Monday, November 28, 2011
Greg Delanty: THE NEW CITIZEN ARMY (9”x55/8” =230mm x 143mm, 68pp, #249/300,
Combat Paper Press, Burlington VT USA, 2010, USD$18)
It’s not often that a book’s cover is as or even more interesting than its contents.
This small-press chapbook, I tell my longtime friend & publisher Marshall Brooks
in West Dover VT who sent it to me, shows that “The pkg. is the msg,” McLuhanly,
you don’t really even need to read the book to get the msg. because its cover more
than just appears to replicate a partisan manual.
Its thick grey covers, made from cloth ground up & laid as paper, were “produced
by John La Falce, Drew Matott, Pam DeLuco, John Turner, and Jerry Kovis
using military uniforms. These uniforms carry a lineage of over one hundred
military service members serving from WWII to the current and ongoing conflicts.
The binding was hand-sewn with linen thread. The covers were printed letterpress
at the San Francisco Center for the Book. The cover production and binding were
performed at the Green Door Studio in Burlington VT, where Combat Press resides.”
(from the Colophon, p 68 unnumbered)
You need to know this much to know what this small-press is capable of.
The book’s contents are by an Irish poet you may never have heard of
But first, here’s his 19-line sig. poem:
The New Citizen Army
Today, as every day, you rise up, don your suit
denims, dress, whatever fatigues
Society rigs you out in. You’ll be one among
minions under orders.
You’ll not think of it like this, you’ll not
think once. You will breakfast,
hardly aware that long ago you were drafted,
a soldier in the New Citizen Army,
This is as it should be; all regulars must be
mindless in the execution of duty,
you’ll drive to work, the office, the hospital,
the university -- wherever you make your living.
All day you will make your dying, a good taxpayer.
After you arrive home, you settle back
On the couch, surf the news, the bodies laid out in neat rows.
Men, women, children, parents weeping,
The daily massacre. You have obeyed the command.
You think nothing of it. You have played your part.
You are the good citizen. Sit back. Relax.
Audenish, but moreso; TV-era, Bosnian War, current Afghanistan War. THE NEW CITIZEN ARMY also includes some poems set in classical Greece:
The eight winds blow.
an earthquake shakes Mount Olympus: cholera
ravages the states, drought everywhere, the mysterious
death of bees throughout the country,
the flowers and crops die, the daily
slaughtering of innocents,
and all we do is debate,
in the assembly, cast ostraka – shards of democracy –
regarding our ships, the color of their sails.
Now for the author:
[From Wikipedia]: Delanty was born in Cork, Eire, in 1958, and is generally placed in the Irish tradition. He now lives for most of the year in America. He became an American citizen in 1994, retaining his Irish citizenship. Irish novelist Colum McCann, who has also resettled in America, has described Delanty as the poet laureate of the contemporary Irish-in-America: “Delanty has catalogued an entire generation and its relationship to exile. He is the laureate of those who have gone.” (think of the historic shule agrah, the pre-Eire 'wild swans' of yore.)
Nowadays, they’re what Boston MA calls “The New Irish” Their exile is quasi-voluntary. Some apply for and win green cards in the citizenship lottery, so you can safely assume they left in search of work, not liberty (like the 'wild swans' did.) As a writer-in-residence at St . Michael’s College in Winooski VT, Delanty teaches poetry workshops; Irish Literature; poetry; Introduction to Literary Studies: Modern American Poetry. He’s current President of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers.
~ Bill Costley
Valley Village Bldg.4 apt.4-D
390 N. Winchester Blvd.
Santa Clara CA 95050-6541