An interesting exercise – named after one of my favourite cafes – the basic premise being that the philosophy lecturer Meskin, would supply the poet Mort, with some recent philosophical essays on matters of mutual interest (art, tattoos, rock climbing, whether something can be ‘so bad it is good’ etc) and the poet would supply a poem in response. Each poem would then be sent to the author(s) of the original essay for a 500 word response.
There is no sense in which the poems are ‘just fillers’ or give the impression that they were rushed off: just read “Learning to eat” (which is also about falling in love) for example:
Learning to eat again/ is like learning to run/ down a mountainside,/ I mean really run, your/ legs freewheeling,/ your ribs bright spokes/ in your chest.
Or, “Christina at the Super Bowl” which starts:
She’s turning the word ‘brave’ into a highway with no speed limit/ where SUVs with bullbars juggernaut towards the light, / their tiny drivers whooping behind sunglasses…”
and quickly runs into a personal memory of being told “no one likes a show off” by a teacher quick to admonish the young poet for reading too loud in class.
With 10 original poems and responses, this is an enjoyable and thought provoking experiment which has produced the kind of book you dip into randomly and put down and come back to.