Poems in the manner of a religious waffler. Poems suggesting it’s stupid to hate gay people. Poems in the manner of a poet transforming experience into first and third person accounts, which is to say, poems in the manner of poetry. Not to mention “Poem in the Manner of a Beatnik Hipster Psychobabbler Writing an Introductory Essay to a Newly Published
Book of My Poems.” And an actual introductory essay, written by Henn’s former high school student and current editor of The Quirk, Kaveh Akbar. Unacknowledged Legislations has something for everyone and/or someone every someone knows. Buy it for your secretly countercultural but practically mundane, middle class a) relatives b) mentors c) friends. They’ll like it if they’re in favor of a) not being an asshole b) being an asshole c) laughter. Proceed with reckless caution.
Thinking of what to say about Steve Henn's poems, an image came to mind of a chainsaw of tongues, and I found myself scared by my own blurb. But in that image is the energy of this book, the exuberance of a poet who is alternately critical and tender but always driven: driven by play, by honesty, by humor in a way that opens surprising spaces for revelation. More than anything, Henn would speak for those he feels are overlooked & underheard. What he writes in "The Great Corn Detasseling Poem" beautifully articulates this desire: "a tendril promising nourishment/for all unbelieving ears." A promise Henn keeps.
If Allen Ginsberg had mated with the creators of South Park, you'd have Steve Henn. Unacknowledged Legislations is a refreshingly readable collection of poetry, chock-full of humor, headiness, and pathos (because all blurbs of poetry books must contain the word "pathos"). For what it's worth, Henn can consider me his fan.