Moritat by Joe Roarty



The 2015 Moonstone Chapbook Contest winner, Moritat(German for “street ballad”) is poetry of high octane energy, passionate intelligence, supercharged, insistent blues, jazz and heightened speech rhythms, whose original language mixes dictions with masterful ease- at home on the street and in the stratosphere, a colloquial invention that uses texting’s phonetic spelling, omitting vowels in a way that drives the lines, while his images mix references in our polyglot way. “I hav hrd/americn wrds”. Our violence finds voice in his riff on Kennedy’s murder: Capt. Kangoroo’s head-banging rabbit, “Kennedy’s skull, America’s wars/bangbangbang,” and our sorrows in the gritty soul-reach of his hung over moving lament for Tennessee Williams that reminded me of Frank O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died”, but with a very different, driving energy.


He can be flat out funny: “if i was mark zukerburg/I wdnt hav ths problm”, and he can be prophetic-moving from, in the first poem, how the city uses you up, to the last poem which sees universal horror through the agonized figures in  Greek statue, Laocoon, “wn gods kill thr priests”….and the snake “motion coild on itself,” rises, unnatural, from below….but you need to read and hear these poems for yourself because inside his words is where the power resides.”


Eleanor Wilner

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