30 May 2020

Motel of the Opposable Thumbs reviewed in subTerrain!

Really thrilled to see a review of Motel of the Opposable Thumbs in subTerrain! My copy of subby was sitting in quarantine on the stairs leading down to my basement, where all my mail goes these days, when a friend on Facebook tipped me off that there was a review in there. Covid droplets be damned, I ripped open the plastic containing the mag! (Truth be told, it'd been sitting there for four or five days.)

The review has a bit of a surreal start, and then it proceeds to say some extremely nice things, and makes points I hadn't heard before, especially about my relationship with the poets I pay homage to.

Here it is:
Motel of the Opposable Thumbs, Anvil Press, 2019 
Reviewed by Hilary Green 
Stuart Ross is a poet of fine proportion. That isn't a comment about any aspect of his physical being. It's all about his poetry. According to a listing of "Some other books by Stuart Ross," this newest one brings that list to thirty. 
Ross is one of those poets who not only reads voraciously, but who also seems to take inspiration everywhere. Really, who else writes a poem like "The Food Court"? With lines so true as: "It was like you had the whole world at your fingertips, my dad used to say. You could travel from continent to continent without ever getting on a plane." Later in the book, the title poems also recalls his father, Sydney Ross, this time in an imagined trip to the "Motel of the Opposable Thumbs"—where else. 
His is an imagination running free, not unlike that of one of the seven poets he mentions and says "Good night" to, Joe Rosenblatt, whom I can only imagine as the inspiration for "Thrifty and Scaly" in which an elaborate scheme "To get into the aquarium for free" involves a "giant trout outfit."
He plays homage to so many friends and poets, isn't jealous of them and doesn't hoard their brilliances for himself. In a poem in which he sees Ron Padgett, he describes him "Like a giraffe with two t's running off the end of his name like the two f's which he said are like two giraffes running through the word giraffe."
He can imitate the minimalist poetry of his departed friend Nelson Ball, or be as expansive as Whitman on acid. His "Toronto Poem" with its "hunchbacked streets" is downright Sandburgian. And in between those poles, he's a man who loved his dog, Lily. He's simply Stuart Ross—a poet and a blessing who is truly one of a kind in the world of CanLit, as demonstrated in the last stanza of his amazing poem, "At Laundromats Here There Are No Dryers":
But the clouds here, I haven't / yet mentioned the clouds here: / they sing these very personal songs / about wronging and being / wronged. They smoke a lot / of cigarettes. You can hear it. / And I sing along though I have / no voice. I sing with my eyes.
Over and out.


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