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spacer.gif   TOP DOG: CHARLIE ROSSITER
Posted by : cj on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 11:43 AM
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Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .
The Night We Danced With the Raelettes
by Charles Rossiter
FootHills Publishing
Reviewed by C. J. Laity


You can't call yourself a Chicagoan if you haven't heard of poet Charlie Rossiter. He is an NEA Fellowship recipient, host of the audio website PoetryPoetry.com, host of the third Saturday open mic in Oak Park, co-author of the popular book Back Beat (now in its second printing through Fractal Edge Press), and he was even featured in the 2005 Chicago Blues Fest with other well-known Chicago poets such as Marvin Tate, Kim Berez, Charlie Newman, Tara Betts and myself. Rossiter's new book of poetry, The Night We Danced With the Raelettes features work that once formed the basis of a play produced at Victory Gardens Theatre.

Each poem in The Night We Danced With the Raelettes is a short, short story about a time in the author's life when he had his "heart set on adventure". This collection of 30 memoir poems is about the limbo that exists between being a boy and being a man.

I found Rossiter's poetry fun to read, especially because the poems reminded me of my own college days, when I too was a "mass of youthful hormones". Whether he is talking about his "first serious brush with capitalism" or the odd jobs he had to take or the "bourbon snowballs" he swilled, Rossiter remains honest about his university days, with these candid, personal poems.

These poems made me long for simpler times when I too grabbed

a handful of chips
took a swig
of Pabst Blue Ribbon
and called it
a party.


(from "The Last Time I Ever Had Roommates")

I love how Rossiter took me into the places in which he existed and made me feel like I was there:

a place of homemade bookshelves,
yellowed cartoons
and faded photographs,
completely idiosyncratic
as good used bookstores are
and blessed with the sweet fragrance
of old books


(from "Classics for a Quarter")

Men who have once lived in a university dorm will find this poetry especially universal, but everyone will find a little bit of themselves in this book. We have all cursed our own stupidity; we have all been in over our heads; we have found our status in our community rising due to some crazy incidentójust like Rossiter has.

These first-rate poems about male bonding bring back the "reddish-hued sweetness and danger" of growing up.

we were more than a
dorm full of strangers
we were by God
drinking buddies.


(from "The Trash Can Cooler")

and

in all our unfocused glory,
much maligned,
unrepentant,
defiantly undeclared.


(from "Defiantly Undeclared")

Rossiter makes insightful comparisons and contrasts about adulthood and youth:

If I'd known what I know now
I'd have walked her
to the campus shrink


(from "She Was One of Those Scary Women")

The Night We Danced With the Raelettes is a rollicking good time. It is as cool as stealing ice from a motel.

--CJ Laity

Click here to order a copy of The Night We Danced With the Raelettes.

Go back to the other Top Dogs.


**We hope you found the information on this page useful. ChicagoPoetry.com 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 ChicagoPoetry.com Press.





Note: Here is a review of Charlie Rossiter's new book The Night We Danced With the Raelettes.

 
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