35. TOUCH OF THE WHIP. Philadelphia, PA: Singing Horse Press, 2001. 5½x8½" 112 pages. (F)
Offset, perfect-bound paperback. Full-color cover art by Pamela Lawton. Author photo by Katt Lissard. Blurbs by Gloria Frym and Gary Lenhart.
“Gil Ott, in Philadelphia, asked me for a book, and we worked on it, mostly over the phone. He gave me excellent feedback and the structure of the book owes a lot to his suggestions. Instead of a book of poems or a book of stories he wanted something else. We didn’t meet each other until after the book was done and I came to Philadelphia to read with Rosmarie Waldrop and Chris McCreary at Painted Bride. There was Gil, unmistakable, waiting for me in Union Station. I think the book was initially all stories, a sequel to Money Under the Table, which he had reviewed for Rain Taxi. But then—this was Gil’s idea—it became a mix of poetry and fiction. It contains two poems, ‘We Wrote a Letter to Jesus’ and ‘The Gun in His Hand,’ that were written in the fragmented style of the poems in The Origin of the World. It also contains the story ‘G & A,’ which is a short investigation into the lives of Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz. I liked doing the research involved and then using what I could, much like the method I used to write Methods of Birth Control. But different, in a million ways. My favorite work in the book is the title poem, ‘Touch of the Whip,’ a mixture of prose and poems, in different sections, which ends with the story of an Exxon executive who was kidnapped and buried alive. It has no ostensible connection with the rest of the poem, but it underlines everything, and the whole rest of the book as well. The book is dedicated to Katt Lissard.” (LW)