ADD TO CART IS THE THIRD of English poet Michael Spilberg’s thematic- and design-related chapbooks, joining open, save as, delete and like, don’t like. Taken together, the poems have a tone that can be darkly witty, self-deprecatory, mournful, and comedic. His work exemplifies John Bayley’s remark that poets write to cheer themselves up and, if the poems are good enough – vital and engaging, in a language whose diction is nothing less than precise – they will cheer others as well, no matter the theme or subject.

A late middle-ager, Spilberg takes on such subjects as desire/lust, Meaning (capital M), despair – whether it be over love or aging – and writing itself. As he does in open, save as, delete, which begins with a poem to the muse, "An Easter Bouquet," so too does he address his seemingly unresponsive muse in "Read for a Hurricane":

Hallo, Muse.
I’m writing because
I haven’t in quite a while as
I’ve had so little to say (that
you would approve of) and
you’ve (apparently) nothing to
tell me or share . . .
. . .
I take it you’re fine, and
I’m okay too and
that is the story I’m sticking with.

Spilberg has the poet’s love of word play though that word play is not an end in itself. For example, "The Night Sky for November" opens with these lines:

There’s the Big Dipper up there ladling out winter bit by bit like a careful cook, not swamping the plate but there’s plenty still in the pot.

This could be a self-contained poem, though its subject is considerably larger, the poet’s sense of existential meaninglessness: "This autumn night is beautiful but cheerless. / I can decode no message in the stars, / and shiver on the lip of an abyss." A seemingly dark theme – and yet the poet’s mournful feeling comes to us in the subtlety of a feminine rhyme, cheerless and abyss.

add to cart
by Michael Spilberg

40 pp, 4-3/4 x 7-1/4

saddle-stitched, wrapped in French flaps, $13

ISBN: 978-0-9574291-2-3

Published by The Ludo Press
London, England
Distributed by Dryad Press

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