A review of Jukebox Music by Tony Nesca

The musical background is a strong influence in Nesca’s poetry. In the present collection there are references to Stan Getz, Billie Holliday, and Count Basie as well as to more current groups. The musical influence is also apparent in the elision of superfluous words and in the multiply hyphenated words that slip and slide around precise meanings. But Nesca’s pantheon of popular idols is often shown in a wry light as he looks at them, broken and tortured idols of our wasting culture, from the rock bottom of life.

Reviewed by Bob Williams

Jukebox Music
by Tony Nesca
Screamin’ Skull Press
2005, ISBN none, $17.00, pages unnumbered
Also available in hardcover for $30.00

What do poets do in a society that cares nothing for poetry? Some – like Nesca – self-publish. Others put their poems up on a webpage. Readership is not great in any case. Poets from an academic background play a different game, but essentially only friends and other poets read what any one poet has to offer. This is a pity, a great loss, since there are many good poets creating today. Tony Nesca is one of them. He is original and in the best sense tuneful. His range is narrow but his aim is true.

Tony Nesca was born in Torino, Italy, in 1965. He has lived in Canada since the age of three, but spent some of his formative years in Italy until the age of fifteen when he settled for good in Canada. He played guitar in a band until he devoted himself entirely to writing. His books, all eleven of them (poetry and fiction), are available for $17.00 each (Canadian, I assume) from Tony Nesca, 504 Brock St., Winnipeg, MB, R3N OZ1, Canada.

The musical background is a strong influence in Nesca’s poetry. In the present collection there are references to Stan Getz, Billie Holliday, and Count Basie as well as to more current groups. The musical influence is also apparent in the elision of superfluous words and in the multiply hyphenated words that slip and slide around precise meanings. But Nesca’s pantheon of popular idols is often shown in a wry light as he looks at them, broken and tortured idols of our wasting culture, from the rock bottom of life.

These are poems of unease where instant gratification and indifference to prudence are the iron rules of living rough. The voice is startling and addictive.

when i’m happy
when i laugh
when i feel distant-horny-hazy
tears fall down blue sky missing life
wondrous sad feeling
like Georgia on my mind
like third grade mind-wander
teacher angry she cry,
it ain’t all gone i say,
it ain’t all gone just gravel road leading
somewhere tears in the afternoon . . . .

The book itself has some amusing departures. The title page, for example, is in the back of the book. I was tempted to read the book from back to front, but it isn’t set up that way so the reason for its eccentricity remains inexplicable. The lack of page numbers is an annoyance, but not fatal. This is a lively book and highly enjoyable.

About the Reviewer: Bob Williams is retired and lives in a small town with his wife, dogs and a cat. He has been collecting books all his life, and has done freelance writing, mostly on classical music. His principal interests are James Joyce, Jane Austen and Homer. His book Joyce Country, a guide to persons and places, can be accessed at: http://www.grand-teton.com/service/Persons_Places

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