Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Harder They Come: A Review of Robert R. Gibson’s Erotic

The cover of the book. Image Copyright 2014 by Paul Chandler, 
cover design Copyright 2014 by Tracy DeOlivere Greenidge.

Barbadian Robert R. Gibson’s first poetry collection, plainly titled Erotic (128pp., pb), opens with a preface that at first seems unnecessary: declaring, “Love is…/More than moans between/Two lovers rising from/Heaving breasts/Glistening chests,” it doesn’t offer particularly fresh insight. Even the titles of the book's three movements are overly familiar: Eros, Coitus and Aphrodite.  No, Erotic is far more preoccupied with physical action, far less with philosophical reaction, and almost furiously so.  The late Montreal poet Irving Layton comes to mind—the virility of the man and his verse.

What Gibson’s preface does, if it offers insight in the service of the work to follow, it does by way of alerting the reader to the insistent force of his words and their indebtedness (also made clear in the Acknowledgements) to spoken-word styling.  This is both advantage and disadvantage.  We can see the poet performing on the stage, but will we hear him on the page?

Yes and no.  There are moments.  These are helped by Gibson’s sense of humour, evident in his cautionary disclaimer about not being responsible for “any population explosion” following the reading of his book.  What he is responsible for, will have to answer for, is Erotic’s content. 

“Heavenward” starts absurdly, and is endearing in an awkward kind of way: “I want to sink so deeply/ Into you that/ An excavation crew/Would have to be on call/To extricate me….”  It is soon undone—an unfortunate pattern quickly established in the collection—by pedestrian development: “Body/Mind/Soul…/Completely/ Merging my hydrogen/With your oxygen/Creating a fusion/Producing a new creation....”  The poem falls flat by the last line, when the lovers "Kiss the face of God": not even the punning can give it the intended lift or casual gravitas.  In the next poem, “Galactic,” the speaker asks, “Can you feel it?  I can.”  He may be the only one.

“Galactic,” like too many of the poems here, is filled with clich├ęd imagery associated with sex (“I can’t cool down when your touch/Brings my blood to a boil,” “Our kiss fans the flames into an inferno”).  The problem is the speaker, who is sometimes the poet, sometimes an adopted persona, should be showing us how this happens, not telling it all out.  Instead, much of his plea sounds prosaic when it should be most lyrical: “’Cause we’ll burn together, baby/You and me—just us making love.”  

Gibson can get our attention with rude word play.  The speaker’s/poet’s goal: “To make your kitty purr with just my voice/Fuck you with my baritone.”  Erotic is, after all, dedicated to “the love of my life.”  Except he fumbles when the silly slips into the ridiculous (or vice versa): “Phallus shaped phrases fill you up/Stretch your mind as though you were on top.”  The lack of strong, sustained imagery hurts the piece as we move to a “voice unsteady/Like a surfer manoevering/On swelling surf….”

A number of the poems could lose such lines.  The words in Erotic need more love—more attention to line breaks, meter and rhyme.  Too often, they feel as if they’re tumbling out of the poet’s head or mouth, with no real thought to how or why the next should come or connect.  It’s as if the urgency of the material, or the moment, takes control, and the passion gets in the way of finer expression.  This is a shame—because Gibson has heart, a sense of the genuinely sensual, and clearly seeks to evoke love in others as much as he craves it for himself.

But he may need to think further about what that evocation means to men and women, and move beyond the strictly personal.  Erotica benefits as much from restraint, and the sweet unbearable tension it can cause, as from frank, honest or explicit desire. 

To forget this can result in unintentionally crude opening lines, such as these from “Cooking”: “Fingers slip inside your sauce/Stirring with the fervour of a master chef….”  Shouldn’t the fervour depend on what the master chef is making, or on what he’s hoping to stir up?  The limitation of Gibson’s approach in Erotic is that it too often misses that identification with the other’s soul or heart.  The few women given voice are not wholly convincing (see “Play Me,” for instance), because Erotic generally avoids the sharing of thoughts and feelings, of ideas and concepts, between lovers.  The poems are almost always about what the speaker will do and how that makes him feel. 

“Conquest” and a few others buck against this trend.  The metaphor of “the explorer” and “the explored” (or to be discovered) does get muddled, here.  Gibson can be frustratingly rambling and un-arousing.  And yet this poem is about more than intercourse: “Seeking veiled treasure/Hidden behind the unknown./Making sojourn as musky heat rises--/Passion’s noon.”  Intermittently, it is about the power dynamics prevalent among the sexes, the human instinct for supremacy, and possibly about the vestiges of colonialism still loitering in inter-personal relationships among Caribbean people.  “Vulnerable” is similarly successful, though its sentiment carries the piece more so than its language.  When Gibson is overwrought, with the words exhibiting very little of poetry’s necessary trappings, he can make you yearn for the simplicity of a Hallmark card.  But he does better with shorter verse.  “First/Last” shows promise, mainly in its use of narrative voice.  “Sun Salutation,” a near sonnet, reads like a worthy dirty limerick (“Naked, I wake, stiff rod in air,/Waiting for you to place your lips there.”) 

Gibson’s enthusiasm and colloquialisms are easy to appreciate.  In his commitment to keep it hard, he manages to keep it real.  It’s an attractive trait all on its own.  What fails to enhance Erotic, despite stand-out pieces by Michelle Cox and DJ Simmons (who reminds us “That it ain’t just ’bout sex…/I want to make love with your poetry.”), is the inclusion of work by other poets.  It’s a further mistake on Gibson’s part to close the collection with words other than his own, particularly when those words are weak.  Instead, readers will wish Gibson’s energies and skills had been more distilled.  The attempt at a collection that delivers what Bajans might call non-stop fooping could have been sharper if there had been more sexual nuance, and far keener editing.  There is a narrative—and a truly fine one—that should have shaped this collection more fully.  Not the one about “Locking and wrestling you to submission,” rather the one about the efforts of a poet to coax a shy or reluctant lover out of her doubtful reserve.  The one that tends to get lost amid so much display of ardour.        


·         Robert is the critically acclaimed author of the NBM Amerotica titles Attractive Forces, Stray Moonbeams and Great Moves.  His other books include the novel And Sometimes They Fly; the story collections Intimacy 101: Rooms & Suites, The Tree of Youth and Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; and the memoir Sand for Snow: A Caribbean-Canadian Chronicle.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Michelle by Felipe Matos and Cornnell Clarke

"I'm Starving..." ~ Michelle


Haven't posted anything here in quite some time... Here's a look at a graphic novel proposal that I'm working on called Michelle. I've had it on the shelf for quite awhile but, now that I'm finished up with Peanut Butter (for now) maybe this is the time to give it another look. The pages you see here will (most likely) be different once published, the writer (Felipe Matos) and I haven't even come to a final decision regarding if the book will be in color or not. 

Next as far as this project is concerned, I'll be working on Model Sheets for the various characters. I want to give everyone, especially the main characters, a consistent and distinctive look throughout the book. 



Plus, Felipe and I have to work on plotting out the book, although we've done that before, giving the plot a  look with new eyes (after all this time), we have a slew of new ideas we want to incorporate into the book. Also, and at least as important, I've got to figure out a way to balance the quality of the work with the time it takes me to finish a page. Can't keep having the delays on this book that I had with Peanut Butter Vol. 8...

As you can see or at least suspect this is going to be quite an undertaking but, for now, tell me what you think!

More to cum soon!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lady Jane and Sir Thomas: What Lovers Name Their Partners’ Privates


Heaven & Earth. Copyright 2015 by Fern Logan.

From the archives: this article was originally published in the Fall 1994 issue of Eidos.

Not long ago, one of my cousins confided to me that she has named her breasts “Sylvester” and “Tweety” for her lover.  Sometime before that, I was surprised to discover that my best friend respectfully calls his wife’s vagina “Lady Guidevere” and she affectionately calls his penis “Sir Cumalot.”  And for reasons entirely her own, my girlfriend refers to her backside as “Morgan” when she wants to tempt me with it.

It seems we men and women can’t help but find pet names for our privates in general and those of our partners in particular.  Two famous examples in literature are the saucy Wife of Bath and Lady Chatterley’s bold lover.

In The Canterbury Tales, the five times married Wife of Bath talks unabashedly about the many pleasures of her “belle chose” in her “Prologue.”  “So help me God, I was a lusty one,/ and fair and rich and young and well off;/ and truly, as my husbands told me,/ I had the best quoniam [quim] that might be,” she boasts.

And in a scene from Lady Chatterley’s Lover, this is what Mellors says in a rude Northern English dialect moments before entering Connie: “John Thomas!  Dost want her?  Dost want my lady Jane?  Tha’s dipped me in again, tha hast.  Ay, an’ tha comes up smiling!—Ax her then!  Ax lady Jane!  Say: Lift up your heads, o ye gates, that the king of glory may come in….  Tell lady Jane tha wants cunt.”

If ever two writers could pen truly bawdy passages, they were Geoffrey Chaucer and D.H. Lawrence.

Yet despite these great precedents, the question remains: Why use what some sex researchers call “cute euphemisms” in the first place?

For JoAnne, a 35-year-old software designer, the naming began with herself when she was a precocious little girl of about four.  She remembers being fascinated by the human penis, thinking it easier to clean than a vagina and more convenient to use.  “It seemed like the thing to have and I felt that I had had one,” perhaps, she said, in a previous life as a man.  Since she wanted to have a penis but obviously couldn’t, naming her own make-believe one, JoAnne thought, was one way to go about it.

“My father [an Irishman] was very poetic and he used to write a lot of very proper British type of poems mocking the royalty in England, so I had all these royal names for it.  My first one was ‘Lord Willywog.’”  There was a king named William her father loved to denigrate.  And to her, “Willywog was this foolish, dinky little thing that did absolutely nothing but hang about, had a life of leisure.”

This theme carried over from childhood into adulthood.  “The Royal Subject” was ascribed to the penis of the first man she dated after her divorce seven years ago.  (“That was a favourite for a long time.”)  Then there was “Sir Bonsai,” the name given to her next lover’s member.

“I did a lot of gardening,” JoAnne explained, “and I know that bonsai trees are handed down through generations and generations in the Orient.  And it’s something that has taken generations to become the perfect—what’s the word I’m looking for?—object that it is.”  She laughed.  “I felt the same consideration was worthy of a penis.”

Most of these names were used “any old time,” JoAnne said: while watching TV with her lover or after sex.  The Royal Subject just smiled in response.  Sir Bonsai reciprocated, calling her vagina his “Little Bouncy Bunny.”

Although JoAnne was obsessed with penises long before she met her ex-husband, she associates part of her mania with the fact that for most of their twelve-year marriage “there wasn’t any regular sex”; two or three times a year, if at all.  “I think it’s really unfortunate that so many people are so inhibited sexually,” she said, reflecting on her ex-husband.  “Even when they have had the same partner for years and years, they don’t seem to be able to relax and just look at [sex] for the wonderful, pleasuring joy that it can be.”

What many forget is that “it’s a give and take,” said Cathcart, a 33-year-old graphic designer.  “I find the act of lovemaking—of intercourse—very, very special.  So I’m not one to sit around and go, ‘Oh, I haven’t had it for such a long time.’  But when it does happen, I revel in it, and I hope my partner revels in it at the same time.”  Cathcart finds cute euphemisms a way for men and women to let down their guards and not take themselves or each other too seriously “during the love play.”  He also feels it’s a way to personalize a relationship.

Cathcart views terms like “pussy,” “hairpie” and “cock” as generic, if inoffensive, and finds cute euphemisms more appealing “for the simple fact that what is described between the two of us is between the two of us,” he said.  “When I talk about Huey, Louie and Dewey, I know exactly who I’m talking about.”  These names belong to a woman Cathcart dated for three years.  “‘Huey’ was for the left breast, ‘Louie’ was for the right breast and ‘Dewey,’ for obvious reasons, was for the vagina.

“I came up with those—and we died laughing,” he said.  “She was describing herself one night, and she said that she’s ‘dewy.’  And then all of a sudden it clicked.”  But he doubts Disney would have been as amused.

“There’s a secret to what you don’t do and what you fantasize,” observed Clifford, a 41-year-old published poet.  Referring more specifically to cute euphemisms, he said, “Certainly people don’t expect this kind of thing.  That’s been my experience, anyway.”  On the other hand, he believes most people use them.  And he considers himself to be like most people.  “Contrary to the expression ‘my mind’s always in the gutter,’ I think the gutter’s always in my mind.  But I wouldn’t call it the gutter.”  He wouldn’t call cute euphemisms cute euphemisms, either.  “I just say it’s private colloquialism.  I use the standard language of thousands of lovers throughout the ages.”

Terminology aside, such endearments have been an ongoing feature in his life as inducements to excitement.  “It was more part of the game,” he said, “the merriment of sexuality, the bawdy kind of humour,” especially after sex.

As we spoke, he recalled a woman with whom he lived for four years in his early twenties.  He drew on his Roman Catholic background to make their sexual banter particularly sacrilegious.  He called his testicles “Cain and Abel,” for instance—“because one hung lower than the other”—and her vagina “Mary.”  “Sometimes,” he said, “the cock and balls were referred to as ‘Father, Son and Holy Ghost.’”  Other times, she would simply say, “I want to talk to God tonight.”  In less blasphemous moods, she would call his penis “Harry” or a name he used, such as “Jack,” and he would call her clitoris “The Wiggly Wanderer” or her vagina “Jill.”  They would joke: “How about Jack and Jill go up the hill and forget the pill and water?”  

“I’ve never been in a relationship that didn’t involve emotions,” said Clifford, who equates the human sex drive with the survival instinct and the quest for God.  “Many of our cultural realities have to do with this incredible action, this discourse, this intercourse, this thing we call fornication—this whole relentless pull we have to be bound to another body.  And then the need to come apart.”

Even if Clifford was speaking figuratively, “there is no universally standard erotic vocabulary for use with a spouse or lover” according to a 1990 study by Dr Joel W. Wells (“The Sexual Vocabularies of Heterosexual and Homosexual Males and Females for Communicating Erotically with a Sexual Partner,” The Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 19, No. 2).  Apparently, they occur spontaneously.

So if there is a constant in all of this, it’s probably the imagination.

When asked whether or not they believe it takes imagination to come up with cute euphemisms, everyone interviewed agreed.  The general consensus was that sex can be anything and everything two people want it to be, it just takes some inspiration: like the promise of a more relaxed atmosphere in bed, freer and frequent sex, greater mutual satisfaction.

Cute euphemisms help lovers feel more comfortable about their bodies and themselves.  And that, more than anything else, is reason enough to use them.

  
· Robert is the critically acclaimed author of the NBM Amerotica titles Attractive Forces, Stray Moonbeams and Great Moves.  His other books include the novel And Sometimes They Fly; the story collections Intimacy 101: Rooms & Suites, The Tree of Youth and Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; and the memoir Sand for Snow: A Caribbean-Canadian Chronicle.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sizzle #64 in stores now!

Sizzle #64 is sure to warm up your winter!
Sizzle 64
Your Sizzle mainstays are back with new installments of Sweet Sins, Precinct 69 and Peanut Butter. Plus, we have two all new series we think you will enjoy!

The Lust of Us
The Lust Of Us

Love Gun
The Lust Of Us

Sizzle #64 is available now! You won't want to miss it.

For more Sizzle, visit  our website.

Monday, January 12, 2015

ANGOULEME 2015

This year I´ll be at the Comic Convention of Angouleme, dedicating albums and originals. Hope I can see you there.

Monday, December 29, 2014

New print from Magenta's Nik Guerra!

When you order $30 or more of books or Sizzle magazine from our site, we offer you a free special print, not available anywhere else. And now, we've added to our existing choices one by Nik Guerra of the popular, kinky and gorgeous Magenta, Noir Fatale series.
One beautiful pinup printed on art paper:

 Nik Guerra

This is in addition to prints we have by Kevin Taylor & Cornnell Clarke.
See more here.
Come and get it!
Unfortunately, as of yet, we only have the unsigned print of this. We'll tell you when we add the signed one, if we can, as we have available by Taylor or Clarke for ordering $50 or more.