Catch as Kitsch Can by Rodd Whelpley


About the book: Kitsch is the Evel Knievel lunchbox you’ve stored in the basement, the complete set (two issues) of the Courtship of Eddie’s Father comic novels that won’t yield space on your bookshelf, the eighteen sharply creased love notes Audrey Francisco (now gone from bladder cancer) wrote you the nine days she loved you in 7th grade. They are bound in the rainbow ribbon she pulled from her hair, kissed and offered you between second and third periods on a Tuesday in October. You’ve meant to send these things to her widow or children, but you can’t.

Kitsch are those very same things – faded, dank and silly – your spouse and children correctly say are junk. Except they are talismans that not only connect you to, but make you an active participant in, the wider culture of the past and also in the evolution and reckoning of your personal history. In the end, the difference between what is kitsch and what is trash are the feelings we attach.

The poems in Catch as Kitsch Can launch from the icons of our collective and personal pop cultures – celebrities, songs, poets, and pets. With the light, reckless abandon of a teenager, each plays its necessary, dangerous game of chicken – driving headlong towards the sentimental, trusting that just before calamitous impact they will veer away, and, in so doing, become vessels with which to capture the real, unvarnished anxieties, losses, hopes and loves that can tie us to a valued common past.

About the poet: Rodd Whelpley seeks poetry in the everyday world. He manages an electric efficiency program for 32 cities across Illinois and lives near Springfield with his wife, son, and the memories of good Golden Retrievers he has known.

Born and raised in Geneva, Ohio he earned degrees in accounting and English at Walsh College in Canton, Ohio and an MA in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. After a nearly 20 year career as a book and magazine editor at publishing houses, trade associations and universities, he took a position in the not-for-profit public power industry at the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, where he manages an electric efficiency program for 32 cities and allows himself to believe he is also the secret writer in residence.

Early on, he hoped to be a fiction writer. He published a mystery novel, Capital Murder in 2002. In 2015, he began to write poetry in earnest. Since then, his poems have appeared in 2River View, Antiphon, The Chagrin River Review, Eunoia Review, Menacing Hedge, The Naugatuck River Review, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Spillway, Star 82 Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.

Catch as Kitsch Can is his first chapbook.

What are others saying?

In Catch as Kitsch Can the ordinary world of the actual and the inner world of wonder and memory waltz so deftly that we really are sitting in Mel’s Diner even as we watch the show. In these poems the actual is the source of possibility, never its limitation, and of course an Iowa farm girl can pour Lake Erie in a teacup and be all the more real and present for doing so. – Tim Hunt, author of Ticket Stubs & Liner Notes, winner of the 2018 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award

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