REVIEWS
From Porn to Poetry: Clean Sheets Celebrates the Erotic Mind

By Sam L. Garcia

Great writers over time have often pointed out that there are only a few things in this world worth writing about : sex, love and religion. I’ll take sex over religion any day, but when you find a book with a piece that combines the two and makes it fascinating, you know you’re in the right place. "Confessions of a Kinky Churchgoer" is but one of many excellent essays tucked into From Porn to Poetry: Clean Sheets Celebrates the Erotic Mind, in the midst of dozens of hot stories and sexy poems.

I’ve been a fan of both Clean Sheets magazine and Susannah Indigo’s writing for quite some time, and I’m glad to report that she and Brian Peters as editors have done a stellar job of combining the best of the magazine with brand new stories, and have come up with a winning formula -- a formula I’ve only seen touched before in erotic anthologies like Yellow Silk. But I don’t think Yellow Silk would open with a short, brilliant tale of a woman who likes to masturbate while her cats watch, as the cats get excited and help her get her vibrator drawer open, and then are charged with keeping her safe.

From Porn to Poetry is a cornucopia of stories like that, full of surprises, out of the ordinary, writing about the things that matter, with the occasional humor piece thrown in to offset all the heat and intensity -- like "Jitterbug," the point of view of a cockroach who is about to get a high heel through him during a scene. But it’s the intensity that gets to you, from Bill Noble’s "River of Butterflies," about a white woman learning love from a stay with a black tribe in Africa, to a story actually called "The Symbol For Intensity" (Allison Lonsdale), which will turn you on if you have a heartbeat, regardless of gender/sexual preference, and I don’t mean one of those intellectual "isn’t that a sexy idea" turn-ons, but rather the one that runs straight down through your body to where it matters.

David Surface takes on the eroticism of youth in the elegant "Carmen Who Lives by The Lake," a story full of longing and honest emotion that would shine in any literary anthology. Scott Poole offers a charming prose poem following every man’s fantasy of showering with three nymphs in a forest; either that, or the nymphs watching with him as Robert Bly reads Poole’s poems and declares them brilliant, while drunk on coconut milk. Mike Kimera writes a funny story about lust for a larger woman named Lois, while he just happens to be named Clarke Kent, a story which still manages to convey passion and emotional truth through the humor.

Authenticity is the keyword to this anthology, and it's what I look for in anything I read. I couldn’t find a false note in over forty pieces presented, and even when Mark Aster is "tongueing a woman to orgasm while she recites the names of all the North American capital cities," you're sure you’re right there with them and that it actually could happen. I would, however, like the name of what Aster might have been on when he thought of such a great, ridiculous, wonderful, unheard of idea for a story.

I read a lot of erotica anthologies, and I’m often disappointed by forced themes and the exaggeration of the word "best" for so many of them. But I keep looking for the great stories, and for the occasional book that thrills more than it bores. After you finish Susannah Indigo’s final "Tell Me a Story" in this book, a tale of dominance and submission between real grown-ups that twists and turns and delivers the ending of tease and delight that you’ve come to expect from her, you’ll put down From Porn to Poetry and wish only that someone would -- quickly -- tell you some more stories exactly like the ones you’ve just read.

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From Porn to Poetry: Clean Sheets Celebrates the Erotic Mind Edited by Susannah Indigo and Brian Peters (Samba Mountain Press, 2001. ISBN 0971662304. pages paperback $16.95)

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