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Book Reviews

Spotlight on: The Dead Cat Poet Cabal by Gerard Houarner (and the Poet Cabal)

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The Dead Cat Poet Cabal by Gerard Houarner (and the Poet Cabal) Gerard Houarner (and the Poet Cabal),

Admittedly, I've never been a big poetry reader, but The Dead Cat Poet Cabal isn't your average poetry anthology. It was first published by Bedlam Press and released only in the goodie bags at the 2005 World Horror Convention. I got my hands on a copy recently and, having never read any of the series of Dead Cat short stories like Dead Cat's Traveling Circus of Wonders and Miracle Medicine Show (at right) or Dead Cat Bounce, I really was not sure what to expect. What I found inside was a combination of poetic expression and feline decomposition, two things not generally found together.

Apparently, Dead Cat (or "DC," as he is often called) is not a poetry fan, either. In fact, he states very early, "Hate poetry," because he hears it as voices in his head that he cannot rid himself of. Luckily, Dead Mouse, his lover / former victim is there to be the voice of reason, and The Dead Cat Poet Cabal primarily consists of her discussing the various benefits of poetry while he responds in disgust. Occasionally, the reader (whom Dead Cat calls "Two-legs") gets in on the act, and the voice of poets also tries to justify their existence.

In between are the poems (by The Poet Cabal), linked together with discursive interludes by author Gerard Houarner (Road to Hell, The Beast That Was Max) of Dead Mouse and Dead Cat's responses (and sometimes lead-ins) to them. I am really unable to judge the poetry itself, but a couple of them jumped out at me as being particularly good. I enjoyed Michael A. Arnzen's wordplay (and word creation), and Charlee Jacob's beat rhythm. Some are better than others, of course, but none struck me as being particularly bad (though perhaps a little misguided).

The other members of the Poet Cabal are: Michelle Scalise, Tom Piccirilli, Linda D. Addison, Rain Graves, John Edward Lawson, Jill Bauman, Mark McLaughlin, David Niall Wilson, William P. Simmons, Kurt Newton, GAK, Marge Simon (who offers up two pieces), Darrell Schweitzer, and Corrine DeWinter. The suitably gruesome illustrations are also by GAK. There may still be copies of The Dead Cat Poet Cabal floating around out there. Fans of dark poetry (and especially of dead cats) should seek one out. It can't be that expensive -- can it?.

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