Millennial Teeth by Dan Albergotti
Southern Illinois University Press (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry). 2014.
Millennial Teeth is a book of poems, written by Dan Albergotti. He has received praise for his poems being sorrowful, but filled with the promise of eventual hope and passion. They have also been noted for being spewed with religious undertones, which definitely show throughout this collection. It’s split up into three parts, but I didn’t find a specific reason for that way of structuring the book. The sections didnâ€™t have definitive genres, and there was no story line to the individual parts. Other than that, the way this work was composed really blew me away in a variety of ways.
There seems to be a forceful melancholy to the majority of the poems published in this book. Even in the most juvenile form, i.e. Chapter One, Verse One: “In the beginning was the word, / and the word was no. / And the word trembled out / over sand and snow.” Late on in the poem, the reader starts to get a feeling that maybe everything will be okay. After expressing how the waves crashed during a storm and there were stiff bodies waiting to be defiled, Albergotti leaves his audience with “In the end the word / was only a sound, /a sound no one hears / beneath grass or mound.” The reader can tell that something has definitely happened in Albergotti’s life to make him semi-hard hatred, and he pours that into his work.
While reading through this book, I noticed that a lot of the poems focused on or mentioned God or some religious aspect. I donâ€™t perceive the poems to be devout in any way, but merely a reflection on the fact that there is a higher power. I enjoy this type of open mindedness in writing, and it is something that I also try to include and express in many of my personal poems. For example, in Albergottiâ€™s poem He Believes He Is Some Sort of Savior, he mentions the idea of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Later on, though, he makes the character seem like heâ€™s insane, because thatâ€™s what his therapist thinks: “The therapist indulges such stories, his excess. / It’s part of getting well to craft outlandish tales.” In that way, these poems really hit home for me.
The cover of the journal says a lot about what the reader is about to delve into. Its coloring is that of greens so deep that they could almost be grey, and is split up into three parts. The first states that the name of this collection is Millennial Teeth, which in it of itself is a little twisted, and the last merely says â€œPoems by Dan Albergotti.â€ The middle, however, is what is made to catch the readerâ€™s attention. The cartoon is one that struck me as being very familiar and frightening, at first. It took me a few times of looking at it to realize that itâ€™s the symbol printed on the sides of mechanical boxes that one would find on the side of the road, warning the viewer that an angry mass of lightening would knock them on off their feet if they were to touch it. Underneath this caricature, the background, if you look very closely, is a picture of a leaf that is so zoomed in that you can see each individual vein. This cover definitely depicts the intent of the poems to come. They are angry enough to evoke some sort of intense emotion from their captive reader, but there is also a soft undertone of love and beauty.
A feature that I especially liked about this book was the very last page. It lists 56 other authors who have written short journals of poems, all from part of a series of books called the Crab Orchard Series of Poetry. This means that if the reader felt any type of good temperament towards Millennial Teeth, there are a multitude of others that they can choose from without having to search far and wide.
Albergotti has made one other collection of his poems, along with two chapbooks, and has submitted work to many literary journals. Currently, he is a professor at Coastal Carolina University. Additionally, on the back cover are three quotes from fellow authors about their thoughts and feelings on Albergottiâ€™s work. They have nothing but appreciation for his art, which is what he merits.
EMILY CUNNINGHAM-FIRKEY is a student at Johnson State College.