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By: Nancy Gauquier
12 Poems / 29 Pages / $5
Weird City Publishers
P.O. Box 8245
Santa Cruz, CA 95061

Reviewed by: Charles P. Ries

Words by Nancy Gauquier is mind blowingly clever, fast, nimble, insightful and fun. As
I read Words, I thought how such new talent could write with this great range and agility?
But then I found out this emerging talent was sixty years old and learned she, “flirted
with theatre, tried stand-up comedy for a year or two on the gay circuit in San Francisco.
They had the best comedy! And they actually let me on the stage!”

She has not been published much in the small press. “I have been published in several
mostly local, now defunct, very small circulation literary magazines that very few people
have ever heard of. And three publications that are still alive and functioning.” I then
asked her how long she’s been writing, “I've written poetry off and on since adolescence,
but only in the last few years have I decided to take it "seriously" (only I don't know if
that's the right word). To commit to it. To trust myself to just keep writing. To not lose
heart.” I asked her how she developed poems in this collection, “Words, Men, and
Worried were all developed when I was doing comedy; Get Used To It and Angry Old
Women were developed as spoken word at the New College Experimental Performance
Institute. Aging Dysgracefully was the first poem I ever read at a slam (The Berkeley
Slam, which is totally gung-ho and can be incredibly intense) and it was the first slam I
had ever attended (out of curiosity) and I went way overtime, but it was still voted the
best poem of the night. So I got reeled right in, and How Are You, The Fence Sitters Ball,
My Muse, and Blues for Paul were all performed at slams (along with the other funny
stuff, which the slammers love). The thing I love about the slams is -- it is so great to see
so many young people caring so passionately about poetry. Any kind of poetry.
Or spoken word or humor. It feels so vital and important. I think it has injected some
energy into my work.”

Here is one example of her work from Words, it is titled, “Men”: “I just could never
understand men! / But then I moved to the Castro, / and I discovered gay men! / Gay men
are way easier to understand. / Most gay men actually want their partners / to have equal
rights. / Most straight men say, “Oh, I’m all for women’s rights, I just don’t like
feminists.” / That’s like saying it’s okay / if you want equal rights, / as long as you don’t
think of any way / you might possibly get them.” And further along in the same poem, “I
did crazier things than that / when I was young. / I used to wear this black fake-fur mini-
dress / with these tight brocade bell-bottoms / and purple high-tops. / And hair down to
my ass. / It was so thick, when I wore my glasses, / I looked like It! / I took acid every
week! I danced naked in a graveyard in Bolinas. / I lived with a musician. / I fucked a
perfect stranger / under the psychedelic puppet stage / at the Avalon Ballroom. / That’s
what youth is for! / I should have said, “Yeah, I’m gonna die my pubic hair purple. Why
not? No one’s gonna see it. ‘Cept me, and I could use a change.”

Not bad for a young, emerging talent with only a few publication credits

Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short stories, interviews and poetry
reviews have appeared in over one hundred and twenty print and electronic publications. He has received
three Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing and most recently read his poetry on National Public
Radio’s Theme and Variations, a program that is broadcast over seventy NPR affiliates.  He is the author
of THE FATHERS WE FIND, a novel based on memory. Ries is also the author of five books of poetry —
the most recent entitled, The Last Time which was released by The Moon Press in Tucson, Arizona. He is
the poetry editor for Word Riot and Pass Port Journal. He is on the board of the Woodland Pattern
Bookstore in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Most recently he has been appointed to the Wisconsin Poet Laureate

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