“Cool Limbo” by Michael Montlack— A Wonderful Poetry Debut

Montlack, Michael. “Cool Limbo”, NYQ Books, 2011.

A Wonderful Poetry Debut

Amos Lassen

Michael Montlack is a an amazing poet who has the ability to provide us with wit, humor and truth at the same time.He is very sharp and his poems hit hard. What is so interesting is that he moves through literary and Biblical allusions with ease and his topics are totally diverse and relevant.

Montlack writes about his childhood in poems that are the most sensitive in the collection while other poems are more in your face. Nothing is sacred here and I felt, as I read, that I was offered an intimate peek into Montlack’s life. Within the satirical way he looks at himself and his life, there is a sense of longing for times past and I definitely think that the poet’s wit is what makes this book such a delightful read.

Montlack gives us a road map to the life of a gay suburban young man exploring the memories and while some may feel that poetry like this might be classified as frivolous, it is most definitely not. As I stated before the poet’s wit is what is so fascinating because we laugh at ourselves—at some of the insane things that we have done. And while we laugh we suddenly realize that the poems here say a great deal of who we are. I love that painful memories can become fun when handled with irony.

The book is divided into two sections: “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Boys, Boys, Boys” and they rely on each other to produce the full picture. What else is so important is that Montlack, representing the younger generation of gay men, shows us that that not all young gay men ignore gay history and activism and with authors like Montlack writing, we get the sense that everything is going tobe just fine.

Do I have favorite poems? I am not sure favorite is the correct word but there are several that I really, really like—“A ‘Golden Girls’ Prayer” which looks at aging is one; another is “Liz Taylor in Levittown” about the actress’s AIDS activism. “Fire Island”  is a short commentary on gay life and says a great deal in a short poem. But I am being much too specific here because I really do not like to pick favorites and that also says something about the book. Each poem is a precious stone  and when Montlack strings them  together, he gives us a necklace of gems about how we live.

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