Friday, August 06, 2010

Small Press Review: Poems from the Left Bank: Somerville, Mass.

(July-Aug 2010)


Poems from the Left Bank
By Doug Holder
Alternating Current 2010
PO Box 183
Palo Alto CA 94302 USA

Review by Hugh Fox

You want a trip into the depths, heights and widths of everyday reality of everyday in Somerville, Mass? Doug Holder’s latest is the best way to begin. You’re there! Just the kind of details that create essential unforgettable realities: “ Two old women/ Walk down my street/ Each morning/ Lugging two shopping bags/ And two widow humps/Arm in Arm/ A tight embrace/ of frail appendages/ Pushing each other/ At no more than a snail’s pace… (“Two Old Women,” p. 10) It’s true that Somerville, just next to Cambridge, is a place that seems to have stepped out of time into time into timelessness, reminiscent of Chatham, a “ward” in Chicago, back in the 1940’s…or Paris’ Left Bank (the origin of the title) more or less at the same time.

Holder has the eyes of a painter/sketcher/photographer. No one else on the scene can evoke so much reality with so few carefully chosen key descriptive words. A line here, a line there, and suddenly you’re right in the middle of his daily street reality “ “I could not decide whether to turn into it. / I was at the cusp of decision. Looking down its dramatic curves/The close habitation of sunlight and brooding shadow, the incestuous tangle of backyards/ The sudden eruption of a hill/In a stretch of flattened pavement/ The indicting chorus of Blue Jays/ Casting invective to the cold wind. (“Hamlet St., Somerville p. 11). It would be fun to see some Somerville film genius do an image-drifting film through Somerville with Holder himself reading the poems as the images drift by.

No comments:

Post a Comment