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Book Review :: How To by Heather Cadsby

How To by Heather Cadsby book cover image

Guest Post by Susan Kay Anderson

The prose poems in How To by Heather Cadsby are hilarious, and their titles are satisfying enough, let alone the bodies of the poems. Some examples: “How to catch flamboyant bohemians,” “How to tell if it’s different,” and “How to look at a broken fountain.” Each one offers its own non-advice and leads me to hunger for more.

I love how Cadsby plays with expectations. These poems offer surprises that are language-based without being frustrating to read. They are LOL poems, as in this line from “How to know if your venn diagram is pentimento”:

Golf is geometry as is burlesque.

These are funny and my mind creates illustrations or comic images to go with them as I read. I am challenged by this as a reader and also immensely entertained. Not a lot of poetry is funny. Many times, when poets try to be funny, they start rhyming or sound like Dean Young imitators (even though that is a good thing). Thank goodness to have read Cadsby’s inventions, I say to myself, wondering how I will manage to set this book down and get my mind back.

How To by Heather Cadsby. above/ground press, September 2023.

Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson lives in southwestern Oregon’s Umpqua River Basin. Her long poem “Man’s West Once” was selected for Barrow Street Journal’s “4 X 2 Project” and is included in Mezzanine (2019). Anderson also published Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast (2021).

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