Friday, January 20, 2017


Both writing my own and reading that of others (or making art and digging various arts, in general). So, now more than ever, I will be relying on the arts to replenish my spirit and determination, and to inspire me to continue to do my best to progress toward "a world where love is more possible."

In that spirit, on this day, I wanted to mention some relatively recent small and large books of poetry that I've been meaning to write about but haven't, so here is a short list (alphabetically by title) to start with:

ABANDONED ANGEL by Burt Kimmelman, his subtle approach to the short, lyric, observational poem may seem on the surface to be narrowly focused, but if you listen to the underlying resonance of deeper meaning in his lines and images, I think you'll be pleased.

"I think not to mark this/day in the cold winter/although to write it down/as if I had lived it/is more than I should have/to do yet here I am."

FREEZE FRAME by Robert Hershon, his usual laugh-out-loud, stand-up-poet humor is aimed this time at his experiences as a lifetime movie-goer and movie-lover, a satisfying read, especially  for those of us old enough to have been mesmerized by the big screen when that was the only visual entertainment around, outside of our pre-social-media lives.

"I have become a man who cries at old movies/not when the crippled rancher's son/is killed in the war/but when Jane Powell starts singing/on the hayride"

IN THE EMPIRE OF THE AIR by Donald Britton, a posthumous collection that gathers all of Britton's published poetry and more (edited by Reginald Shepherd and Philip Clark) and brings his tender yet clear-eyed voice and perspective back to those of us who knew him (full disclosure, I'm mentioned in the Afterward by Douglas Crase) and hopefully to those who will discover him.

"Nothing told us it would work out/This way, that nothing/Stays put in the drawer of itself."

"I awaken—/a clam between/cool sheets.//A nude bather/like Cezanne's.//And showering/in the dark/I imagine/my body."

A LUCENT FIRE by Patricia Spears Jones, from the dailiness of her life as "a woman," a "black" "American," a "poet," a "New Yorker," a "teacher," a "lover," and all the categories of humanness her life and work can be forced into or volunteered for, these "New & Selected Poems" of Jones's enrich the reader with lyric and prosaic detail others too often leave out.

"Heaving garbage down three flights/She recalls reading Hegel/But really wanting to read/Spinoza. That poseur. Oh no,//that was Sartre, one last Calvados/(the bartender had never heard of, alas)//for the boulevard."

RECONNAISANCE by Carl Phillips, a slim collection of poems that often transcend the normal while illuminating it, an impressive volume that any poetry lover would be glad to own, I think. I am.

"Not because there was nothing to say, or we/didn't want to—we just stopped speaking/entirely, but like making a gift of it: Here;/for you."

SOUTHNESS by Vincent Katz, may be the best, or certainly one of the best, book of poems so far from this prolific wordsmith whose work often deflects from the personal to the unusual, in images and word choice, but this time reads, at least for me, like a soul being exposed, and one worth noting.

"I'd like to be a better person/I know that in their eyes I'm fine/that everything has been left in order/but in my own I fail at intervals/I'm not enough there for people/I evanesce or my own desire's paramount"

WHAT ALL THE SONGS ADD UP TO by Greg Masters, a quietly revelatory journey through the mundane and the poignant to sum up an individual experience that anyone can understand and relate to, by a master of understatement, which left me poetically satisfied and happy, what more could you want from poetry?

"A box of tea has disappeared/from my apartment/'Look behind the stove'/ says Lorna. She always/has answers. Not necessarily/to my questions."

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