Oyster Boy Review 10  
  January 1999
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Nicole Blackman

C. C. Russell

Nicole Blackman.
Spy Verses Spy. P.O. Box 534, NYC 10156.
28 pages, $7 (chapbook).

Nicole Blackman.
Spy Verses Spy.
48 pages, $7 (chapbook).

If you haven't read Nicole Blackman's words, you've probably heard them. A featured poet on Poemfone (#212-631-4234), she was also the lyricist/vocalist for the recent Golden Palominos album, Dead Inside. She also performed vocals for KMFDM and Scanner and has been featured on Lollapalooza and on the MTV poets series. So does a "rock 'n' roll poet" have what it takes to write an engaging poetry collection? With Pretty and Sweet, her first two chapbooks, she is proving that yes, indeed, she does have what it takes.

Blackman's work has been called "dark." And it is dark. I won't argue that. But pinning her to a buzz word is dangerous. Throughout the poems in these two chapbooks (the first of a series of three, with Nice to-be-released) Blackman proves that she can't be tied to any single description. The words have a life of their own and feel free to live it. True, she often writes in the voice of someone a little crushed by life, but even then, it is the phoenix voice, turning pain into art. Blackman is not a writer of dark words. She is a writer of human words. These from "Pretty":

And you ask is this okay?
is this okay?
and I sweep soft hands
around your shoulders
dragging you slowly to me
while you use little words
like pretty

and you fear I will feel less
that this will be less fine than before
and what you do, you do
and undo me

These are human words, human music, and Blackman knows how to sing it.

That is not to say there aren't pitfalls. Pretty is a bit short for a seven dollar chapbook, and some of the poems, especially in Pretty, aren't as strong as others. These poems, however, shouldn't be passed over simply as filler. These are collections of a life, not pretending to be something else. The language is grounded yet manages to push through, to bring something mythical into the everyday. Her language and its rhythms push words into your head. This is something all too often missing in modern poetry. This is soul.