itself as poetry:

I would make you a metaphor
of inhaled heat and fragrance
of silk melting in cool waves

(from "I Would Make You My Poem")

This book gets down to the very roots of poetry and philosophy, asking the big questions, such as what does it mean to be alive or is there a God. It proceeds to answer all those questions with that one big L word:

in this moment I know
that she must be my oxygen
that I must breathe her now
forever, that I must move her
with every beat of my hear

(from "Woman Dancing")

And Coppoc has me convinced. Love is the answer.

Blood, Sex, & Prayer is a grand achievement, a not-so-accidental experiment in a teleportation device during which the soul of a street poet is spliced together with the sentiment of the author of Fred Astaire's lyrics; it is fifty pages of blood and tears and a doorway straight into the heart of the author. I give it two big quills up.

To pick up your copy of Blood, Sex, & Prayer check out Fractal Edge Press.

--C. J. Laity

Go back to wonders.

**We hope you found the information on this page useful. needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help:
Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by Press.

Note: Here is a review of Jim Coppoc's new book, Blood, Sex, and Prayer.

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