George Guida has written a volume of poems about pop, popstars, and popular culture. A glance at the Table of Contents yields a slew of familiar names: Donna Summer, B. A. Baracus (Mr. T, from the A-Team), ABBA, Bruce Lee, Kurt Cobain, and Iggy Pop. The title plays on “pop” in the sense of music and culture, as well as on James Osterberg's stage name, and is itself rich in associative tissue. “Zen” seems to be used loosely, in the sense given by Merriam-Webster's: “a state of calm attentiveness in which one's actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort.” In this way, one can speak of the “zen” of Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, or, yes, even Elvis Presley.

Zen of Pop is bookended by antipodes of the pop music world: Barry Manilow, the subject of the first poem, is contrasted with Iggy Pop, the subject...

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