The duo is at it again: after their colorful conquest of the United States in Poets’ Guide to America, John F. Buckley and Martin Ott deliver a panoramic collection of poems about TV in Yankee Broadcast Network.
Chances are, you can strike up a conversation with most anyone in America who can recall some experience with TV. Whether you grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons or involuntarily withstood episodes of Judge Judy in the waiting room, you know full well that we live in a society obsessed with documenting our collective and individual identities.
In Yankee Broadcast Network, we encounter TV as it would appear in poetic form. Buckley and Ott produce a documentary in verse where pop culture references abound, and satire mingles with the comical truth about our broadcast-driven nation.
Together, the pair create a sense of déjà vu, causing readers to recognize the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which TV has infiltrated our lives. The opening of the collection, “TV Dinner Theater,” bluntly reveals the authors’ intent by showcasing an all too familiar scenario: the blurred lines between TV and dinner time:
Admission is free, for the most part. Families gather, hunched over nuked entrees and cheese plates, truth told with eyes facing forward. During an episode of Baghdad Nurses, a teenager bruised by jock hands swears to his parents he will enlist in the Marines or go Semper Fi with a machine pistol in his gym class, his father transfixed by boobs, his mother by blood, and his dog yawning on death’s door.
Directly from the start, the world of television is reshaped through imagery that feels much like “changing stations” on TV. The seamless blending of the authors’ words allows them to change scenes without appearing too rigid, while pulling serious punches.
The unique stylings of Buckley and Ott lie in their ability to transcend generational borders. Readers of all ages can engage with the variety of images in this collection—from Chef Boyardee commercials to soap opera divas and Dick Clark ringing in the New Year. This raucous book broadcasts a history of life in pixels—how moments on TV, as depicted in the poem “Screens,” filter and watch us become us.
Grab a snack, sit back, and enjoy the show. – Joanne Mallari and Brandy Burgess
Also available by John F. Buckley: Poets Guide to America (with Martin Ott); Sky Sandwiches; Leading an Aquamarine Shoat by its Tail; Breach Birth.
Also available by Martin Ott: Captive;Poet’s Guide to America (with John F. Buckley); The Interrogator’s Notebook, a Novel.