The Book of Practical Pussies is a dream to review but for the prospect of some businessman at the next table at my little coffee house/office observing me study ink drawings of pussies in bustiers or spreading them as if for Hustler.
Sure, I can tell the businessman, The poetry is really good. And he can argue with equal validity, So are the articles in Playboy.
But, dear poetry-lovers, cat-idolaters, pussy-strokers, sensuous kinkoids, crotch-shot admirers, the poetry and prose in The Book of Practical Pussies is worth a read. Consider: Co-publisher is Lee Ann Brown's Tender Buttons press, and Lee Ann Brown wrote Polyverse, one of the more remarkable - original joyful and true - books of poetry I've read of late. As the friend who recommended Polyverse understated, You really should take a look. She's done something, there.
She's done something here, in conjunction with KRUPSKAYA Press. Nine writers, plus a scary good artist Michelle Rollman, marries lithesome, whimsical, weird and sexy line drawings of cats and kitties and pussies in states of dishabille, of silk dress, and sluttish undress, with word.
Writers are Camille Roy, D-L Alvarez, Yedda Morrison, Scott Macleod, Jocelyn Saidenberg, Kevin Killian, Robert Gluck (with an umlaut over the "u"), Dodie Bellamy and Lee Ann Brown. From Yedda Morrison's "Harryetta the Slum Puss," a persona piece, a bit of a dramatic monologue midway in the book, Harryetta tellin' it like it is, sister.
"Toms are always leaving parts of themselves inside me so when I purr 'OK, Tommy, turn over' and you respond, just by raising your middle, 'No please, I'm an ass cat, do it there, just a hair bit higher,' I do." I say, you don't have to be a cat to be a cat.
So there's that. It takes brass to address sex, its confusions, power and sloppy joys, to flaunt sexuality. The Book of Practical Pussies is brassy. Flaunty.
Camille Roy's "History of the Slut in my Relationship" hints at the feline, works on the issue: "The problem with sex is that it fires the harder life." As the first poem and opening volley of this book, "History..." leaves the animal issue ambiguous. A "spreading butt" is a spreading butt. It's a strong somewhat solemn poem. Opposite is a drawing of a kitty licking her rear; she is all kitty but for one raised leg in a silk stocking with a seam, and a Chita Rivera high heel. You can get things done on heels like that.
Elsewhere is "Cat Scan," one of a series of poems by Kevin Killian. A little silly, that title, but not the whole. "You lie on your back, flimsy gown of paper, / and a cat walks down your body, / your forehead, your throat, sternum, stomach / and so forth, til the tiptoeing creature stares / back at you over his shoulder. / Kevin, you are going to die."
Robert Gluck's (umlaut over "u") smart dialog between Mr. Fox and Miss Kitty began long before Tender Buttons Press stitched itself to his slacks, as "Chapter XXIV," the title of his contribution, suggests. We've met Fox and Kitty before, right?, in an English frolic. This tradition of dressing up the creatures is old, magical and, in Gluck's ("u" + umlaut), piece, well referenced (in the sense of a jazz solo referencing a few bars of the songbook or Schubert). Fox and Kitty are civilized as two Oscar Wilde drawing room snipers. "'The trees and dirt path darkened as your head slid down the front of his pants!' Miss Kitty sat as stiff as a basalt pharaoh. Mr. Fox sniffed the air.' Are you smoking with him?'"
If one of Dodie Bellamy's older aunts, a parent, an incontinent, farting, demanding, selfish soul, needs care, Bellamy has been schooled by living with -or for- her cats for many years. Hers is the kind of sexing loving eating living that is nonstop as life; "Blanch and Stanley" is a three-page single paragraph of cats licking, butting, stroking, demanding. "Fur fur fur fur everywhere and always the stench of urine he kneads my lap he kneads my tit, he rubs his face against my tit and drools."
One last story, Scott MacLeod’s “Pussy in Hollywood,” a series of cat porn stage directions. “Showing us a close-up of her nice breasts as she has sex with a tom doggy-style.” “Having sex with a tom against a sink in a bathroom and then stopping to talk for a bit showing us her breasts." More writers, surprises, drawings.
The Practical Book of Pussies. KRUPSKAYA / Tender Buttons (a collaboration). 79 pages. Paperback. $15. Go to http://www.krupskayabooks.com/bopp.htm for information on where, how, to buy (now).