by Rauan Klassnik
ok, Daniel, so why should we read YOUR book ???
Why should you read my book? Until recently, I might not have known, but after the death of Robin Williams, something happened: A number of people took to Facebook and Twitter, and some debated the role of popular culture in our society. One person asked, “Why are we so sad about a celebrity when there are more substantial things to worry about?” Another wrote, “I can’t believe this. I remember watching him on ‘Mork and Mindy.’ I was supposed to be in bed, but I would sneak downstairs to the console TV,” etc. Somebody reminded us to talk to someone when we’re depressed, and another chastised that person for suggesting depression could be cured via hotline.
Like my Facebook friends, my recent book of poems, How the Potato Chip Was Invented, wrestles with the concept of fame. Its audience may include people who areobsessed with celebrities, sometimes to the point of emotional fragility, anger, confusion, self-righteousness, elitism, or many more options. Even people who claim to hate celebrities are obsessed with them, too, taking time to criticize others for their celebrity worship. My poems are about this worship, but they don’t take part in it. Some of the poems are imagined scenarios that humanize celebrities more than we’re used to seeing them humanized. Others attack celebrities who have become a nuisance.
I like pop culture poems that are observational. They’re often written in the third person, the way a journalist would write. Poems can use pop culture as a shield or filter from self-referential expressions of feeling. They can be allegories. They may tell universal stories about depression by telling Williams’ story.
Anyhow, when everyone was writing about Williams—and criticizing others for doing so—they seemed to be proving the point of my book, which you should buy.