Sunday, May 13, 2007

Taxidancing by Paul Pines

Taxidancing Paul Pines ( Ikon 151 First Ave N.Y., N.Y 1003) $13

What a background for a poet. Paul Pines grew up in Brooklyn, and spent time in the Lower East Side of NYC. He tended bar, drove a cab, shipped out as a merchant seaman, and opened his own jazz club in the Bowery: “The Tin Palace” in 1970. He is now a practicing psychotherapist in upstate New York. So this ain’t your usual MFA-trained bard, but certainly one who has been well-schooled. This poetry collection "Taxidancing,", admirably illustrated by Wayne Atherton, is divided into two parts: “After Hours” that deals with Pines life during his stint in the Lower East Side; his cabbie, and jazz club owner days. The other “Bits and Pieces” has a more spiritual context to it.

I was most interested in “:After Hours” having grown up in the New York City area, and passing some time in the environs that Pines did. In this compelling portrait of a jazz man as a cokehead , “Cocaine Cadenza,’ Pines “nosedives “ into the face of “Bradley” after he has finished a set:

“After Bradley
finishes his last set
I see his nose
has become
as a moon rock
a terrain on which
bulges grow from
other bulges
like Black Forest
a huge sponge
with a
a creature
that has started
to drift
a small
in the middle
of his face.”

And Pines ode to the mad genius Be-Bop pianist Thelonious Monk :“Monk’s Dream,” captures the between-the-notes brilliance of this enigmatic artist: “Twisting the symphony/ as Ives did/.… A single note implied/ between the keys/ a note we can’t hear/ no less/ look at/ call white/or black…”

Hughly Recommended
Doug Holder/Ibbetson Update/ May 2007/ Somerville, Mass.

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