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deMOCKracy, by Mike Maggio

By an everyday book reader
June 1, 2007

"The author insists on peacemaking instead of war mongering and mocks the rhetorical nonsense our leaders use to justify carnage as he uses space and even spelling as a mirror of intent exploring the relationship between how we use words to how we act in the world.The world needs this book!" -- Susan Bright, author, Breathing Under Water

deMOCKracyBook Picture
by Mike Maggio

Softcover: 80 pages
ISBN: 9781891386770, 1891386778
Plain View Press
June 2007

Mike Maggio has published fiction, poetry and translations in journals and anthologies in the United States and abroad.

His work has appeared in such places as Phoebe, Apalachee Quarterly, Potomac Review, Pleaides, Black Bear Review, The Arabesques Review, Pig Iron and many others. A special website also showcases some of Mike's work at www.mikemaggio.net.

His newest book, deMockracy, is a hard-hitting, poetic critique of the Bush administration and its cavalier and unjustified attack on Iraq and on the democratic institutions here at home in America.

"Mike Maggio's poems unpack the language of the propagandists, demonstrating how the corporate-government-advertising mafia tries to control language and therefore thought itself. The poems play with us, too. They scramble algebra, advertising jingles, news casts, job notices, the Bible, quiz shows - the whole crazy culture - and give us back our hearts, our true selves. Exuberant, angry, full of compassion - a poetry for our beautiful, broken world." -- Sarah Browning, Coordinator, DC Poets Against the War

Starting with the pre-invasion protest on the Capital Mall in Washington, DC, on January 18, 2003, the book follows the progression of the administration's war on Iraq and on the democratic institutions on which our country was founded.

"The poems of Mike Maggio will hit you in the head like a rock. Considering the state of the world this might be a good thing. Maggio is a political writer. On every page of deMOCKracy he writes with the urgency that reminds us that our house is burning. I suggest one begin with the poem 'Raw Footage' and observe how this gem is the key that turns the lock. Oh, and Maggio's 'Paper Cranes' is nothing short of poetry sculpture made with stanzas. There is tenderness and beauty captured in words that confess to this poet's love for human life." - E. Ethelbert Miller, Board Chair, Institute for Policy Studies

Supported, in part, by a grant from the Puffin Foundation, deMOCKracy began as a visceral reaction to the Bush administration's unjustified aggressions in Iraq.

"Bless Mike Maggio for saying 'Enough is enough.' I've met a lot of people who want an end to the Bush junta but few who know HOW to achieve it aside from violent revolution. Maggio salvages things with a sly combo of comedy and scathing satire. His Mockumentary is required reading for those of us who ask-'Is it Vietnam yet?'" -- Richard Peabody, editor, Gargoyle Magazine

He is also the author of Your Secret Is Safe With Me, a audio collection of poems (Black Bear Publications), Oranges From Palestine (and other poems) (Mardi Gras Press, and a collection of short fiction, Sifting Through the Madness (Xlibris).

When it came time for Mike Maggio to dedicate his latest collection of poems and other writings, his choice was immediately clear: the shining beacon of freedom that is President George W. Bush and his cabinet. "I normally dedicate a book to my wife or my kids, but this time I thought, Well, why don't I dedicate it to the people who really inspired me?" says Maggio.

"A lot of my stuff is not political at all," says the 55-year-old Herndon resident, who works in IT at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at George Mason University. He's got a book of poems, an audio collection of poems, and a collection of short stories under his belt, but unlike these earlier works, deMOCKracy has a tight focus: the U.S. invasion of Iraq. "I was so enraged, and still am, about what's going on in Iraq and what we've done there," says Maggio.

The 79-page collection opens on a hopeful note with a poem about the anti-war protest here on Jan. 18, 2003. "I was there. It was 10 degrees below zero...it was a very exhilarating experience because I didn't think we'd have that many people, and we actually filled the mall to over capacity," says Maggio. "At that point, that demonstration was before the invasion. So we were trying to do something that we hoped would prevent it."

Two months later, the United States invaded Iraq. As the war dragged on and the death toll kept rising, the optimistic tone of Maggio's work quickly gave way to that of confusion, frustration, and outrage. Subsequent poems, most of which were written during the war's first three years, cover such specific topics as a helicopter downed in an attack by an Iraqi crowd ("Two Soldiers") and the beheading of American prisoners by terrorists ("After the Beheading").

The collection's grim mood is punctuated by occasional forays into dark humor--such as the trio of short "notices" that point out the racial and sexual discrimination prevalent within America's own borders, a "War of the Month Club," and a Global War on Terror word-association quiz. Yet, even when Maggio is attempting to evoke a laugh regarding the war's absurdity, his contempt for the administration directing the conflict is always palpable.

"It's funny because my mother was over here on the Fourth of July, and I showed her the book, and she kept saying, 'Why are you so angry?'?" says Maggio. "As a poet, sometimes we write things that are not really expressing our own personal voice. The poetry should be expressing the anger of the nation, and the nation is angry."

(This review by Matthew Borlik is reprinted from the Washington CityPaper)



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