Some Birds Walk for the Hell of It, C.R. Avery, 71 pgs, Anvil Press, anvilpress.com, $18
It’s funny that the main thing missing from C.R Avery’s book of poetry is C.R Avery. But for the most part, Some Birds Walk for the Hell of It is unmistakably his. Page after page is replete with the same swaggering, devilish sense of invention that makes C.R a legend in East Vancouver’s slam poetry and music scenes. It is the absence of his physical presence, however – his soft graveling voice, his toned diction – that makes this book somewhat unsatisfying to read.
If I felt obliged, I might attempt an impersonation, reading aloud with a smoky voice: “In the black outskirts of night, 4AM spirits rise like dead roses/ from the prairie wind’s fire pit as Cherokee warriors chant” (from “Lime to the Lemon”). Passively listening, a friend sitting in the same room might mistake this style as Kerouac, or maybe Burroughs. My point is not to call out Avery for being somewhat derivative of the beat poets, but to assert that Avery’s printed words don’t translate as quickly and recognizably as his live music does.
That being said, there’s some really solid work in here that will tickle the bongos of any beat/slam fan. The longer poems “Man from Minnesota” and “My Only Tattoo”are particularly great examples of C.R’s raconteur style ramble.
Buy this book and try your own luck at interpreting the man’s legend— just don’t miss seeing him next time he comes through town. (James Gordon King)