Original Review: Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair

In honour of National Poetry Month, I thought it might be a whimsical idea to post the first Poetry Review I\’d written during my time at The Punk Archive. I honestly thought, it was the biggest blessing I\’d ever received. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve attempted many styles of writing but, for some reason Poetry is my wheelhouse — as it is the part of me, I could never afford to lose.  Poetry has not only fuelled my inertia for imagination but, allowed me to flourish as a scribe.  Hawaiian Shirts In the Electric Chair by Scott Laudati was the book of poetry, I’d received in my inbox and I can not begin to express the joy I felt upon receiving this email.  I was even more overjoyed when I read it – Scott takes very real issues and writes them from a perspective of true comprehension, regardless of how insane the subject matter may be.  Since writing Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair, Scott added more books to his repertoire which includes: Camp Winapooka, Bone House, and Play the Devil (currently unavailable but truly hilarious and worth the read).

Happy National Poetry Month! 


When I first started writing for The Punk Archive, I never thought poetry would find its way to my inbox for review. I’ve been writing, reading and reviewing poetry since I was thirteen years old; needless to say I was delighted to be reviewing Scott Laudati’s Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair.  I know what all you are all thinking right now: what does poetry have to do with the punk world?  Well, Scott is not only a poet but also a musician who’s taken all of his experience to create pieces that are as poignant as they are honest. 
My first impression was a very positive one. Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair is a beautiful collection of poems which evokes raw, human interaction through poignant and relatable imagery. Each poem reveals a compelling story, and I would like to share a few of my favourites in this review.

Grit

Anyone who has attended university, or any kind of further education, will know how difficult it is at times to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. There is something very prestigious about being a working artist as there are so many struggles along the way before success finds you. Grit breaks down the cause and aftermath of a potentially volatile path. Looking a little bit deeper, to me it also expresses that we all have the potential to be different creators depending on our life situations.  Yes, artists at times struggle to obtain unreachable skies, nevertheless; the sacrifice can be immense, depending on what you are willing to give up and live without.  

Think about it for a moment: whether we are struggling artists who believe in our work or successful artists who have a string of gallery openings week after week, we all house within ourselves the potential to create and define our own worlds regardless of regret. Knowing after everything is over what is really important in life is that little bit of yourself that you want to leave behind whether that is the artist as a creator of works or of children.

My Friend Tom

We all have that friend who stands by us while we are consumed with our passions, who is simply happy to be in the moment. My Friend Tom is all about that: individuals may enter and exit our lives but we always have certain constants that remain positive and eternal fixtures regardless of where our path takes us. What I like about this poem most of all is the rendered honesty: no one ever wants to discuss the darkness that they encounter in life through their addictions.  

My Friend Tom speaks also of loyalty and really being there for someone. Not glossing over what they are playing, singing or saying but being there for them wholly and completely; that one person who will sit and listen to you while you play your music or even read your poetry. The kind of individual that will read you even their grocery list and you will not care because it is their own personal expression, if that makes sense. I always say that I do not like most people so to be able to read it in a poem makes it so very relatable to an audience. I keep thinking I can’t be the only one and clearly am not; just read this except and you will comprehend what I trying to say…

“since the day I’d met him.
and as much as I hate people 
who have figured out how to be happy,
Tom is one
 that I think deserves it” 

Wait For It

I can totally visualise Wait For It. Each one of us on this globe I guess at one point or another feels that we must climb the highest mountain to be able to finally be heard.  I love the imagery that Scott used here:

“There’s not a high enough hill on earth to stand on and scream for God. I can see you. Above the trees. A long blue sky with big fleece clouds. Pointing your finger straight up, demanding first salvation, then a few dollars, and finally, just acknowledgment. But he never shows. How can that surprise you? You were never able to get us on the ground to stop laughing at you. You think God is going to turn the television down?” 
Verity is an important concept; immersing ourselves in fantasy is a wonderful idea but there are serious questions here that are being asked about life, religion and humanity. How many times in life have you climbed your personal mountain desiring to be noticed in a world that is simply consumed by itself? Adding the concept of God makes it more meaningful as it allows us to focus on the bigger picture of layers that are deeply ingrained in spiritual beliefs.  

I guess you can tell by now that I loved pretty much every word. I know from writing poetry and having my work critiqued, that format or structure is as essential as the content. I really like the format that Scott utilised throughout Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair: predominantly lower case, space between the pages is perfect as it gives time for each piece to sink into the reader’s mind before moving to the next piece. His use of lower case letters makes me smile as the free form style not only engages the reader but puts them at ease, tossing certain grammar and punctuation rules totally out the window. I realise that poetry is a dying art but in life we must broaden our horizons and continue to live through writers of brilliant poetry like Scott! 

Bloody hell, I am such a flake: I almost forgot to tell all of you about the music/poetry video that Scott recorded for his piece entitled Stony Hill. I honestly don’t know what aspect of his presentation I enjoyed most: the hyper-hypnotic music or Scott’s bittersweet words that are recited with precision. Have a listen for yourself

You can purchase Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair from Amazon. 

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