POETRY REVIEWS PAGE ONE
COLUMN SIXTY-TWO, AUGUST 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 The Blacklisted Journalist)
Bathtub Gin #8,
Spring/Summer 2001, $5 single copy or $8 2 issue subscription, check made out to
Christopher Harter, Pathwise Press, PO Box 2392, Bloomington, IN 47402.
This is a fine looking journal with bookended by two excellent
articles--one on the library where Chris works at Indiana University, which
houses such papers as those of William Carlos Williams, Sylvia Plath and small
press magazines featuring Leroi Jones and Ezra Pounds and others, and the other
article on the late great Gregory Corso. Chris
makes the point of preserving libraries that house such treasures.
In between these two articles are a wide variety of styles of poetry,
some short stories, and cool illustrations by Dee Rimbaud and Claudio Parentela.
Also reviews by Harter, Tin Scannell, Nate Graziano and Lindsay Wilson in
the supplement The Bent.
All in all a fine read, at a lower price, with more pages than previous
Beat Nights At The Electric Cave,
Word and Music Under The Direction Of Larry Simon.
Beat poetry with jazz music accompaniment,
2001, 66 minutes, Larry Simon, producer and musical director.
Available online at http://www.rockbottomcds.com for $14 or by snail mail
check made out to Larry Simon, PO Box 225, Portsmouth NH 03802.
This is a superb poetry/jazz cd recorded in Portsmouth NH at The Electric
Cave. Most of the tracks were
recorded in one take to preserve spontaneity and excitement, and this cd really
rocks and rolls and bebops and strolls! Dynamite
readings from a variety of voices, most under 3 minutes.
Features 12 performers from New Hampshire area, including Mark Adams,
Wayne Atherton, Michelle Brochu, Dennis Camire,
Mark DeCarteret, Chris Elliot, Allison Harville, Moses Irons, S. Stephanie, The
Rev. George S. Wall, Chris Walters, Kerry Zagarella. Many different styles of poems, rhyming and free-verse, sing
songs, a capella blues, political observations, all vibrant and rich in imagery.
The poets/performers sound as though they are right in the room with you.
I have listened to this cd repeatedly since I received it, I love it!
Perfect for parties. The
best spoken word/jazz music cd I have ever heard.
Kudos to Larry Simon and all the artists involved.
The Caf? Review, Vol. 12,
Winter 2001, quarterly poetry journal, softcover perfect bound, 68 pages, $7
single issue, $24 1 year 4 issue subscription.
Editor Steve Luttrell, The Cafe Review, C/O Yes Books, 20 Danforth St.,
Portland, ME 04101. Include sase
with $1 handling fee with submissions. Website: http://www.TheCafeReview.com
A fine looking perfect bound journal that ranks with the much thicker Rattapallex,
OnTheBus and Longshot
book format journals, with fine poetry from such literary lights as Lyn Lifshin
and Diane DiPrima. This Woman's
Issue featured excellent poetry and intriguing artwork and photos.
This issue featured whimsical photos of a fish up close and a man in a
misty door image by Shoshannah White; fine paintings by Nancy Hannans; and
Rubinesque nude photos by Sarah Helen Harvey. Amy Spade's Lament After O'Hara
reads: "At 12:15 you have not called, and I've been walking around in my
underwear for five hours expecting you. I
will lie alone tonight, troubled. You
are avoiding all of your indecision, the entangling mire of your love.
You will just stay away and that is how it will end, not with the
exasperation or a revelation but with a smolder.
A drizzle. A pale,
ridiculous something! A troubled
heartbeat. So that alone, tonight,
I will not sleep." Fine poetry
throughout, this is one journal worth checking out.
Part 1- Woman With A Hammer, poetry chapbook by Caryl Traugott,
1998, 16 pages, $2.50 plus 34 cents postage, check made out to Compendium
Press, 195 Knight Street, Providence, RI 02909.
Caryl Traugott writes terse verse bristling with the pain of divorce and
failed relationships. Autumn
Blues reads: "Oh Lord, I am so weary of Hurting, Wanting, Needing.
On a chilly October night, chirping crickets cheerfully grind their legs
together mocking my aloneness. Soon
I'll be trapped in an icicle-barred cage, freeze-framed by another New England
Winter and like Ethan Frome of Starkfield fame confined to living death
alone." Caryl is in fine form
here, with just a hint of wistfulness and melancholy that reaches out and tugs
at your heartstrings. A fine
Concrete Wolf, Spring
2001, quarterly poetry journal, 52 pages, $7 single issue or $24 for 1 year
subscription, check made out to Concrete Wolf, PO Box 10250, Bedford, NH
03110-0250. Brent Allard and Lana
Ayres, Editors. E-mail:
Wolf is a handsome looking journal with textured paper and stunning,
well-crafted poetry. The poems are
about the human experience and are some of the best poems I have read in a long
time. The poets are not names I was
familiar with, and I found that refreshing.
Gertrude F. Bantle's I Learned is a powerful view of child abuse.
The ending reads: "?I never learned the signals that would lead to
my sister's violence. I only learned to withdraw into my silenced self, curl up in
that unstuffed chair, disappear into 14th Century England and France
with Katherine and wait for the truth of understanding to come long long years
after the beatings. Patience?
No, not patience, that presumes waiting for something good.
After a while I learned the quiet in the cellar, spider-webs and all, was
preferable to the chaos above and learned to soak well in the silence there to
carry a core of quiet inside me for that long journey up the cellar
stairs." Other poems are about the beauty of nature and life, such as
Carolyn Christie Allen's Poet
Dreaming, named after a painting by Richard Stine: "'she stares
distracted. Only her eyes, pale and
steady, stretch out beyond the lines beyond the clouds to offer her dream to the
world." I really enjoyed this
magazine and plan on subscribing soon. The
poems are alternately sad and uplifting, but the human spirit comes shining
through. Kudos to editors Brent
Allard and Lana Ayers for keeping a high standard of accepting submissions.
Dancing With Demons,
poetry chapbook by Willis-Whyte. 1996,
24 pages, $2.50 plus 34 cents postage, check made out to Compendium Press, 195
Knight Street, Providence, RI 02909. This is an intriguing poetry chap filled
with poems that sort of offer advice on how to live, interspersed with maxims
about life and celebrations of famous women throughout history.
Come Hard At Night reads: "Words come hard at night with only the
eye of my soul as guide! Coveting
the darkness, I egotistically reach for the stars.
Realizing one's full potential is solitary work a lonely profession
chosen when all else fails! Outside
a car door slams and I wake once more from fit-full sleep -- my life before me
-- an open book. Who will stop to
read it?" The poems are
alternately sad and lighthearted. All
are powerful in their sentiments. Particularly powerful was I AM, about Hannah
Senesh, who helped the Jews escape during the Holocaust.
A fine read.
Free Kittens For Dead Slaves,
poetry chapbook by John Sweet. 1998,
28 pages, $3 check made out to Sweet Lady Moon Press, PO Box 1076, Georgetown,
KY 40324. Aah, a John Sweet poem
grabs you by the lapels and slaps you upside the head and shakes you around
before dropping you on your ass. Sweet
must be the life of the party, writing poems with titles like The Land Of
Murdered Cheerleaders, Holy Men Burn, Stillborn Poem, Cancer, and King Of
Skulls. Why is John's world so
reads: "So we drive down to Roswell in the hottest part of the year
two days non-stop with the velvet underground on the tape deck
no aliens when we get there no
spaceships just Indians selling jewelry by the side of the road
and we're told that Kennedy's been assassinated that Marilyn's dead
we fill up shopping carts with the bones of lost sailors carve swastikas across our backs
we walk into the desert and wait for visions that never come
we rape nuns and burn witches and drink the blood of sacrificial virgins
we finally understand that nothing's too sacred to destroy."
"The futility of poetry is a beautiful thing", Sweet concludes
King Of Skulls. Maybe
that's a key to Sweet's dark world. When
destruction and terror and violence are all around us, poetry seems futile yet
beautiful. Intense stuff, worth a
The Last Train Home, poetry
chapbook by Willis Whyte, 1998, 40 pages, $2.50 plus 68 cents postage, check
made out to Compendium Press, 195 Knight Street, Providence, RI 02909.
This chapbook contains many of the same poems as Dancing With Demons, reviewed above, plus more poems altogether
about living life with passion and making the most of what you've been dealt.
With a hint of humour, Whyte
dispenses sound advice. A fine
read, though I don't know why you would want to repeat so many poems.
Reflections On The Elkhorn, poetry
chapbook by Troy Teegarden, 2000,
42 pages, $3 check made out to Sweet Lady Moon Press, PO Box 1076, Georgetown,
KY 40324. This is a humorous
account of reflecting on nature while working a boring day job. Cigarette smoke fills the air, the blue flame of a Zippo
lighter brightens the sky, and turtles sun themselves on logs.
White trash folk go by as the summer sun intensifies.
"Sometimes it's the wind through the trees, the splash of a paddle, or
laughing and talking in the distance. Or
footsteps in the grass, songs of the birds, the crickets chirping and the
cicadas humming. The train passing through or the click of the Zippo. Other
times it's the semis braking, the boats revving or the radios blaring and
bumping. Or horns honking, cars
without mufflers and flies buzzing. Bulldozers
tearing up the land or people yelling at each other. It's best when there's an even mix."
This is a funny, warm, lively read, highly recommended.
Smoke a bowl while kicking back to read it and take it all in!
Reheated Coffee poetry
chapbook by Lindsay Wilson, 2001, 22 pages, $2 cash or check made out to Cari
Taplin, Kitty Litter Press, PO Box 3189, Nederland, CO 80466-3189.
Website at http://wwww.kittylitterpress.com.
Linday Wilson is a fine poet; his poems here sing with a tenderness and
wistfulness that I found refreshing. No
macho bullshit posing here. There
Is a field of sage reads: "We looked over at sunset on a trail just
outside happy jack road eating cheep Chinese take out with balsa wood chopsticks
watching the moon rise I ask for nothing but this image of us sitting on uneven
rocks watching the sun surrender and you bring up Christmas in august
Chinese lanterns on your childhood Christmas tree you bring up the bones
of cattle from this red clay soil you bring up a father with slick hands and a
mother who wields the comfort of shame and guilt like an old coat
I feel more weight to this moment than I can carry it tastes like cold moo shoo pork you put your hair up with chopsticks and pull up your skirt
the length of my smile and ask me to bury all the bones you bring up."
Coffee is a terrific collection of poems about love, relationships,
waiting for the dawn to wash over you. Highly
recommended, at an affordable price, Kitty Litter is doing a fine job with their
inexpensive chapbook series. Collect
Still Life "With Drinks,
poetry chapbook by Michael Crossley, with artwork by Crossley.
1999, 42 pages, $3 check made out to Sweet Lady Moon Press, PO Box 1076,
Georgetown, KY 40324. A gritty, vibrant portrait of the hitchhiker's life on the
road, rich with tales of abandon, nights drenched in sex and booze and drugs and
ennui. Still Life?With Drinks
reads in part: "Paint a smile on your subject's face just don't try to make
it seem like a pretty thing paint a stack of problems but mostly girls put a
tear in the portrait's eye or a little blue knife in the back
cover the entire canvas with gunmetal grey with hints of hooker green
paint an eternal jowl on his face as if he had just heard a good joke &
leave him there, forever with that look frozen on his face receding into the
canvas that becomes almost pastoral. In
a still life?with drinks." Crossley
writes with a world-weariness common among people who have left home at an early
age. His poetry is no less
passionate and is very much alive with the night.
A fine read.
Twenty Shots, poetry by J.
Todd Dockery with artwork by Dockery, 1999, 32 pages, $3 check made out to Sweet
Lady Moon Press, PO Box 1076, Georgetown, KY 40324.
This is a nicely produced chapbook with cool artwork by the author, but
the poems are downbeat and boring and leave much to be desired.
Nothing poetic here, just plainspoken observations on life, 20 of them in
all, numbered in a sort of factory assembly way that leaves nothing memorable,
not even title. I'll quote one of
the shortest "poems" to save us all some time, so we can get on with
our lives!: "I get in the car and drive. South.
I drive to feel the wind on my face and the radio in my ears.
I drive so someone can buy food for me, fried chicken.
I drive to escape, to make my gut expand for free.
I'm a bum. But at least I
got the car." Okay, so what?
Where's the poetry?
Unripe Tomatoes (Poems 1995-1998),
poetry chapbook by Troy Teegarden. 1999,
40 pages, $3 check made out to Sweet Lady Moon Press, PO Box 1076, Georgetown,
KY 40324. Some good and some lesser
poems complaining about life. Elkhorn Storm is a good jazz poem that spoke to me: "Pipe
smoke drifts like street jazz hot as the water slowly strolls by low and cool
deep like bass trees move as the trumpet player rises to meet the sun sweat
drips sudden thunder like drums rumbles rain begins to splash cymbals crash the
sound softens thickens quiet slow quiet".
San Francisco Haiku also rocks. Most of the poems are whiny and ho hum and bring down the
rest of what's good though. A mixed
Why I Hate Reading Books,
short story chapbook by Mike Francis, 1999, 48 pages, $3 check made out to Sweet
Lady Moon Press, PO Box 1076, Georgetown, KY 40324.
A satire relating to the main character's hatred of books and bookstores,
with characters George Washington, Ben Franklin and actor Tom Selleck, this
didn't make much sense and seemed slapped together with little thought or
Under (Book) Cover Chapter has some funny lines about how bookstores
have cafes with food, and you could spill something on the books, and how they
popped up after the fall of the Berlin Wall and must be run by Communists, but
most of the rest of this chap is boring. This
seems like a waste of trees.
Please send poetry books, chapbooks, cds, broadsides or whatever for review to Ralph Haselmann Jr. at 67 Norma Road, Hampton, New Jersey 08827. Include price plus postage, who to make check out to, and address to order from. I will review them within 2 weeks and send you a copy of the review. Publishers have my permission in advance to reprint any part of my reviews as long as they send me a copy of what it appears in. The reviews go out to several small press discussion lists, including David McNamara's poetry)ism(list, Doug Holder's list, Kelly DeSaint's list, and J.J. Campbell's list, after which they will be archived on my Lucid Moon Poetry Website. My reviews are also picked up by 5 websites, including Al Aronowitz' The Blacklisted Journalist website My telephone number is (908) 735-4447, e-mail email@example.com and my Lucid Moon Poetry Website is http://www.lucidmoonpoetry.com. Please visit my website often and sign my guestbook!
Ralph Haselmann Jr.
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