There's something innately satisfying about Kristofer Collins' tendency to write, explicitly, poems about Pittsburgh and its many shadowed edges and numberless moments. He memorializes bars, street corners, coffeehouses; he tells what life's like from the vantage of Oakland's iconic Caliban Bookshop, which he manages, and where he runs Desolation Row CDs. He even holds dialogues with the city ("The Poem in Which Pittsburgh & I Talk About Ally Malinenko"). Collins is prolific enough that this becomes poetry as journalism, as diary, as the idiosyncratic memoir of a town.
Collins, who's also managing editor of the New Yinzer online journal, has a new chapbook out on Six Gallery Press, another linchpin of the local writing scene. In The Liturgy of the Streets, Collins' default sensibility is tragi-romantic. He writes poems inspired by old movie stars like Bill Holden and Anouk Aimee; poems about being drunk; riffs on hard-boiled detective-fiction dialogue; and sometimes poems addressed to someone he calls "honey," as if this were an antique song. Yet he keeps it fresh with frequent startling figurative turns: "That kiss was an aquarium of quick fins & teeth."
Collins reads Sat., Feb. 28, at The Big Dig, a Six Gallery showcase featuring a dozen other writers including Nikki Allen, Che Elis, Jonathan Loucks, Alexi Morrisey and Scott Silsbe.
Six Gallery's The Big Dig reading 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 28. ModernFormations Gallery, 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. $3. 412-362-0274