Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: 21st Century Wasteland: Birth Chaos Death (Steven Michael Pape) by Dave Wolff

21st Century Wasteland: Birth Chaos Death
Avenue U Publications
21st Century Wasteland is the latest collection of verse published by Steven Michael Pape. I recently conducted an interview with him for Cerebral Agony Zine’s blog; check it out for insight into how it was compiled and how it is being promoted. Those of you who are familiar with his work know he pulls few punches making his point. His latest publication shows him expressing his perception of the world in an inventive manner. His perception is presented in three parts to represent the cycle of nature that perpetually repeats itself, as history often does. A quote from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is an ominous foreshadowing of the written imagery here. The tone goes from innocence to corruption to disaster in a gradual, almost frightening, manner. The beginning of the cycle represented in the birth section feels like an aftermath to something unspeakable that occurred at the end of the last cycle (Killed For Looking Different). With the start of a new day, a sense of impending doom hangs in the air (Cars With Eyes, Cold Morning). The society that Pape sees is no world of sunshine and rainbows. It’s a brutal depiction of the world that has been pointed out by punk, death metal and an endless wealth of poets. Keep in mind that the Sex Pistols were not advocating “anarchy in the U.K.”; that anarchy was always present and the band was bringing it to our attention, without pretense or apology. Pape does something quite similar with his written verse. The sense of impending doom grows with the chaos section (Empty Slogans, Rise Of The Machines) and death section (Life In A Gunsight, This Mouth For Famine), and when the last verse is read you feel you’ve experienced all the horrors society has to offer. But it should be a comfort to you that you’re experiencing it in the relative safety of your own home. -Dave Wolff

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