This Week, I Read V.C. McCabe’s Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot

Image Credit: Justin Campbell via Unsplash

“New York City poets see their muse’s reflection/in the shiny glass of towering skyscrapers,” the speaker in V.C. McCabe’s Appalachian Gothic collection of poems, entitled, Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot. “While here I sit in Appalachia—the point where/the Bible Belt’s buckle ever tightens the Rust Belt—/surrounded by nothing but decay and desperation.”

Appalachia is a land of weather of mythical proportions—the poems touch on escaping tornadoes, flood, fire, born out of climate change. The collection is a series of pieces about how people survive in an environment which is becoming increasingly more hostile—whether it’s through drugs, potlucks with odd spam concoctions, heirloom sheet cake recipes, or poetry.

In “Give the Bard a Break,” the speaker says, “I’ve crafted a world/for myself, a private pearl/in this festering oyster…/Rushing home to be/ quiet, to be still, to be/a poet, to be myself.”

McCabe presents readers with an alternative option, in a book which is largely about what has been lost. That there is renewal through poetry. Although, the speaker goes on to say, “I love my mountains,/ my people—their strength/and fierce endurance. /But I’m tired of bearing/witness to their sorrows.”

McCabe’s writing is gritty and ebullient, with heart. The Bard perceives the world with a Vonnegut-like moroseness and black humor, combined with the apocalypse party ethos of Don DeLillo’s White Noise, while getting shots for tetanus and Hepatitis at the Piggly Wiggly.

Give the Bard a Tetanus Shot is available from Alcoholic Vegetarian Press this month, and is currently available for preorder.    

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