Monday, March 08, 2010

Review of THE POET TREE by t. kilgore splake

Review of THE POET TREE by t. kilgore splake, Kamini Press, Ringvagen 8, 4th floor, SE-117 26 Stockholm, Sweden, 2010

By Barbara Bialick

Think of The Poet Tree as a little treasure you could write away to Sweden for, just for the experience of remembering those old countercultural days of the 60s and 70s, from the point of view of a so-called “small press icon.” splake is a poet’s poet from northern Michigan, who slaps images onto the page like paint, one image after the next. He doesn’t need grammar or even page numbers—the rhythm is inherent in the little poems in this 4 x 6 chapbook that lists 12 preceding “selected titles” published just since about the year 2000.

According to a google-found review of an earlier book, poet Charles P. Ries says splake didn’t write a poem until he was 44 years old, then “his work and name appeared everywhere.” In the bio of The Poet Tree (a pun with ‘the poetry’…), we learn splake was born Thomas Hugh Smith in 1935 in Three Rivers, Michigan. He “took an early retirement as a college professor to live in creative poverty and find his poetic voice…”

And, oh yes, the poetry: “demander drawings/lilliput poems/tibetan prayer flag colors/suffering autumn storms…”

“last Clarksville train” (think of The Monkees): “washing down aspirins/warm blue ribbon suds/damp gray first light/jerry lee’s cassettes silent…/yesterday wife saying ‘things got to change’…”

japhy ryder’s ghost: “escaping today’s/fun fun fun/dull mediocre people/satisfied to/talk talk talk/instead bardic spirit/wildly splashing/crossing brautigan creek/climbing pilgrimage/…writing love poem.”

To keep quoting from the poems. however, would be to give the whole book away. Suffice to consider that like in the poem “craig’s list dropout”, this book is like a “continuous kaleidoscope buzz.”

The publisher notes, “This first edition is limited to 150 copies, all signed by the author. Twenty-five special copies contain a water color by Henry Denander.”

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