Rich Balling (ed.) | Revolution On Canvas, Volume One: Poetry From The Indie Music Scene

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The only consistency the book manages is the sophomoric nature of the writing, which wants so badly to tap into the poetic ethos that even its attempted earnestness smacks of tiresome literary posing.

 

At first glance, the concept behind Revolution on Canvas is an enticing one: collect writings from indie-music stalwarts into an anthology that showcases the versatility of the artists. What the book turns out to be instead is a tired exercise in adolescent angst, love, and self-pity, gathering a pile of thinly written work more at home on a teen’s blog than an actual book. There is so little to like here, and the possibility of more volumes is enough to make one’s head hurt as much as plowing through the like-minded nonsense artists such as Jewel have hoisted upon us.

None of this means anything to readers who are thrilled by the lyrical musings of Dashboard Confessional–type bands, which is what Revolution on Canvas is: a paint-by-numbers guide to sensitivity. Gathering together a myriad of emo bands, the book’s major weakness is a lack of depth. Whatever emotional heft Revolution on Canvas appears to have is easily dispatched once it’s peeled back to show the true shallowness of the writing.

The book has no real order, dispensing its work in random fashion, with the exception of visual art, which is relegated to the back along with artist contact information and a recommended reading list. The only consistency the book manages is the sophomoric nature of the writing, which wants so badly to tap into the poetic ethos that even its attempted earnestness smacks of tiresome literary posing. Endemic of the entire project is Brandon Bondehagen of Christiansen, who in one of his untitled poems, writes: “Play her a song, brother this one./Screw until dawn./And go on tour.” Languid language continues on every page with heart-swelling bluster, which, although sincere, is a poor substitute for poetic talent—something all too often and all to readily applied to songwriters. Lyrics are not poetry, and the musicians that plug words into music are not always poets; and Revolution on Canvas gives us over 200 pages of why this is true.

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