Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bicycles, Canoes, Drums by Dan Sklar

Bicycles, Canoes, Drums.
By Dan Sklar
2008; 190 pp;Ibbetson Street Press,
25 School St., Somerville, MA
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The refreshing thing about Sklar’s poetry is that it’s not that carefully worked-over, avant-garde, conundrum, riddle-twisted work that is less interested in getting across ideas and emotions than puzzling and impressing the reader. Sklar is Mr. Tell-It-As-It-Is. Which he himself is very aware of: “My poems/do not win/poetry awards/because/they are/not poems/at all.” (“Wanted,” p.54).

Which is not to say that they don’t move, touch you, communicate. By getting rid of all the technique games and getting to the human heart of things, Sklar is one of the most successful communicators around: “I just want to clear off my desk,/listen to jazz and write and write/and type and type about things/that are important to me at this/moment like the fact that my son is 17 and in Catamarca,/Argentina for a year learning/tango and violin and...” (“Poetry is Just Not that Important to Me Now,” p. 126).

His topics include the inner Thoreau, horses, funerals, war, bicycles, rain, aging,sex, opera, canoes (and the Iroquois), truck accidents....and there’s not a poem in this book that you can stop reading once you’ve read the first line. Unreadable poets should take a course in Sklar, get readable, read Bicycles, Canoes, Drums.

Hugh Fox/Sept 2008

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