At his best, as in this poem
TURN OFF THE NEWS
anxiety gallops through chatter
fading century’s martial insanities
brain struggles to sum up “shut up”
walking shadow slides across faces
dusk over epitaphs
ash hair rusty litanies
dead friends and rain
paradise is an idiot
bones vines cold day
old vulture in airlock
Anselm Hollo seems like the Kurt Vonnegut of modern poetry, forcing us to see the world in new ways, that is, as it really is rather than as we’ve been told it is.
Our whole lives we’ve been told it’s important to watch the news, that our democracy depends on us doing so.
Hollo tells us, “It ain’t so. Turn it off.”
He’s absolutely right. I can quit feeling guilty about not watching the news. Of course, it might be that Hollo’s simply one more old crotchety guy whose backside starts to ache when he’s forced to sit too long.
It’s not a bad sign that the major network news programs are suffering a major decline in audience. It’s a good sign. Perhaps people realize just how meaningless the evening news has become. (Yeah, I know. That’s a stretch. But if they’re watching The Daily Show instead, it could be true.)
When’s the last time you actually learned something worth learning by watching the evening news on ABC, CBS, or NBC?
If you’re really convinced like the networks seem to be that the only good news is bad news, you probably deserve what you’re watching.
Unfortunately, at his worst Hollo also reminds me of The Daily Show, since it seems like many of his poems must have been written for a different audience than me. That’s probably the danger of any off-beat approach, humorous or not.