W. Todd Kaneko is the author of the poetry books This is How the Bone Sings (Black Lawrence Press 2020) and The Dead Wrestler Elegies (New Michigan Press 2020). He is co-author with Amorak Huey of Poetry: A Writers’ Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury Academic 2018), and Slash / Slash, winner of the 2020 Diode Editions Chapbook Prize, which will be published in 2021. A Kundiman Fellow, he teaches at Grand Valley State University and lives with his family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The collaboratively written poems in this chapbook explore identity, masculinity, fame, and music. Partly a mythologized biography of heavy metal guitarist Slash, partly a fictionalized story of the complex relationship between Slash and his longtime bandmate Axl Rose, these poems dive into unanswerable questions. What does it mean to be larger than life? What matters more: the music you make or whether someone is listening? What is the difference between who you are and who you become?
“Amorak Huey and W. Todd Kaneko create lightning / a guitar smashing on stage over and over again / the reverberations on and off the page / that leave you begging for more / but you always get more / of course / plus the adrenaline rush built through dual personas / all reaching desire in this poetry of rock and roll and this rock and roll that is poetry. Slash / Slash is a tremendous collection that seduces in form—every feeling is felt in this jungle—this universe of myth-making and the most artistic brushstrokes. These are poems of heart. Reader, take this jump and let’s go wild wild wild.”
—Dorothy Chan, author of Revenge of the Asian Woman
“W. Todd Kaneko and Amorak Huey’s brilliant collaborative chapbook Slash / Slash is a wonderful celebration of a pop culture icon tinged with wistful nostalgia for the seventies and eighties. If you're a fan not only of Guns N’ Roses’ famous guitarist but also of sci-fi, there are plenty of insider references to Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings to entertain and enlighten.”
—Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of Field Guide to the End of the World
“Slash / Slash is a conversation between two longhairs, post-arena, lingering atmosphere of concert mingling with semi-audible mumble in hearing-loss haze. If Slash hadn’t already turned himself from Saul Hudson into a myth, Amorak Huey and W. Todd Kaneko would have. Their poems reveal the insight that a rock star is the ideal accessory for any emotion or physical space, seamlessly moving in and out of novels, board games, art galleries, and landmarks without letting the ever-lengthening ash of Marlboro fall. Huey and Kaneko are master craftsmen, putting a level of care into each word the way a luthier custom-makes a guitar to sustain that last power chord long after the band has hit the afterparty.”
—Daniel M. Shapiro, author of (This Is Not A) Mixtape for the End of the World