Friday, January 12, 2007

----------------------She’s my Best Friend by Jim Behrle, Pressed Water, 9 Columbus Square, Boston, MA 02116, 70 pp., $12.00.-----------------------------------------------------Hugh Fox-----------------------------------------------------

Review by Hugh Fox

For me reading Behrle is like reading the me I always wanted to escape from. I don’t know how many people can figure out poems like “Self-Convex Oath on a Tennis Court”: “vote for a black pope...kiss the barcode free Judas Iscariot/by Grand Central Station I shot a hooker.../alchemy alchemy alchemy teeth/5th Avenue is all rosaries & crucifixes/the images keep coming.” (PP. 42-3). Black popes, Judas, hookers, rosaries, crucifixes, Behrle, originally from Beverly Farms, an altar boy at St. Margaret’s church when he was young, the guy is soaked-soaked-soaked in Things Catholic, all the rituals, rules, obsessions, the anti-sex talk.
The whole Catholic thing as if it were in the Albigensian middle ages. And that’s the main thing that obsesses Behrle...along with his sexual frustrations, his immersion in city streets, city life. It’s a war between anti-flesh, ritualistic religion and the hopped-up profanities of modern street streets. Aided by the fact that Behrle fell strongly under the influence of Robert Lowell and was especially interested in Lowell’s writing about his own mental illness, a practice that to Behrle said: “Say it all, the way it comes to you.”
At the same time, though, Behrle is the soul of sophistication and plays poetry games like taking a line from every poet The New American Poetry (edited by Donald Allen) and turning the lines to his own uses in a kind of ridicule of and at the same time homage to the poetry world around him. You could write an essay on every poem Behrle has ever written, that’s how complicated a word-juggler/world-witness he is: “I want what everyone wants./The prongs of the vise,/a climbing italics of ardor. Newsprint black beneath the eyes...I want to know what the dream knows: what I love and why.” (“To My Valentine, for SM,” p. 59).

Hugh Fox/Ibbetson Update/ Jan 2007


  1. In Hugh's inimitable style: makes me want to read Berhl's book and I ain't no strung-out Catholic but both that and his "word-juggling" do appeal. Nice review.

  2. Jim Behrle is also one of the funniest cartoonists satirizing the nepotsm and hypocrisy of the "poetry scene" right now. Check out any of his many . He's much funnier and and more insightful than G. Tod Slone.