The Jill Kelly Poems

By Bert Almon

A review of The Jill Kelly Poems by Alessandro Porco

Published on October 1, 2005

The Jill Kelly Poems
Alessandro Porco

ECW Press
$16.95
paper
60pp
1-55022-687-8

Alessandro Porco’s strategy is the polar opposite of Solway’s euphemisms: his title sequence deals as explicitly as possible with Jill Kelly, a porn star known as the anal queen. Perhaps there are still some bourgeois poetry readers to épater, but more likely we are all jaded with the coarse language that Porco flashes. (Of course, the book has gotten lots of publicity.) The best of the Kelly poems are the ones in quatrains, like “Jill Kelly’s Ars Poetica.” Porco claims to be influenced by the 17th century parson-poet, Robert Herrick, whose ditties in honor of amorous milkmaids and compliant servant girls were naughtily suggestive—but delicate in style. Porco handles metres and verse forms in ways that do suggest the elegance of Herrick in everything but vocabulary. Allusions to Coleridge, Campion, Yeats, and Balzac are mixed with pop culture references to musicians and King Kong, showing that Porco’s learning is wide and may turn out to be deep. His sly remarks about the Canadian cult of the Ghazal form are brilliant, and he writes an amusing send-up of the haiku in 23 brief sections. But the book is too brief and has too many throwaway efforts. If a reviewer can be permitted a bad pun in discussing a book full of jokes about porn, these poetic ejaculations seem premature, but this poet has promise. mRb

Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.

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