With the Help of Leigh Chadwick, I Review Robert Vaughan’s Askew

Askew by Robert Vaughan
Askew by Robert Vaughan

It’s a Tuesday afternoon. Instead of working, I’m hiding in my office, drinking iced coffee out of a 30 oz Yeti tumbler, and writing, with the help of Leigh Chadwick, a review of Robert Vaughan’s Askew, his new collection of poems and microfictions, while listening to Broken Social Scene’s “Lover’s Spit” on repeat.

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Robert Vaughan has a kind face, and from the few interactions I’ve had with him through social media, he also appears to have a kind heart. This is important to note because his newest collection, Askew, recently published by CJ Press, which stands for Cowboy Jamboree, which means—I have no idea what it means, but it seems kinky enough to assume that it involves assless chaps—if I know one thing about Leigh Chadwick, it’s that she’s a fan of assless chaps, and if you don’t believe me, ask her, and if you don’t believe Leigh Chadwick, ask her husband—and where I’m going with this, I have no fucking clue, except that this has become an uncomfortably long run-on sentence, and now I imagine every reader is imagining what I’m imagining: Robert Vaughan in assless chaps.

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Here are some lines from Askew that Leigh Chadwick is jealous she did not write:

“They hoard stolen names / scare plans heavy with caved / ashes” (“Outlaws”)

“I want to love something. Something without apology, without injury.” (“You Took My Fingerprints and Winked”)

“I told your dad that exits do not exist. / It’s all about blood.” (“Dear Miley Cyrus,”)

“I’m sorry I ever believed / in these cartoons— / I made a mistake” (“Maelstrom”)

“You could have left a light on. It’s just a power plant.” (“The Graffiti Maze”)

“Lately, when I glance skyward, all I can see is Mexico.” (“You Took My Fingerprints and Winked”)

“Somewhere in the back, we have a real human / pelvis, but it’s two dollars.” (“The Dollar Store”)

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Right now, my daughter is at daycare. I miss her.

I am still in my office, writing this review instead of working. Now, though, I am no longer listening to Broken Social Scene’s “Lover’s Spit” on repeat. Now I am playing Jenny Lewis’s Acid Tongue.

The day is long.

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While reading Askew, I keep thinking about the word vignette:

Vignettes of the mundane.

Vignettes of the magical.

Vignettes so I can keep typing the word vignettes.

Such a great word: vignettes, vignettes, vinaigrette until the salad is wet.

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There is beauty in the landscapes of Askew, the spaces and crevices between Vaughan’s stanzas. The emotion in what isn’t said in these poems is just as powerful as what is.

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When was the last time I had a shower beer? I can’t remember, which feels wrong and slightly illegal.

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Here’s what Leigh Chadwick wants you to know: Robert Vaughan has written a special book. A book worth remembering.

A book worth growing old with.

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If you take anything from this review it should be that you should buy this book, this collection of poems and microfictions written by Robert Vaughan and titled Askew. You should also buy Leigh Chadwick’s book, too. It’s called Your Favorite Poet, and it is now available for preorder from Malarkey Books. It will be published this July. You should be excited for July.

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The cover of Your Favorite Poet is a finger gun with a bullet tied around the finger gun’s index finger. The backdrop of the book is colored school bus yellow. It’s a playful and haunting cover. The cover was created by Angelo Maneage who is one of the most exciting book designers out there. The cover of Robert Vaughan’s Askew is more intimate, sensual. It is naked and raw emotion—a fever dream of lust and sadness, taken from a painting by the ever-talented David Carter.

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If I had been asked to blurb Askew, it might’ve gone something like this: “Robert Vaughan’s Askew is a collection built from a heart that knows why it beats. You will be a better person for knowing these words.”

Or possibly: “Fuck, emotions are weird.”

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