“Read Honorary Astronaut by Nate Pritts,” read the scrawl on the wall in the bathroom (italics mine) at The Hole in the Wall here in Austin, Texas. And, being the obedient urinator that I am, I followed the instructions.
I’m not sure how Nate Pritts would feel about how I found his work, but I, for one, am glad I did. The man writes like I’d like to live. With power, with passion, and with an exquisite sense of the multitudes in the mundane. The following line and thought hung in my head for days:
Scientists say there are various kinds of fire but when they burn they all burn the same, a crisis of individuality so deep & desperate that I’m stunned speechless.
His subjects and style vary, but they all carry (like Mariah) the weight of many more words. Admittedly, I write and listen to more poetry than I read (and I’m hardly qualified to critique it), but Pritts’ Honorary Astronaut (Ghost Road Press, 2008) hits me where it counts, and that, to me, is what makes good poetry.
When I was a kid, my uncles and elders told me that we wouldn’t have cars when I got old enough to drive. We’d have personal planes, hovercrafts, and jetpacks. If you were similarly lied to growing up then Mac Montandon’s Jetpack Dreams (Da Capo, 2008) is the answer to your prayers, and/or your queries about where your promised jetpack is. Well, it’s the closest you’re likely to get.
Montandon started this project and story with just that question (phrased more emphatically by his friend Jofie as, “Where’s my fucking jetpack?”). You see, like me and perhaps you, Montandon (and Jofie) had been promised a utopian future where jetpacks would be everyday fare. As we all well know, the evolution of transportation has ben stalled for quite some time. What’s the newest innovation? The Segway (Two words for Dean Kamen: Bicycle.)? The hybrid car? Puh-lease.
Montandon chases his jetpack dreams from Boba Fett to Cuernavaca, and, as the subtitle of the book notes, it’s an up and down (mostly down) ride.