"I see the world in a humorous way. I think it's a psychological defense mechanism, because I also see the world in a tragic way - and the humor helps me deal with that." - Charles Harper Webb
In the opening poem of his new book, "Sidebend World," Charles Harper Webb leans over sideways, stretching to relieve sore muscles in his back. Head and body tilted, he sees horizon lines, parking lots and ocean waves shift and tumble to his right. A new way of looking at things. From this slightly bent perspective, he built this collection of funny, poignant and thoughtful poems - and largely built his reputation as one of the most entertaining and insightful voices in American poetry today.
As a former rock guitarist turned licensed psychotherapist, poet and college professor, Webb taps his varied experience with wild leaps of imagination and great pathos - whether he's examining the historical significance of Ginsu knives or reliving the anguish of hospital stays with his son. Mundane objects become vivid metaphors, casual observations stir deep contemplations, serious stuff gets humorously absurd - and a fresh understanding emerges to help straighten the bend and maybe ease the pain. As a psychotherapist might say, that's the best way to tackle problems or complicated emotions. From a different angle.
Webb is the author of 12 poetry collections and has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry, the Pushcart Prize, Paris Review, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, and Poets of the New Century. He has received the Morse Prize, Whiting Writer's Award, Kate Tufts Discovery Award, Pollak Prize, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. He is professor of English at California State University, Long Beach, and teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program.