**This review first appeared in The Alternating Review's online review column The Coil**
As the medium of poetry continues to evolve, one particular style has been gaining popularity among readers on the Internet, a genre that has been unofficially dubbed ‘Tumblr poetry’ by fans and critics alike. This ‘8-bit wisdom’ is a perfect example of the struggle between the desire to rewrite the rigid, conservative boundaries of poetry and the continued notions of what aspects such as form and subject matter should be like. This genre is somewhat hit or miss, though one worth paying attention to, particularly because it is almost impossible to overlook. There are some rather big names circulating in the publishing industry that have gone from being unknown writers, to having built an image and massive following for themselves. One such writer is Michael Faudet.
Faudet’s first collection, Dirty Pretty Things, is more of a pseudo-poetry collection, made up of poems, fragments, one-liners, and a few longer ‘short stories,’ all in one. Focusing on the familiar topics of love, lust, loss, and the search for comfort and home, the collection establishes itself right away as intimate in a slightly different manner, speaking less to the reader than it does to the author’s past self, the lovers and events that have left a mark.
It isn’t a surprise, therefore, that the mention of kissing and sex is the most common throughout the poems. And for the first quarter of the book or so, there were some simple but touching lines on both of these topics, striking in their honesty as they declared how
Kisses dream of lips like yours. (“Lips,” p. 11).
The writing gives off a naïve and hopeful sort of vibe, at least in the beginning: the sorts of emotions I always look for in a book, the kind that make me become engrossed in it and curious to see what would happen next. And that is exactly what the beginning of this collection made me feel.
The wonder ended up being short-lived. I eventually ended up keeping a tally of how many times the words “panties” and “fuck” were showing up, or how many times I was reading about the same rain motif and unmade beds. The simplicity can only go so far until it begins to border on limited, which was the ultimate conclusion I made about the collection. The one-line pieces stopped being charming after a certain point, instead capturing a thought that seemed obvious and unnecessary to put in such blatant terms, the words taking away any possibility of engaging with the work. It became, with every following page, more like a diary of a hormonal teenager who was desperate to have sex in order to cover up the inner turmoil. The topic is so common that to present it in such an elementary fashion no longer sets the work apart from the other contemporary ‘Tumblr poets,’ arranging words into simple and often awkward lines and strange stanzas in order to, for the nth time, tell a lover to take off her cotton panties and bend over.
What I think Dirty Pretty Things is most suited for, is perhaps a kind of literary foreplay with a lover — The contents certainly feel no shame in the matter. But when it comes to recollecting a memorable piece, I can only think of “The Mermaid” which, in its premise, is yet another story of a mermaid and young man falling in love, managing nonetheless to be sweet in its wording and sentiment. These are poems best read out loud to either a significant other or to someone for whom one feels the stirrings of love. They are neither memorable nor unique, some of them a bit ridiculous and still others coming close to losing their genuineness. It is only the occasional startling line that slightly redeems this otherwise run-of-the-mill collection, a tiny, persistent voice still fighting to remind us that
Love and loss share the same unmade bed. (“Reality,” p. 17).