Sunday, March 28, 2010
Review of KING OF THE JUNGLE by Zvi A. Sesling, Ibbetson Street Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2010, 73 pages, $15
By Barbara Bialick
KING OF THE JUNGLE may be a first book, but it doesn’t read like one. It’s a book by an experienced, professional writer who’s got his own voice speaking out in every poem, and he should be considered worth reading by both small press fans and the mainstream. This may be because he got his first kiss in Youngstown, Ohio, which reminded him of a sweaty afternoon watching the Indians play baseball…but he didn’t stop there. “In the human species looks, money/and sometimes personality could get/a female to lay on her back, spread/her legs and say Enter my jungle/And what a jungle! The vines wrap/around you, the lions roar…”
He doesn’t stop there. He also reminds us of the Viet Nam War jungle, and about Jews forced to wear yellow stars in Hitler’s Germany. He keeps hinting at desert sands he doesn’t name, but he seems to describe Jewish immigrants who not only came to the U.S, but went to Israel.
Even the book itself is on slippery sensual paper including the cover, which features an original art work by Irene Koronas, artist and also poetry editor of the Wilderness House Literary Review. The picture makes me think of Sesling’s “word sheets hanging out to dry” or again, the desert sands of his poem “Pyramid”: “There among the flat sands/the color of a cat/the grey pyramid arises/…built by slaves forgotten/…crushed Hebrew bones…”
Before I even read the book I was intrigued with the word “jungle” on the cover and who could be king of it. I created a little word game: J for Jewish, U for universe or university, N for nazis, G for God or girls, L for life or life force, and E for earth. But he mentions neither university nor God in this book, except perhaps subtly as a lightening bolt that splits in halves the fruit tree “where a man and woman, naked, eat the fruit of the tree…”
Sesling’s poetry has been published widely. His work placed Third in the 2004 and First in the 2007 Reuben Rose International Poetry Competition. He’s also the editor of the Muddy River Poetry Review. There’s an intriguing introduction to the book by Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish, which declares Sesling “a buttoned-down Bukowski—direct, honest, male writing…” Who wouldn’t want to check this book out!