Wanton Textiles,
by Reb Livingston and Ravi Shankar
No Tell Books, 2006
Wanton Textiles, the result of a creative collaboration between poets Reb Livingtson and Ravi Shankar, is what the Griffin and Sabine trilogy could have been, if Nick Bantok had really had some guts (read: cahones).  From the moment you see the chapbook’s cover – a sewing needle in bed with a spool of thread, the long dangling purple of the thread’s end spilling out from the top of the bedsheet – you understand this is going to be a bucking bronco of a read.

In Wanton Textiles, Livingston and Shankar trade brief, but highly charged, literary letters with each other. A melding of prose with poetry, the intercourse is heavy with innuendo and exciting in the way it pulls the reader into a voyeuristic role. Livingston starts the dialogue with:

Ravi, driving through the Mojave this evening. Traded a woven belt with a saddle-faced farmhand for a fluffy bunny purported as mohair. Turned out to be angora and I don’t know how to mend these amends or accurately describe surroundings: ghost town or gold mine? Both abandoned, wanton, calling. At this very moment I’m surrendering every shred to a tarot reader, she says follow the graves and I shall.

Waving, Reb

Shankar responds with:

Yes, Lycra can improve your performance
so let’s stretch together and recover
that original shape our creases keep
singing about. You are the free-flowing
silhouette and I’m the classic jailer
with a scissor blade deep in my ankle.

Each character bobs and weaves as they reveal bits of themselves to the other in a mix of entries that springboard off each other. Both voices are compelling with generous dashes of sass and cheek. One signs off “Hushed and Flushed” to be countered with “Yours in effulgence.”

If you can’t have fun with writing as a writer, then what good is language? The epigrammatic quote at the start of Wanton Textiles is from D.H. Lawrence: “Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.”  Livingston and Shankar definitely turn up the heat in this unique and stimulating collaboration.

39 pp.

Also by Livingston: God Damsel; Pterodactyls Soar Again; Your Ten Favorite Words; and The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel / The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel, Second Floor (series, ed. with Molly Arden).

Also by Shankar:  Deepening Groove; Instrumentality; and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (ed. with Nathalie Handal and Tina Chang).

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