Scott Kendrick’s second book is a dual offering, featuring poetry written since his 2001 release Rhyme Before Reason, as well as a series of satirical newspaper articles written for the underground newspaper The Babylon Express, collected here for the first time in book format.
The cover image features a picture of a hand grenade – apparently reflecting the fact that, “while the book may be small, it sure packs a wallop”. I’m guessing, (hoping) that this might be an instance of the satirical nature of the book influencing the promotional writing that accompanies it, as it does seems a slightly off-key statement when you consider the political tone of much of the book.
That’s because much of Kendrick’s writing is angry.
He’s angry about war, American foreign policy, bullshit Kiwi drinking culture, student loans, and getting up in the morning. I can’t say that I’m too fond of any of those things either, so I enjoyed reading his take on them, despite at times becoming a little weary of his often strident tone. Kendrick is a poet I would like to hear in performance – he’s twice won the Wellington Poetry Slam – and the stuttering rhythms and incessant rhyming of most of his poetry seems as if it would suit a live, almost rap-style delivery.
The flipside of the book – the collected articles from Babylon Express – is a more overtly humorous offering. Like all good satire it’s topical and instantly striking, and some of the articles were funny enough to earn me guarded looks as I sniggered my way through them on the bus. It would be great fun to share some of the jokes with you all, but, like the trailer to The Simpsons movie, that would just ruin all the best parts. I will say though, that it is definitely the only publication ever to feature the words ‘talented’, ‘charming’ and ‘Paul Holmes’ all in the same sentence, and is therefore worth buying for novelty value alone.