Dobby Gibson’s newest full-length book of poetry, It Becomes You (Graywolf Press, 2013) is a mismatched collection. Gibson writes of the details of his daily lives. He has many. He is a father, a Minneapolitan, a bearer of malignancies, and, of course, a poet. He really is a poet.
At worst, he is clever. Just clever. At best, his lyrical poetry is spot-on. He is able to make something neat and crushing out of the chaos in which he lives. Not at his best or his worst, however, his poetry reads like a long list of interesting things and ideas. And that isn’t bad.
The book is divided into five sections. The first, second, and forth comprise the bulk of the book. They are one- to two-page poems. They do most of the work. His third section, a list, is called “40 Fortunes.” It’s hit-or-miss, but mostly just clever.
“1. There isn’t an ocean for a thousand miles, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t beach.
2. At the necessary moment, going naked will be your most convincing disguise.
3. If you can fix a lawn mower with a pen knife, you are a funny old man.”
The last section, his magnum opus and the book’s title poem, is thirteen pages long. It bears his signature wit, but it is also highly political (at least satirically so) and highly personal at the same time. It touches on so many of the book’s so many themes.
This is a book worth reading. Gibson leads an interesting life. He has interesting ideas, and he sure is clever.
-Beau Peregoy, Poetry Editor