Woodstock Times Review of “Acrostic Woodstock”

(Woodstock Times review by Paul Smart, November 26, 2015)

Will Nixon’s Acrostic Woodstock, published through he and fellow poet/flaneur Michael Perkins’ Bushwhack Books comes from one of those self-dares that have a way of freeing up one’s creativity from past triumphs. It’s focus is tight: each work captures another aspect of the town he’s become such a part of, Woodstock (and many of the poems have appeared in this paper). The style is simple on the surface: those acrostics were each line starts with one of the letters of the poem’s title. Within that universe, though, Nixon explores worlds of rhythms, stylistic flourishes, witticisms and deep understandings of both the inner and outer worlds he (and all of us) inhabit.

You need the layout of the man’s verse to do the work full justice, as in “Enjoy Woodstock,” the first of his experiments in the form this book celebrates…

Enter a
Nation without a name.
Join the
Occupation of
Yelling with ridiculous joy.

We all need
Other versions of
Don’t believe the
Shadows or the
Certainty can
Kill your crazy dreams.

In a heartfelt memoir-like introduction, Nixon speaks about the ways in which his style here shifted with each poem, reflecting the challenges invoked with writing poetry not only for a very specific audience, the way so many write love letters, but also a form that demands its own sense of play. Witness his paean to “Maverick Family Health”…

My toe is
All right. My
Veins have nothing to say. My
Esophagus is proud of its history. My
Right ventricle gets along with my left. My
Intestines have seen more than I care to remember. My
Cranium has been measured for both genius and intemperance. My
Knees will never be as limber as a child’s, but my
Face gets better with age, and my
Asshole doesn’t itch like it used to, thanks to your cream. Now
I be
Left in peace to
Yip and yowl and yell at the moon? My
Health needs an occasional night of insanity. My
Enthusiasm is dying of politeness on your padded table. My
Ambition has given enough blood at the lab. My
Lying cures more than you realize. My
Temper outranks your wall chart. May I ask if you remember
Heather, the nurse, who had such a way with a needle?

We expect this to become a big seller this season, and all that follow, as he and Perkins’ Walking Woodstock: Journeys into the Wild Heart of America’s Most Famous Small Town, especially given the wealth of subjects, and truly local references (including some great notes at the book’s end), it includes.

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