Book Review: Fall in re: Verse

Raking up some of the season's poetry collections

Fall in re: Verse

Backmasking

by Harold Whit Williams
Texas Review Press, 48pp., $8.95 (paper)

In certain circles, Harold Whit Williams is best known as a poet who happens to play guitar for local pure pop heroes Cotton Mather. With its compelling connection of musical and poetic worlds against the rural backdrop of northwest Alabama, Backmasking seems likely to grow such circles considerably. Part memoir and part meditation, this slim collection captures the richness of pivotal snippets in time through perfectly pitched wordcraft. Coming to terms with nonbelief in the Bible Belt is a recurring theme. Williams' opening "Call to Prayer" artfully casts doubt on the existence of God while readily acknowledging evidence of divinity in the "slow striptease of sunset." You can almost smell the ale on Liam Gallagher's breath when Williams recounts a snippet of backstage music festival dialogue with the Oasis frontman. Life lessons unfurl backward in matter-of-fact tone. A Muscle Shoals, Ala., mall record-store clerk snickers at an ill-advised purchase of the Charlie Daniels Band's Saddle Tramp. A chance after-hours session at Fame Studios fails to channel the ghost of Wilson Pickett. More trenchantly, we glimpse the shame of a Southern white father paddling his son as punishment for sneaking off with a neighbor boy to a KKK rally. Even in chapbook length, Backmasking exudes full-bodied resonance.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Arts Reviews
Esther's Follies: The Laughs, the Gossip, and the Story Behind Texas' Most Celebrated Comedy Troupe
Esther's Follies: The Laughs, the Gossip, and the Story Behind Texas' Most Celebrated Comedy Troupe
In his history of Esther's, author Jesse Sublett follows the flow of four decades of frivolity

Robert Faires, Dec. 1, 2017

<i>Murder Ballads</i>
Murder Ballads
This blues-infused crime thriller suggests a number of Dangerous Things to Do Outside Shreveport Until You’re Dead

Wayne Alan Brenner, Nov. 24, 2017

More by Greg Beets
Texas Platters
Uranium Savages
Clown Juice (Record Review)

Feb. 9, 2018

Texas Platters
Sean Morales
Call It In (Record Review)

Feb. 2, 2018

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle