Saturday, May 29, 2010

The World In A Minute by Gary Lenhart

The World In A Minute
by Gary Lenhart
Hanging Loose Press
© Copyright 2010 Gary Lenhart
Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn NY
Softbound, 58 pages, $18
ISBN 978-1-934909-12-6

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

The blurb says The World In A Minute is Gary Lenhart’s fourth collection of poetry, along with one volume of selected prose and his book on poetry and social class. But
this is about poetry and it is easy to see his has built on his past publications to achieve an entertaining volume of poetry and prose poetry.

Lenhart presents sly humor, history and personal commentary in an easily accessible manner. In “A Note on Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams” for example
in writing about his wife or girlfriend:

Louise, roused prematurely
yesterday at dawn, groused:
“Have the birds always sung so loud?”

Yes, the little buggers make a racked
these midsummer morns,
chasing each other up and down,
Creating one flap after another.

When it comes to history he expounds on Eugene V. Debs, the ancient Roman port of Ostia and a devastating account of T.S. Eliot’s anti-Semitism which few poets or critics dare to take on because even though he is not the icon he once was, Eliot remains a pillar of the poetic community. Yet just as Eliot let his feelings be known, so did ee cummings,
W.H. Auden, Ezra Pound and others.

I remember reading an introduction to cummings once in which the writer stated cummings wasn’t really anti-Semitic, it was just fashionable at the time. Sure, there’s always an excuse for that sort of thing those who don’t know better say or write. But Lenhart did not let it go.

Lenhart also, in the title poem, which is a series of prose poem vignettes recalls how the great poet Carl Rakosi, at age 100 suffered a stroke and to check his awareness discovered he did not know the day or the month it was so asked him “Do you know who is president?” Rakosi responded, “Bush...the bastard.”

There is much more humor, some obvious, some more subtle, but all of it entertaining. Lenhart is also very Catholic and some of the poems dealing with his religion are quite entertaining and enlightening.

He also has some wonderful lines like the one from “Footprint On Your Heart” –

Someone will walk into your life,
Leave a footprint on your heart,

Or from “A Robust Homeland”

Yes, we cherish the legends of our parents,
Though glad to live free and a thousand miles
Away, .......

There is a lot of substance to Lenhart’s poetry, but beware, what you think is fluff is not, what you think is humor has an underlying seriousness.

All in all I enjoyed his poetry because it sinks in and when you have finished the book you still think about it, which to me is the mark of success.

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