Spencer Short's energetic first collection of poems, the winner of this year's National Poetry Series competition, works like a strong cup of coffee -- it's a stimulant and a balm all at once. Flipping through Tremolo, you immediately confront a prickly stir of humor, philosophy and romantic giddiness; reading this book is something like walking into a kitchen at a party and coming upon a wild charmer you'd never met, mid-gesticulation -- a terrific storyteller, but also one eager to switch gears mid-sentence, mid-phrase, mid-thought. And Short is genuinely funny -- a rare and beautiful quality among contemporary poets.
Spencer Short’s debut collection of poems begins with a quasi-caveat that welcomes readers as it warns them, ‘around here, my dears, no one sleeps.’ Indeed, everything in the book ... from the speaker to his lovers to the summery crickets in the yard ... seems too wired and wound around youthful joy and despair to do anything as banal as sleep. Short’s careful and inventive sensibility has scoured the scenes as well as the language of pedestrian life for the music and subtle ironies embedded in each in order to recreate Tremolo’s world where the moleskin pants of the waitress go ‘swit / sweat /sweet,’ the spine is a ‘scoliotic question mark,’ and ‘nothing means what it did ten minutes ago.’