Victor Infante's Warhol Days
(from Laura Lionello)
I love this book. Really, I love it. If I weren’t already engaged, I think I would consent to marry this book. Sure, it’d be a strange wedding but you get a sense of the depth of my sincerity…right?
Warhol Days is Victor D. Infante’s eight poetry chapbook and though this is the only collection I have read, let me say that this guy knows his stuff. The pieces here are full of depth, energy, and humor. The variety of writing styles, too, shows his deftness and creativity. The book opens with “Haunted,” and it’s the type of poem that makes you want to be a poet who can write such things. “An American Love Song” ebbs and flows with emotion and wonder. It’s a bit sad but not depressing, and any poem that references Johnny Cash is #1 in my book.
“Elizabeth Speaks” is alive with mystery and longing. “Everyday is a Miracle,” a piece in praise of domestic bliss, caught my eye too and I don’t usually like list poems because they have a tendency to be lackluster and overwrought with clichés. Not this one. The only fault with this book is that it’s too damn short.
Buy this book. Now. Go. Or, at the very least, turn off the computer and go outside.
(from Douglas Richardson)
I resent Andy Warhol.
Andy Warhol, to me, represents the annihilation of compassion in art in favor of ‘nihilist chic.’ His aesthetic: “the joke’s on you.”
I resent Andy Warhol, too, because Andy Warhol would not have invited me to the Factory since I am not hip. I like baseball, for example.
Victor D. Infante, in his chapbook Warhol Days, effectively conjures up the Warhol angst in me. Consider these lines from my favorite poem in the book, “There is No Word for ‘Fear of Culture’”:
We are forever Marilyn Monroe…frozen forever in celluloid
sorcery, too beautiful to be considered human,
Technicolor just off enough not to reflect the vibrancy of
ugly neighbors and relatives…
…this drag-queen, wild-side church, lost to the be-bop of
the alien messiah and the mass-market TV pornography
We’d make artwork of soup cans, and geek-child souls
discard Greek tragedies for four-color saviors…
We are the dreams of Kirby and Elvis and Warhol, all in
color, for a dime.
These are beautifully realized words on the Warhol epoch in which we still live. Actually, though, not all the poems in Warhol Days have Warhol as their subject, or at least Infante wants us to believe this. In the Introduction, Infante acknowledges that the first two of ten total poems in this chapbook are remnants of his old poetic voice, and that another two of the poems are excerpts from his forthcoming novel Nihilist Chic.
Now wait a minute! Nihilist chic describes Andy Warhol perfectly (see my quote of Infante above), and the novel excerpts in this chapbook work well within the rubric of Warhol Days. Consider these lines from the novel excerpt entitled “Elizabeth Speaks”: “The streets are haunted by the living: Here’s one –- blond / boy staring at the television set, nuclear autism breeding in / a brand-new game-show …Twelve billion eyes where stars should descend. Six / billion heartbeats, the gears of machines.”
Yes! The gears of machines. Warhol’s evil vision for us!
The Warhol thread runs through all but the last two poems which, in fact, are very much anti-Warhol in tone, which is to say they are life affirming, or “small and vital, like marmosets.”
Thank you Mr. Infante for writing this line. But no thank you for your overuse of simile in these poems. Similes are an effective poetic device when used in moderation, but when overused, they become distracting like a swarm of gnats in the bleachers at Dodger Stadium. Indeed, the book should be called Like Warhol Days.
Did I enjoy Warhol Days? I can’t say that I did, but this was due in large part to Infante’s effective poetic exploitation of the Warhol milieu. In other words, the joke was on me.
Victor D. Infante, Warhol Days, 15 pages, all poems ©2004, Victor D. Infante, order via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura A. Lionello &