Book review: ‘Broetry’ by Brian McGackin

You don’t have to read too deeply into Brian McGackin’s Broetry to get an excellent feel for the sort of book you hold in your hot little hands. In fact, if you look closely, the cover itself is a dead giveaway.

“I have finished
the beer
that was in
the icebox

and which
you were probably saving
for Friday

Forgive me
this girl came over
so sweet
and so hot.”

Okay, so William Carlos Williams he ain’t. But in this, his first volume of poetry — ahem, pardon me . . . broetry — McGackin does just what he sets out to do: he speaks for the Everyman. It’s poetry about hot women, drinking too much in college and living on frozen pizza, sure, but it’s also about life.

I went into this book with two fears. The first was that the slim volume of poems is clearly geared toward a different demographic (one not nearly as interested in makeup, handbags and shoes as yours truly), and the second was that McGackin would take something very tongue-in-cheek and cute and try to somehow turn it into A Serious Book. You know — with a title like Broetry, I went in expecting a certain thing. And I got it. The poet doesn’t switch from cute and funny to Serious Artiste in the span of 50 pages. McGackin knows you’re reading this expecting a chuckle and a knowing nod, and he delivers. He’s not trying to spearhead a literary movement. He’s not trying to be the next Kerouac or Holden Caulfield. He’s a writer with an intended audience, and he works that.

The concept of Broetry is that we follow our unnamed narrator — affectionately deemed “Bro” in the cover copy — from his early days as high school senior to the post-college graduation years of eating cheap food, scrambling to find a job in a down economy and begging the universe to send him a roommate via Craigslist that isn’t a complete psycho. Plenty of romantic pitfalls greet Bro, too, as he laments the tendencies of his girlfriends to turn psycho and navigates the treacherous waters of male/female jealousies and expectations.

He reminds me of my ex-boyfriend. Actually . . . all of them.

Though Broetry is mainly McGackin’s loosey-goosey, fun way for readers to laugh at their own (or a boyfriend’s) expense, he does touch on plenty of challenges facing quarter-lifers. As Bro is born in 1985, he informs us, I could definitely relate to many of his fears and felt a kinship with our narrator. Written in a conversational, free-form style, the book felt like reading the diary of a friend. Or journal, I mean; God knows calling a dude’s writings a “diary” just wouldn’t sit well.

My favorite poem is definitely “You and Me and the Absurd Amount of Baggage You Brought into This Relationship Makes Three.” It’s also one of the longest — so I’ll share my favorite portions.

“Toothbrush: check. Deodorant: check.
Passport: check. Travel-size carton
of Q-tips: check. Mini-toothpaste: check.
Regular-size toothbrush: check. Book
to read on the plane there: check. Book to read
by the pool: check. Book to read inside

the hotel room just in case you’ve finished
the other books and it’s raining, so swimming
and/or sunbathing are no longer options: check.
Book to read on the plane coming back: check.

phone charger: check. Laptop: check.
Laptop charger: check. Nintendo DS
charger: check. Ipod: check. …
… Memories of the time you
went on this exact vacation with your last

boyfriend: check. Claims that you don’t
think about him anymore, definitely don’t
still love him, and none of this has anything
to do with us having a good time: check.
Desperate desire to act like his mistakes
don’t affect me: check. Do you have everything?

Check.”

I’d say it’s interesting to get the male perspective and this was an interesting, lithe little book of poems, yes, but you’re probably only curious about it for the novelty aspect or ability to share it with the guys in your life. Totally get that, my friends, and I do heartily recommend Broetry for . . . well, for the bros you know.

I left my copy of the book on an endtable and came downstairs to find it in my sister’s boyfriend’s hands. Eric — a vocal non-reader — was reading portions of it aloud while rocking back and forth in my favorite chair, cackling like a maniac. When I walked into the living room and found him with a book in his hands, my eyes popped. He spoke first.

“What is this?” he shouted. “This is hilarious. Where did you get this?”

I’d accepted it with him in mind, actually. And he’ll be the lucky recipient getting it next.

For poetry fans looking for a quick diversion, Broetry is amusing and accessible. Perfect for joshing with the male acquaintances who claim not to like poetry — you know, if you can tear them away from their video games long enough to joke around. As McGackin himself writes in the introduction, “A poet I admire once wrote, ‘Saying you don’t like poetry is like saying you don’t like food.’ In other words, a beet is just a beet. If you’re not into beets, you can eat spinach. Don’t like vegetables? Have pizza! The point is, if you think you don’t like poetry, you just haven’t a poem that’s right for you. Broetry is a poem that’s right for you. Broetry is a literary chili cheeseburger.”

So grab a napkin and tuck in.


4 out of 5!

ISBN: 159474517X ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by publisher

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8 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Broetry’ by Brian McGackin

  1. Sounds hilarious! I don’t know too many of these archetypical “bros” myself, but I appreciate every effort to make poetry more appealing to a general audience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • I know a few bros and often giggle a bit in their company, but I’m generally open-minded and don’t worry too much about the silly things they say. McGackin definitely feels like someone who could be your buddy, and his writing could be something you’d hear read aloud at weekend parties. It’s just chill.

    • I was worried about the spoofing aspect, too — but I’m happy to say it’s not like that at all! Though McGackin does adapt a few famous poems in the collection, it’s largely his own original (and funny) work.

  2. I have three sons ages 19, 21, and 23. I immediately went out and bought this for them and left in on the breakfast bar where I know they’ll see it and read it over cereal and coffee!!

  3. This sounds like a fun collection of poetry and I love that it is aimed at the male audience. I know I definitely have a couple of male friends who I would love to give this to!

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