Friday, November 21, 2014

Elizabeth Gordon McKim: A Poet of the poem. A poet of the people.




Elizabeth Gordon McKim






Elizabeth McKim: A Poet of the poem. A poet of the people.

Interview by Doug Holder

Elizabeth Gordon  McKim is not just about getting her own work out there. A respected educator, poet and influential member of the Expressive Arts Movement, McKim engages the community, other artists, and students, so they too can realize their creative potential. As the poet, and McKim's partner Etheridge Knight said:" You must be a poet of the poem, and the people". McKim is the embodiment of this.

Elizabeth Gordon McKim has published five books of poetry, the latest being The Red Thread (Leapfrog Press). She is a teacher, performance poet, spoken word artist, and has been an adjunct professor for forty years in the department of Creative Arts in Learning at Lesley University. McKim is the poet laureate of the European Graduate School, and the Jazz Poet of Lynn where she lives, in a renovated shoe factory. She is included with four others in the new anthology, Wild Women of Lynn, published by Blaine Hebbel and The Ring of Bone Press.

I had the pleasure to interview her on my Somerville Community Access TV show Poet to Poet Writer to Writer.




Doug Holder: You were intimately connected with the famed prisoner poet and civil rights activist Etheridge Knight. Can you tell us about your life and times with him?

Elizabeth McKim: I knew him in the last decade of his life. He died in 1991. I met him through a poet in Worcester, Mass., Fran Quinn. We were both going down to work in the schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was in the late 70s. Fran thought we should stop in Memphis where he was living. He was married at the time to a woman from Worcester, Mass. And here, I heard him read his poetry. And that was very important for me because he was one of the best readers of poetry I have heard. I never got bored, even when I heard the same work over and over again. He had a major belief in the poet, the poem and the people. He reminded me never to forget your people when you are reading or they will forget you. When I teach children I tell them not to forget their people—speak up and speak out!

There were a lot of things that were connected with music that Etheridge knew about. At Goddard College, where I got my Maste'sr Degree, I learned so much about movement, breath and song. This went well with Etheridge and his work. He did have an amazing message for black men, but it really did spread out from there. The manuscript I am now working on now has several essays about him, interviews, and poems. I have a lot of his papers and eventually I plan to put them in a university archive. I did spend a year and half in Indianapolis where his family lived—it was a wonderful community of artists. Here I learned how community can be so important to making art. I learned how people inspire each other—painters with poets, etc…

Etheridge, when he was first in prison, at Michigan City—wrote his first book of poetry. He was published by the Broadside Press—a very important press for Black poets like Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, etc…, all of whom were published there.

DH: You have been described as a pioneer of the Expressive Arts Movement. What is that movement exactly—as you understand it?

EM:  The Expressive Arts Movement, more or less started in Cambridge, Mass. at Lesley University. A man named Shawn McNiff , who was an expressive therapist at Danvers State was an instrumental figure here. He believed that language, paintings, movement, etc… all inform one another, especially working with the healthy side of people. Creativity is the important thing. They named discipline at Lesley “The Expressive Arts Therapy.” Antioch College in Ohio, and Goddard had small programs at that time, but now there are centers across the country and the world. Appalachia St. University has one, there is a center in Toronto, another fine one in San Diego—to name just a few. I always think of Allen Ginsberg’s, who said “ All I wanted to do was to get back to the body where I was born.” In some ways that’s what the expressive arts are all about. We now train students to get out in the community and work with conflict resolution in the community. They are in rehab centers, prisons, etc..

DH: Tell me about this organization “Troubadour” that you are involved with?

EM: It is a consortium of singer/songwriters, poets, writers, going out and working in the schools. They engage the students through different art forms. They work to increase literacy—they try to turn the kids on. We make partnerships with the schools, get funding etc…

DH: You are the Poet Laureate of the European Graduate School in Switzerland. What is that about?

EM: The people, who started this, were the people who started out at Lesley University. Folks like Paolo J. Knill, Steve Levine, and Sally Atkins. They started the school there. It is between Geneva and Zurich. We stay in an inn—and believe it not the innkeeper built the school for us. In addition we have a partnership with New York University. We help people work in the community with others. We have visiting artists, lectures—there is a PhD program—we even have a small school in South Korea.  We need all this in these times of deadening violence. The arts are crucial in all the different aspects of living. We teach compassion. We ask students to think about what’s like to be another person? And hopefully the other person will learn to ask what it is like to be in the “other's” shoes. It is important to think outside of yourself.

DH: Tell me about this “ Wild Women of Lynn” anthology you are involved with. How are you guys wild?



EM: Blaine Hebbel was a major force behind this. We are wild and mild. Inside every person who is creative, there is that wild, creative storm.




November 21,2014


All the leaves are gone
Away/ and gone to glitten
Where are my mittens?
Brilliant chilly-wind
Stirring my remembrances
On the way no where
Give the love...
The lasting pleasure.
Give it in full measure.
Find the fruit. Be at
The special spot. Beat the drum.
Be here. Be there. Be where?
Again and once again.
Bear it. Wear it. We are it!
What else do we have?
We do desire it!

--Elizabeth  Gordon  McKim



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Molly Lynn Watt's "On Wings of Song" flies high










Molly Lynn Watt's "On Wings of Song" flies high

 Review by Bert Stern

 To order go to  Wings of Song

 "On Wings of Song" ( Ibbetson Street Press) is a clear-eyed account of racial oppression in the US and of the people, black and white, who struggled to end it. What gives the book its special authenticity is the point of view, which is intimate – a positioning of the narrator’s eye gained by Watt’s own lifelong efforts in the struggle.

 While the book is historical, it is also lyrical. “Crayola World begins:

 Robin draws sky-blue arches
 burnt orange sun sepia earth sprouts
 maroon father strums raw-umber guitar
 bittersweet mother hold pink flower
 purple sister suck plum thumb.

 And it ends when the child-artist

 . . . picks up black
 draws herself in the center
 that’s me
 the most beautifulest.

 Bushels full of poems have been written about Billy Holiday, but Watt’s “Billy Holiday Sings “Strange Fruit” tops them all. It begins with a close-up picture of Billy herself, and ends, in an astonishing shift, with a first-hand account of an observer’s experience at a lynching.

 "On Wings of Song" is canonic. It restores for all of us the beating heart of an evolving conscience that may never be complete.

-- Bert Stern, author of Silk," "Steerage," and "Winter in China".

Monday, November 17, 2014

Franz Wright Reading Wednesday November 19th





 
Franz Wright Reading Wednesday November 19th

by Michael Todd Steffen, co-organizer of the Hastings Room Reading Series

This Wednesday, the 19th of November, at 7:00 pm Franz Wright will be reading in the Hastings Room at First Church Congregationalist, 11 Garden Street near the Harvard Square Sheraton Commander Hotel. Franz will be joined by Mary Buchinger-Bodwell and George Kalogeris. I believe this will be the first reading Wright has given in public for a some time. It’s going to be a special occasion, and gives me the space here to make some observations on his poetry.

One of the powerful virtues of Franz Wright’s poetry is its raw intelligence. Through his translations, references in his own poems and in interviews, he has impressed us with a wide-ranging and eclectic literary culture, while often expressing scorn for scholarship and convention, maybe partly for the sake of a mythos he has built about himself as a 21st century Romantic confronting the demons of child abuse, abandonment and addiction, leading his meditations anagogically to the themes of self-destruction and death, yet also to the therapy of speaking about these, recovery, and to a faith in and ultimate reliance on God and a life to come. These make for an interesting, distinctly American combination of derision for tradition and sophistication with a surrendering and humble faith in a redeeming God.

Wright has championed a bold, edgy, tell-all vernacular that warrants disregard for the second part of Emily Dickinson’s advice to tell all the truth (But tell it slant). His poems are edited (most notably in Walking to Martha’s Vineyard) less for content than for effects of counterpoint and silence.

In his 2013 collection F (Knopf), on the Christmas page, page 25, the poet comes to a statement of culmination echoing the subject of his meditation, mortality, an acknowledgment of an end itself:

    But I’ve said all that
    I had to say.
    In writing.
    I signed my name.
    It’s death’s move now.

It is a semantic notation in the music of acceptance of the inevitable: not that any of us are convinced that Franz Wright has exhausted his meaning or his means with poetry. Except to say that it’s okay with him in case.

The strophe is the second of four in a poem titled CRUMPLED-UP NOTE BLOWING AWAY, the title itself making an acronymic suggestion (C B A) of an order in reverse to its zero being, where the order starts back again.

The title also makes a poignant correlative image perhaps for how any of us can be made to feel on not so good a day: like a waded up piece of paper in the wind. Yet in our time of superabundant “pages” available and sent to us in every sort of binding, envelope or electronic mail, perhaps the note on the crumpled piece of paper we just happen to pick up and unfold, thanks to the unique path it has taken to get to us, becomes the most intimate, deliberate and meaningful scrap of reading we’ve had in a long time.

In a different way we notice the strophe’s last line, “It’s death’s move,” appealing less to our personal anticipation than to our curiosity about this game of chess the poet has been playing against Death. It is interesting and disinteresting at the same time, because it is a game neither Franz nor any one of us can finally win, though we have played it our whole lives with every hope and earnestness. This explains the next line and the ecstatic vision, wholly American in character, concluding the poem:

    It can have mine, too.
    It’s a perfect June morning,
    and I just turned eighteen;
    I can’t even believe
    what I feel like today.

    Here am I, Lord,
    sitting on a suitcase,
    waiting for my train.
    The sun is shining.
    I’m never coming back.

How explain the transformation that takes place between feeling as useless and random as a neglected piece of paper and as thrilled and hopeful as a teenager running away from home?

Centuries ago, the English poet John Donne made a similar pronouncement on his disinterest with the board game of mortality: Death be not proud… Donne is pertinent, perhaps questionable in this context, referring to the opening stanza of Wright’s poem. This is a variation on the old speculative question, If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does the tree make a sound? By applying the line of thought to the sun and its light and our vision, Wright significantly exaggerates the futility of the question, still with the purpose of evoking a subjective annihilation. In a much lighter complaint from a lover, Donne chided the sun:

        Busy old fool, unruly sun,
        Why dost thou thus
    Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
    Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
        Saucy pedantic wretch… (“The Sun Rising”)

Wright will echo one word from this passage perhaps for reference, while making his dismissive reply bespeaking the obvious solution to the dark, irresolute question he has been asking himself building up to writing the poem:

    Were no one
    here to witness it,
    could the sun be
    said to shine? Clearly,
    you pedantic fool.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lucky Bones By Peter Meinke



Peter Meinke



Lucky Bones

By Peter Meinke

University of Pittsburgh Press

Pittsburgh, PA


ISBN 13: 978-0-8229-6310-3

82 Pages

$15.95


Review by Dennis Daly


Passion trumps this frivolous world of detail—Belgian chocolates, Coppertone lotion, dry martinis, bright ribbons, doubles tennis, and, heaven help us, sonnets. Peter Meinke in his new collection of poems, Lucky Bones, quantifies the passionate nature of interior intensity and hell-bent fervor by poking fun at himself and humorously (or not) eviscerating a chosen set of targets inhabiting this vale of tears that we call life. Many of his poetic commentaries Meinke delivers in formalist verse with a cunning dry wit that both elucidates and cautions.


The poet begins ominously with his first sectional poem entitled Drive-By Shootings. Here he sets up his backdrop and shades it with bitters. Meinke says,


        …People pedal on bikes drop

  Some money in the hole stick in their arms get a shot and wobble away

     Sometimes getting hit by cars the same needle all afternoon

             That’s the kind of world we live in


Civilization masks bloody-mindedness and boiling lust. Meinke’s piece Cassandra in the Library alludes to ancient Troy while the poet simultaneously conjures up modern academia and contemporary office life. Here’s the unpleasant heart of the poem,


            Poetry no wisdom withstands the test

               of blood: when mind and body clash

         the mind’s the one whose opposition’s rash


                        Killing liquid work’s dust

         Our craving for passion quenched by a crimson lust


           What can an office offer but a cursed

                 routine an inane trivial bore?

           A water cooler doesn’t slake the thirst

              of blood that rages for a taste of war

       a horde of disappointed men have dreams

    fired by bursting flares and female screams


The rhymes lighten the content thereby creating an odd but interesting counterpoint. I very much like this poem.


Skewing the Roman Catholic papacy can get old quickly and is not my cup of tea. However when a bit of compressed wit like the poem Habemus Papum nudges me I can’t resist. Habemus Papum, as announced by a cardinal from St. Peter’s Basilica after a papal election concludes, means “we have a pope.” Meinke appears to have tired of Vatican officialdom and its moribund language. He celebrates/laments in this part of the piece,


                        O goodum! Habemus papum

                             who’ll soon intone

                               the usual crapum


                        and the poor poor will weepum


Athletes and poets have a lot in common up to and including their need to be loved and appreciated in their own time. Unfortunately, the gods of sport and art operate on a different timeframe. In Meinke’s title poem, Lucky Bones, a tennis player of 78 years makes a great shot during a doubles game. He looks to his wife for approval as he had done as a younger man. But time has passed. Meinke concludes with pathos,


…his wife


who used to toss car keys

that flashed through light


like lucky bones crying Hey

         big fella think fast!


 And he thinks That’s

just past in my head


     like a re-eyed crow

and he’s thinking Christ he


could still catch them if she

   were still there to throw


Armed with talent enough to cause the doubling up in laughter of bards and bad reviewers everywhere, Meinke takes on the sonnet in his piece Front-Rhymed Easter Anti-Sonnet. His faux attack doesn’t miss a beat. Bucking revered tradition he even removes the end rhyme scheme and transplants it at the line beginnings. The untraditional cur! Consider these pretty funny lines,


    … Bad enough you have to use

  words without sinking the buggers in fourteen

  lines O Shakespeare Milton what made you

  choose them? O Formalist can’t you read the

signs? O Meinke why are you writing another?

            Who’s sick of sonnets?  Iamb  Iamb 


For Emily Dickinson it’s all about repressed sex and mannered poetry in Meinke’s excellent parody of that poet entitled Emily Dickinson Thinks about Buying a Ribbon. There’s something about Dickinson that invites quality parody. I’m thinking of X.J. Kennedy’s Emily Dickinson in Southern California. In Meinke’s poem Dickinson debates the color of her prospective ribbon almost to the point of indecency which, of course, is the point in this astonishingly deep piece,


I would like to get red—

Vermillion

       But father would disapprove


  A serious Blue—then—worn loose

  Like a Lover’s knot

        A decent one could strangle


  With it—I’d have wine

       Not the barrell’d rum of Father’s

  Then—let him come—


Meinke takes great pleasure in self-deprecation. He gets away with it because he is that good. His poem On Completing My PHD reads like an ongoing gag, but carries with in some quite serious undertones and unasked questions. The poet concludes by rattling off his educational symptoms,


And I who’ve developed

  a twitch a tic a cough

 can’t tell if I am finished

    or only finished off


    I learned Byron had a clubfoot

      Nietzsche’s health was drastic

         Poe was a dipsomaniac

        And I’m already spastic


 I learned that Shakespeare really lived

        so scholars have decided

   Though quite a few have studied me

       they’re not as sure that I did


The poet again summons up academia in a villanelle entitled The Old Professor. Keeping their eyes on Professor Warren’s nicotine-stained teeth as he enlightens his students on New England’s luminaries can prove a didactically sound methodology. Meinke explains,


                                                … Transfixed we

            watched you grind your nubby teeth to stumps


            waiting for you to spur us through our jumps

               from Cotton Mather up through Emily

                        Is every pilgrim happy on the bus?


             We never were sure when you were serious

                   chaining your Camels unpuritanically

                grinding your browning teeth to nubby stumps


              and tossing questions far from the syllabus:

                 Would you rather live on Broad or Beacon Street?

                        Are Smith and Bradford riding the same bus?


Peter Menke has been writing good, sometimes great poems for a long time. Whatever he has for breakfast I want to try. This poet’s in top form.


*** originally appeared in the Fox Chase Review

Thursday, November 13, 2014

6 Hotels Hub Theatre Company of Boston @ Club Café






Hotels
Hub Theatre Company of Boston
@ Club Café
209 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA
Now Playing through November 22
6 Short Plays by Israel Horovitz
Directed by Daniel Bourque
and John Geoffrion

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

In his Talk Back with the audience following the performance of 6 Hotels, which is six short plays, playwright Israel Horovitz says that perhaps the scenario, “Beirut Rocks,” is too serious for  the set of plays presented.  Perhaps too, it is in many ways too political to be included among five other comedy pieces.

In the first play, “Speaking of Tushy” Horovitz presents a delicious appetizer of two guys who meet in a bar and begin talking about their ex-lovers.   Johnnie McQuarley, who sparkles throughout the six plays, is the center of this play along with Ashley Risteen.  Both are excellent and perform even better in the later presentations.  Supporting them are Matthew Zahnzinger, whose French accent could use some polish, but otherwise fits his part well and Lauren Elias, who along with her husband John Geoffrion founded Hub Theatre Company, works nicely as a waitress adding many lines to the comedy.

“Fiddleheads and Lovers” is another Horovitz comedy which revolves around food and two friends dating each other’s wives which result in humorous repercussions.  Since Horovitz’s six plays are meant to be performed by the same four actors, this one finds Risteen (Emma) and McQuarley (Noah) at dinner with Elias (Elsa) once again a waitress and Zahnzinger (Jerry), who is married to Emma, in his more natural American accent happening in on the scene and then his unseen date, who is Noah’s wife joining him. Not as confusing as it might seem, the awkward situation is humorous.

The third play, “Beirut Rocks” is Horovitz’s self-stated “serious play.”   True to his words there is no comedy in this one which finds four students in a hotel room in downtown Beirut during an Israeli air bombing which we can presume is during the war with Hezbollah.  There are problems with this cruelly flawed play. McQuarley as Benjy is Jewish.  Zahnzinger is Jake who is Irish and a Harvard student.  Elias as Sandy is an American student and Risteen (Nasa is an American Palestinian.   The first problem with the storyline is that there would probably be no Jewish students in Beirut studying Arabic at that time.  Second, Benjy tries to differentiate between Jews and Israelis.  Each time Nasa talks about Jews, Benjy asks, “ Jews or Israelis?” Nasa replies that there is no difference.   And in the final scene Nasa raises her arms to the heavens and prays for Palestinians to overcome Israelis.   For this Horovitz is not to be praised or criticized, but perhaps he should be given a few lessons in history.

In “The Audition Play” Risteen as Alexis is sensational.  She is supposed to have a Boston accent that the disembodied voice of the auditioner Ed (McQuarley) notes is more New York.  She plays the role expertly with comedic insight and at the same time tap dances that raises applause from an appreciative audience. This is Risteen’s opportunity to shine and she does.

The Hotel Play seemed a bit too familiar as if it had been done before.  Elias as Janice is the mistress of Aaron (Zahnzinger).  Aaron leaves quietly, leaving Janice alone.  Enter Chad (McQuarley), the room service boy,  who tries to comfort Janice as she reveals her affair and her intention to end it.  At that point Aaron reenters and the fun begins thanks to Horovitz ‘s comedic insights.

The final play is “2nd Violin” which Horovitz says he had always wondered what the second person feels like and also that he always wanted to finish a play with a bad ending for the character.   Elias perfectly portrays  Evvie, the second violin who just cannot get her piece right, but as in the other plays she provides an exuberant, bubbly personality and just the right touch of comic relief.  She is supported by Catherine (Risteen) who tries to help Evvie get her piece right. Marvin (McQuarley) the stage manager keeps entering the room resulting in Catherine and Evvie having  a discussion about whether Catherine had an affair with Marvin. Catherine points out  Marvin always enters a room when the female performer is in a state of undress.  Zahnzinger as Sergei the conductor has a Russian accent more French than Russian and has morphed himself over the period of six plays from a drinker at a bar to a tuxedo clad symphony conductor, each – except for the accents –  believable.

In Horovitz we observe a playwright who clearly finds the vulnerability, fears and anxiety of people in stressful situations.  He knows their faults, understands their weaknesses and expertly inserts  these traits into comedic theatre . He is a respected and well-liked writer who has done much to bring memorable entertainment to the stage.  Hub Theatre Company of Boston does an excellent job of interpreting his plays and bringing them to the live stage.


____________________________________________________________________________
Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer, Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene
Author, King of the Jungle and Author, Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 8

Publisher, Muddy River Books

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

LONGSHOT & GHAZAL by Dennis Mahagin






LONGSHOT & GHAZAL
by Dennis Mahagin

Mojave River Press
Apple Valley, CA
ISBN  978 1 63120 004 5

Review by Susan Tepper


When reading a book of poems, I believe the unconscious mind searches for touchstones that justify and reaffirm each poem’s place in the narrative: or to put it more simply, when the poems hang together, and tell me a story, preferably in rich, abstract metaphor, with themes and tropes, phrases and voices that keep recurring, a la anaphora, to ‘ring the bell’ of a rapt reader.  

I first experienced LONGSHOT & GHAZAL in galleys over the computer.  The raw, honest beauty of this work, an almost frantic energy, elicits a skewed sense of humor, what I’ve come to recognize as a Mahagin trademark.  He never skimps— be it pain, pleasure, what is lost, what’s to be gained, what gets shoved aside, or mourned, as mysterious, relevant, absurd, profound. 

His skewed brilliance in two of the long poems, “Tumbleweed Suite” and “Absolute Longshot w/ the Seven Dwarves,” particularly the latter poem, will have you shaking your head at the risks this writer is willing to take on the page, and the payoffs he delivers. Case in point is the dwarf, Grumpy, visited by a dominatrix; or Dopey, hanging tough within the sanctum of a 12 Step meeting.

My print copy of this book is rendered strikingly in grey tones. No other color could suit this book better. Holding it, re-reading the poems, it struck me that I was in possession of a modern, vernacular poetic vision of Romeo and Juliet.
Longshot is what that word implies, and more.  It’s the X chromosome taking risk, jumping ship, striding forward in these broken narratives; marching toward the wisp of Ghazal, whom I view as a nymph creature, female, flighty as the clouds— that he finds, loses, finds again … infinitum.

Mahagin is one of the least sentimental poets working on the scene today.  Yet a few of the poems in this new collection touch specifically on love themes.  Is he a closet romantic, and did he also conjure up the Romeo/Juliet parallel?

‘Schmarties’ is a poem I’ll remember. The title is of course word-play for ‘Smarties’ (the candy wafers)—  and isn’t he saying something else about this whole ‘sweetness’ gig?  An excerpt recalls a Valentines Day long past:


Schmarties
“…Only eight weeks previous two of us conceived / in a state of Deep Winter, Eastern Oregon love, / how we’d plow through snow banks, arm in arm, / … / … From a corner of my lip, a handle bar / she kissed deep, said ‘Malarkey,’ reached for my V, / again and again… Now, alone on Valentines, (‘why / are you crying?’) out of time…/ …”


Deep down in the darkest recesses of the functioning brain, we move closer or away from certain writings, depending upon which receptors the words engage, and light up.  I found myself so emotionally invested in the doings of the Longhot, that I began to worry about the well being of the Ghazal.  And vice versa. So it was with a certain trepidation that I approached a poem placed toward the end of the book, entitled “Longshot’s Demise.”  It’s another of the longer poems; here’s an excerpt from the first stanza:


Longshot’s Demise
“Well, Jesus / if only it wasn’t / another glorious morning— / clouds slathered on a blue dauber, / darling yawns, shaving cream lather; / orange juice, bird song, stench / of French roast / from the Starbucks, / and a gas powered leaf blower / going off too early, at the center / of town. / … ”

So what will become of the Longshot?  Or the Ghazal?  Mahagin’s second collection is a tour de force in modern poetry, and most highly recommended.


*** This review first appeared in Black Heart magazine.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Review, THE BLOOD OF A TOURIST by William Taylor, Jr.,












Review, THE BLOOD OF A TOURIST by William Taylor, Jr., Sunnyoutside, PO Box 911, Buffalo, New York 14207, 92 pages, $13, 2014


Review by Barbara Bialick


In the title poem, “The Blood of a Tourist,” poet William Taylor, Jr. says he, Taylor, is like the tourist with blood so cold, he “could only look away” at the wino, “a wounded beast/drunk on the wine/of our fear…”


This is a collection that speaks of the “terror” in life—and “the people you try not to look at”:


“I awoke with the terror today/…this morning it lingered/in the unmade bed/the dirty dishes…/I saw it in the man on the bus/and the woman in the grocery store/and wondered if they saw it/in me/…most everyone knows the terror/more than they will say/.”


Taylor says he was born “with a weak heart and frightened eyes”—“I met the big nothing early on,” he says, having “to let others walk the world/as if they had some place in it.”


This reviewer had a similar feeling when I was young and felt like the author writes, “myself content with dreams/of little rooms with little windows/looking out upon the rain…”


Other sad people (or the secretly sad) could relate to these spare but arresting poems:  “It suddenly strikes me/that so many lives could be made/from all we’ve simply/thrown away…”


William Taylor, Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, California. His other book titles are BROKEN WHEN WE GOT HERE (Epic Rites, 2013), AN AGE OF MONSTERS (Epic Rites, 2012), and THE HUNGER SEASON (Sunnyoutside, 2009).  Many of his poems have previously appeared in a wide variety of literary publications.


Reviewer Barbara Bialick is the author of TIME LEAVES and NEVER RETURNS (Ibbetson Street Press).