Alex Andy Phuong

Book Review:
The Last Tiger Is Somewhere
by Robert Carney and Scott Poole



Title: The Last Tiger Is Somewhere

Publisher: Unsolicited Press

Language : English

Paperback : 108 pages

ISBN-10 : 1950730506

ISBN-13 : 978-1950730506




Robert Carney is a very prolific poet. His poetry collections include Facts and Figures and The Book of Sharks. Within the literary landscape, writers would oftentimes collaborate with each other to compose compelling writing. That is exactly what he did after meeting Scott Poole, which led to the publication of The Last Tiger is Somewhere.

Within the introduction, Rob Carney points out how he first met Scott Poole. Carney explains, “I first met him on October 6, 2000, at this coffee shop near Manito Park” (2). Carney then points out that Scott Poole, “can throw a poem like a javelin” (3). Because of their poetic capabilities, they metaphorically threw their poems “at daily injustice” (3) as a form of supporting anyone suffering from unfair treatment in a world that constantly changes.

Throughout The Last Tiger is Somewhere, Carney and Poole employ a modern sensibility to write poetry that responds to the current political atmosphere (as of 2020). In fact, the first section of this poetry collection is entitled, “A Rough Draft of Ten New Commandments” to redefine that famed list. There is a uniquely abstract quality to these commandments because the seventh one states, “The last tiger is somewhere in our future” (13), while the eighth commandment commands, “The last elephant is somewhere in our future” (14). The focus on the future is both enigmatic and uncertain because no one in the real world knows where or when “the last” of anything would be. Such language implies that the ultimate ending could really be the end of everything.

Throughout this poetry collection, the poems delve deep into past ideas while connecting such concepts to the modern era. For example, the poem, “Take a Closer Look” opens with the line, “Jesus is brown” (1). That notion might frighten some devoutly religious groups, but the end of the poem proclaims, “It doesn’t fucking matter / what skin color Jesus had” (32-33). That conclusion might sound shocking, but those lines also suggest that physical appearances could actually be superficial.

Finally, the afterword that Scott Poole had written reveals what it is like to write poems that respond to the news. Poole notes that, “You have a greater respect for life when you write poems about the news than when you write poems about life in general” (97). That profound realization is how the afterword, and the poems appearing before it, is essentially a “hitchhiker’s guide to the daily news” (which serves as the title of the afterword). The Last Tiger is Somewhere might be very different from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it still reveals how the last of anything could really be somewhere (or even anywhere)!


About the writers:
Rob Carney is author of five collections and three chapbooks of poetry, including 88 Maps (Lost Horse Press 2015). He is the winner of the 2013 Poetry Prize and the 2014 Robinson Jeffers/Tor House Foundation Award for Poetry. Carney is a Professor of English at Utah Valley University.

Scott Poole was for eleven years the “House Poet” of Public Radio International’s Live Wire! radio program. He has published five books of poetry and is now emerging as a visual artist.

About the reviewer:
Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University—Los Angeles in 2015.  He was a former Statement Magazine editor who currently writes about literature, film, and culture.  He has written film reviews for more than two hundred motion pictures for MovieBoozer and has contributed to Mindfray.  His writing has appeared in The Bookends Review and The Society of Classical Poets.  Phuong is an occasional contributor for book reviews at O:JA&L.