Sibyl James is the author of twelve books of poetry, fiction, and travel memoirs including In China with Harpo and Karl, The Adventures of Stout Mama, China Beats, and The Grand Piano Range. She has taught in the US, China, Mexica, and—as Fulbright professor—Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire. She has received awards from Artists Trust and the Seattle, King, and Washington State arts commissions. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Hard Goods & Hot Platters is saturated with American popular music. Its lines carry a rhythm of their own, alternately relaxed, looping, urgent, melancholic, and Eros-driven. We get an “Homage to Mick Jagger” and a note by a Springsteen groupie, and encounter a notable roadhouse cheek by jowl with cheap motels. Billie Holliday gets her own poem, richly deserved. And the Ramones rate a cameo. According to James, “Love’s some player on the summer fire escape,” and I’m inclined to believe her. Nor do I doubt the wisdom of these lines: “cable and bible / love, save us from both.” These are poems full of yearning, regret, fleeting fulfillment, and burning desire.