Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review of DRIVE-BY VIGILS poems by R. Zamora Linmark

Review of DRIVE-BY VIGILS poems by R. Zamora Linmark, Hanging Loose Press, 231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217,, 82 pages, January 2012, $18

Review by Barbara Bialick, author of TIME LEAVES

This novelist-playwright-poet has a voice that I have not personally heard of until now—that of a Filipino-American who was born in Manila, educated in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has lived in Madrid and Tokyo. A well-regarded writer, his bio can be found in the Wikipedia. He was the recipient of U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission and NEA fellowships, and two Fulbrights. He has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Hawaii and the University of Miami. He lives between Manila and Honolulu.

Unfortunately no birth date is given, so it’s difficult to pigeonhole his generation. He would be difficult to pigeonhole anyway, being that he has distinctively sad, satirical, sardonic and angry poetry that could certainly expand into novels or plays that must be, well, a bit weird, but certainly interesting and well-done.

An urban sort and possibly gay, consider his poem “Some Kind of Wonderful”:
“I wanted to save my dandruff for winter./I wanted the school’s most-wanted truant to give me his stud earring then French kiss me in the library./I wanted my heart to break out and lip synch to “Try a Little Tenderness”/I wanted Psychedelic Furs to accompany my pink, beat-up imaginary Karmann Ghia to the Senior Prom./I drove a secondhand white Ford Escort./I gave my prom date a Swatch watch in lieu of a corsage….”
And on it goes. Just open up the book anywhere and read. It’s sure to intrigue you.

Since the title refers to vigils, take a look at the poem “Reunion”: “Before Jessica sent back the chicken,/the black widow dropped by to show/off her latest husband. Then Ching arrived/bringing the latest typhoon body count/from the motherland we sometimes call/home…/I kept on/and on about sleep-deprived evenings/in the Hamptons hitting me so hard it felt/like ten thousand vigils…”. What this is really about eludes me. If you don’t get something, just keep on reading. Something like “steel and aluminum” will be “slowly shining/Into pots and pans…”

R. Zamora Linmark wrote two prior poetry collections, PRIME TIME APPARITIONS and THE EVOLUTION OF A SIGH (both from Hanging Loose Press), and two novels, the best-selling ROLLING THE R’S, which he adapted for the stage, and the just-published LECHE. He is working on another novel and a play BUT BEAUTIFUL.

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