Billy Corgan

A writer friend of mine faithfully buys every novel Douglas Copeland writes, because Copeland’s work represents such a totemic level of substandard hackery that it necessarily demands attention to preclude imitation. Anyone who has skimmed Billy Corgan’s lyrics knows that he’s almost poetry’s Copeland. But minus the former Smashing Pumpkins leader’s hot-cross chordage, Blinking With Fists — Corgan’s poetry collection — mostly provides the starry-eyed, hit-or-miss romanticism of a talented high school journal keeper. Corgan is strong when he’s rambling mischievously about nothing in particular (from “Lost Gray”: Collar high/The angles back against the sides/Splitting in 2s we swing clubs/Old fog rolls and hugs/Back slappin’/Paying dues for crackjaws) or considering his late mother’s life (“The Box”). Crowding the wheat is a greater measure of purple chaff: “The Poetry of Oblivion” and “The Poetry of My Heart” are prime candidates for an eventual Pollack Anthology of American Poetry, and too much of the rest reeks of one-off, craftless drafting at 3 a.m. the morning of the publisher’s deadline.

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