Words to live and die by …or at least paint across your knuckles in blood
That is what Puma Perl’s latest book sets in front of its readers, and the result is no small offering. Perl’s Knuckle Tattoos is more than just another grouping of autobiographical writing by another New York poet, more than a love letter to senseless emotional geography or some nameless junkie’s horror story, calling it any of those things would be selling the author and the book short.
What sets the book apart is its honesty, its confidence, and its willingness to admit that we all fuck up from time to time, granted some of us a little more than others. Knuckle Tattoos owns the author’s flaws rather beautifully, while at the same time making them in some way the reader’s own. It doesn’t matter that you may have never suffered from addiction, it doesn’t matter that you may never know what it’s like to deal with self-esteem issues, or look up at the sky and wish you could be someplace else, anywhere else, other than your own skin. It just doesn’t matter, because the book hits on so many things, that we can all say that we’ve been there on some level, we can relate. The book offers us welcome company in our darkest moments.
I would never claim to be a skilled reviewer, Hell maybe this isn’t much of a review, but I will say that with Knuckle Tattoos, Puma Perl really surprised me, snuck up on my sense of wonder and left it breathless in front of a broken mirror with nothing left to do, but reflect on my own scatted pieces of memory and while I’ve always enjoyed her poetry, for the first time I feel connected to it.
While owing a debt to the New York School of the 1960’s and 70’s, and to writers such as Joe Brainard and Jim Carroll in particular, Perl’s voice is without question her own and her book is one that I would highly recommend to anyone who is a fan of poetry that doesn’t suck, which is a rare thing in any era.
Knuckle Tattoos is available now from Erbacce Press for $12 pp.worldwide
For more information, visit /www.erbacce-press.com
reviewed by JD