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“Exceptionalism and Empire”: Bill Shute’s WORRIED MEN AND WOODEN SOLDIERS



Worried Men and Wooden Soldiers (Selected 2013-14 Poems)
Bill Shute
Kendra Steiner Editions CD


the gun store's expanding
while
the cupcake store's
had to start
selling lotto tickets
& offering high-interest
car title loans
to those
who've fallen off
the merry-go-round
at the Pleasure Pier
--from “Guide Dogs and Bartenders on the Gulf Coast,” Bill Shute

I’m consistently impressed with releases from Kendra Steiner Editions, and the work of the artist behind the imprint, Bill Shute. Worried Men and Wooden Soldiers, his latest audio release, features seven poems from 2013-14, read by the poet.

As a reader, Shute employs an unhurried, sedate tone of voice, eschewing theatricality for a measured delivery. Across seven poems, he weighs questions of progress, process, and presentation; security and insecurity; systems of control, the compulsion to quantify the creative impulse, and war all the time.

In an era defined by wait-and-see passivity and lives lived at a remove, something as intrinsic to our makeup as engagement has somehow become a thing to be avoided, even suspect. The poems of Worried Men and Wooden Soldiers are rooted in an understanding that empathy and humanity are essential not because they are pleasant notions or worthy moral positions, but because they afford the greatest opportunity to engage with the world as it is.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014