I own a copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an unbiased review.
Author Agostino Scafidi has a newly-published book called Fancy Pants Poetry. I wondered about the title he chose for this collection and he told me, “I sort of felt like I wanted to make my work stand out, as well as show that I’m not one of those “stuffed shirt” poets … I guess I wanted people to be able to get the feeling they don’t have to be “into poetry” in order to read my writing.” Agostino’s poetic voice is one of a more conversational, laid-back tone and, in his own words, as in some of his other work, he uses “dark humour” and a “biting, defensive, cynical, and sarcastic” outlook to explore the sometimes “bleak” world we live in. Like his other work, the reader is required to think, to suppose, to fill in the blanks, and put himself (or herself) into the mind of the poet which may or may not be Agostino’s own voice. You may be asked to look for “the light at the end of the tunnel”.
One of his favourite themes is that of the futility of trying to fit in when it doesn’t fill the inner hunger to be oneself. Often, he uses tongue-in-cheek to express this. Here is an example:
Let’s Be Irrational
Certainly a punishable offence.
No matter what anyone says about how admirable honesty can be,
Don’t risk it.
There’ll always be repercussions,
Honesty is hated,
You’ll only bear the brunt of the derision.
Heed these warnings at your own peril.
You might be strong enough for this crusade,
Just be sure before you ship out,
Some people won’t ever forget their face to face with truth.
Agostino is a philosopher, always contemplating time and place and our relationship to it. (Not all of his poems are fraught with fighting fears and conformity.) Take this one,
A Place To Go
I wonder what the birds are saying,
Messages floating in the wind,
Everything that sways,
Dancing to a song,
Waving to the sun,
Bowing to the moon.
Hide under cover of darkness,
Silence is a blanket,
Guided by moonlight,
Off to lands unknown,
Who knows if I’ll ever return.
This one is full of hope and beauty, about being open and contented. At least, that’s my interpretation.
Some of the poems are a bit vague. As I get to know his work, I think they’re probably purposely written that way so that the reader can bring his/her own ideas to the text. There’s one called “Roger, Yankee, Foxtrot” that intrigues me. I keep going back to it and reading it through again. I think I understand the idea of it but it almost sounds like army talk, like the title is actually words representing their initials because otherwise I can’t figure out the Foxtrot; but RYF doesn’t mean anything to me either. I guess I’ll be going back to read it a few more times.
Agostino’s poetry won’t be for everyone but if you like to think deeply about things, like what is different, appreciate well-written sarcasm, then you will probably like this book. One of my favourites in this collection is called “Under Advisement” which seems to be about groups, work, organizations, possibly even friends, who are not interested in individuals who have ideas of their own. “There’s no room for your ideas,/Preferences, /They’re all wrong/Only “my” way.” I think it quite likely that many of us have faced that type of situation at one time or another. I love the way it ends: Let’s take a survey,/Why don’t we?” Perfect!!!