(Lourd de Veyra is one hell of a celebrity right now (vocalist for Radioactive Sago Project, host of the segment Word of the Lourd, Palanca-winning poet, and recently a fictionist having published his first novel, Super Panalo Sounds). Incredible achievements for a guy with a high hairline).
I got Insectissimo for only about P 150. Plus point for him, for one of the things I hate most is an expensive book of poetry. The book cover is in pink— and yes, it doesn’t get less hardcore than that! There is a fly sitting on the phonograph. Yes, it certainly was Wilwayco’s artwork— the sardonic ‘girly-ness’ of the cover, the allusion to music, and the dirty omnipresent insect-companion of the poor, all in one playful page.
The book was written in English, and anyone who is fond of Lourd’s poetry in Sago Project may be a bit shocked of this feature. But as far as I can see, it was not a mere novel choice of language. Lourd seems to be very comfortable with English, and he hides behind the façade of pretentiousness that English has. For the lack of a better metaphor, Lourd bangs the reader from behind.
“The Pancreas is Deceitful Among All Things” stands out as the clever montage of absurd images. It starts with an almost divine proclamation of the poem’s law (“First to go is grace, then gravity). This seems to me the nutshell of all the whole book. There is neither grace nor decency in Lourd’s poetry. There is no law or dogma that will keep him down. Good luck then, Mr Pogi in Space.
“Wasak. Notes On” is basically an explication of the catchphrase popular among the artists of the 55 Maginhawa. Like the swardspeak lexicon ‘chenes’ or ‘churva’, ‘wasak’s meaning is unclear. Lourd crafted a poem on this particular playfulness.
Many of the poems are musically-related, and Beat influence is evident among them. The pieces “Pablo’s Magnificent Soundworld”, “The Death and Triumph of Rock and Roll”, “Ambient”, MMMMMellow Touch”, among others, feature Lourd’s penchant for jazzy prosody and sonic imagery. While I find these poems difficult to appreciate without the influence of any mind-altering substance, I still appreciate the creative precision of every cadence and line. It is like listening to Lourd improvising over Giant Steps with a Barthes-ian saxophone.
Okay, for my personal favorites: I like “Fat Elvis in Kamias”, a story of an Elvis-wannabe wandering in, uhmm, Kamias. The allusions to metropolitan images are exquisite, very grim and terrifying, but the terror is never an aggressive one. It was more of self-generated and paranoid fear of the dark, the strange, the alienation. Another is “Consumresque”, a play on “Humoresque”, the popular jolly piano piece. Of course, the poem is nothing like the said song. “Christ is Not A God but TV is Heaven and Your Kiss is Hell” is clever, of course apart from the somewhat trite and blasphemous long title. And an effing lot more.
All in all, I would give the book a higher-than-good rating. Lourd’s style is simply fresh, adorable, and at times breathtaking. While a handful of the poems are outright boring, and the portrayal of some ‘real’ events (Lourd’s poetry is very cerebral and auditory) are somewhat unconvincing, I enjoyed it all-in-all. Rebellious, unrelenting, sarcastic and sharp— this is how poetry is meant to be.