Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Allen Ginsberg comes to Pittsburgh by Dave Newman
Allen Ginsberg comes to Pittsburgh
by Dave Newman
Platonic 3 Way Press
Copyright © by Dave Newman
Review by Zvi A. Sesling
Allen Ginsberg comes to Pittsburgh is a fun book of poetry if you don’t mind gratuitous foul mouthed use of language. And while I support First Amendment rights, it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy that freedom. Nor does mean I am prudish because I dislike Dave Newman’s choice of words.
Newman, who forthrightly claims to be influenced by both Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski, does his best to write in the barfly’s style, but Bukowski was Bukowski and Ginsberg was Ginsberg. There was only one of each. So to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen:
I’ve Bukowski and Ginsberg and Newman isn’t either.
Having said all that, Newman is still a fun poet and his stories – true or not – keep the reader interested, often smiling and without the overtones of sadness that permeate Bukowski.
For those who feel inadequate in so many ways: psychologically, sexually, alcoholically, socially, to name a few, this chapbook will strike a familiar chord. For those feeling above failure or inadequacy, enjoy looking down on Newman and his neuroses.
Anyway, once I got past that Bukowski-Ginsberg jig – and the language – Newman’s poetry has a certain appeal despite the flaws and I have the feeling that on his own Newman could be a humorous but more serious poet.
The funniest poem in the chapbook is one entitled “Rick Santorum, For US Senator, Reviews A Reissue of Leaves Of Grass by Walt Whitman which begins
First, I didn’t understand it. But one
of my kids, who made the mistake
of going to one of these fancy liberal
colleges, said there’s gay stuff in
here, and I believe him and that’s
just wrong. The gay stuff, I mean.
I suppose you can really hear Santorum utter these words and it make you wonder what people elect to office from any end of the political spectrum.
Then there’s the title poem, which opens:
Allen Ginsberg came to Pittsburgh and tickets
were ten dollars at the door, and I figured
if I showed up a couple hours before the reading,
someone, one of my friends, would take pity, ....
And pity is something Newman seems to seek as he takes the persona of a Woody Allen schlemiel, a Bukowski barfly, failure at satisfying sex and whatever else he conjures up. But as I said, his poetry is fun.