Thursday, November 03, 2005

Surfings: Selected Poems of Will Inman. Edited by David Ray and Michael Rattee. ( )

First off, "Surfings..." is a beautiful looking book. It is perfect bound, with a wonderful cover painting by David Chorlton. The paper is of fine stock, and the font is condusive to an easy-on-the-eyes read. Inman himself is a fascinating story. William Inman was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on May 4, 1923. He graduated from Duke University, worked in a shipyard in World War ll, was a trade union member, a member of the "War Resisters League," and a one time member of the Communist Party. He was apponied Poet-In-Residence at American University, and he was very much a part of the Lower East Side (NYC) poetry scene in the late 50's and 60's.

We are what we eat, and Inman makes use of all the wide and eclectic experiences he digested. For those with a taste for "compassionate social engagement," this book will be of great interest. Inman was a man of his times, and his poetry brings his era alive again. Any man or woman who lives to his eighties is a survivor. He survives lovers, friends, love, lust, etc...In his poem: " living at 2551 west mossman," Inman paints a finely detailed portrait of the artist as an old man,with one of the things that has not deserted him...his writing life:
to sit in a large chair, yellow lined pad
against my decades-old writing board,
single lamp burning, ceiling crouched twilight, i
found old and new worlds in me
stirrring in the dust of the place-- two large rooms
built onto a trailer, thousands of pages
typed and photocopied, hundreds of copies
small magazines, chapbooks, i did not own them, they
filled my years owning

Like many, I have always been interested in the Beat-era poetry scene, especially in NYC. Inman spent many years in the Lower East Side, and the poem: " lower east side poets," captures that Bohemian atmosphere for those of us too young to be there: " in those days poetry was in ferment, hardware poets/ read at les deux megots and, later, at/ le metro and st. marks, and others of us,/lesser names, read with them/ but also in our small east side/ tenement flats, teaching roaches/yet more arcane tongues."

The Howling Dog Press has a whole bunch of interesting titles, so I would advise you to check out their website, and sample their fare.
Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ Somerville, Mass./ Nov. 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

We Need A Night Out. Tim Gager. ( ) $15.

I first became familiar with Tim Gager’s poetry when he sent me his manuscript: “From The Same Corner of the Bar,” that Ibbetson wound up publishing in 2003. Gager’s poetry is a potent mix of humor, love, lust, self-flagellation, and hard drinking. Gager shows his range with work that speaks to the doting father, the down-at-the-heels barfly, and the both distanced and the attentive lover. In the end we are all an enigma to each other, and Gager explores this mystique through his own quirky persona. In his poem: “H.G.Wells,” Gager adds a needed dose of levity to the inevitable path of a May/December romance: “ So I fall in love, I mean younger/ as in/ perhaps twenty years./ Then I wonder why she freaks/ and has a ton of emotion/ Sexually it’s great, I’m teaching, she’s learning/ I reach for my inhaler to keep up./ I think it is going to be over soon/ I’ve finally wasted someone else’s youth…”

In “Perfect Kid,” Gager conveys a studied tenderness towards his children, and makes a nod to the passage of time: “Walking through the park/ wondering how he stays complete/ this boy of mine/ running ahead laughing with his sister/ perfectly loving her and/ I smile knowing/the leaves will begin to turn soon/ falling, flashing of color,/ swept up in a spin/ that happens each year…

“ We Needed A Night Out” can be considered a signature Gager work. It holds the sinewy meat that makes the man, and we meet him at a most human level.”
Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ Somerville, Mass.