Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On My Way To Becoming A Man by A.D. Winans

(Left) A.D. Winans with the late Jack Micheline
On My Way To Becoming A Man
by A.D. Winans
© 2014 by A.D. Winans
NYQ Books
New York, NY
ISBN 978-1-935520-25-2
Softbound, no price given, 108 pages

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

I have read that A. D. Winans is the second coming of Charles Bukowski. That he is the new Allen Ginsberg. However, believe me he is neither of these, he is his own world class poet. Bukowski was mostly about himself and his booze or his women. Ginsberg was about everything else.

Winans in his new book On My Way to Becoming a Man shows where he is coming from: speaking out for the working class, the downtrodden, the poor, women, the abused, victims of war and his personal opposition to war.

Often described as the “last of the beats” Winans carries on their tradition with his uncompromising observations and exclamations.

This book begins on military bases where Mr. Winans is quick to learn the hard lessons of military life at Lackland Air Force Base and then Panama.

Many of his poems leave no doubt what they are about: “Growing Up In America,” “The System,” “Reaganites,” “Chinatown Sweatshop,” “We The People,” and his final “I Am San Francisco,” a not to be missed poem in which he combines all of the Beats and pieces of Bob Kaufman, Ginsburg, Bukowski, semblances of Kerouac and others.

What makes Winans poetry so good is that he knows and understands the low and high ends of society and most everything in between. He deals with San Quentin Prison, the Pope, Sitting Bull, Old Poets and more.

Who but Winans can criticize poets we hold near and dear? Who else can skewer politicians and dead presidents? Who would dare go after major corporations, the military, establishment heroes while commenting on the futility and corruption of so much in America?

We (the people) just don’t have any poets around who speak for us the way Winans does, whether you like how he does it or not. Too much poetry has degenerated in self-wallowing pity or self-created failure. This meaningless poetry is offset by the real poetry of Winans assaults on war, politics, religion and the wealthy.

Following are lines from Winans which are difficult to forget and worth remembering:

the IRS is a legal shake down
the Pentagon a slaughter house
--from San Francisco Blues

they cross the border
looking for a piece
of the promised land
entering a country that once
belonged to their ancestors
--from Poem for the Governor of Arizona

he toils on the assembly line
works an eight ten hour shift
leaves a piece of him behind
for every part he helps make
--from Factory Worker

U.S. generals claim substantial
gains and important victories
in the past month while fresh supplies
of bodies are ordered by the Pentagon
for expected vacancies computed
to exist from statistical backlog
and Vietnam (Cong) terrorist activities
--from Dial 890 Remembering The Old

I watched the Cavalry charge
the Indian villages
like Attila the Hun
believing Custer a hero
and Sitting Bull a savage
-from Growing Up In America

this poem is for those
who gave their lifeblood
to wash the streets free of oppression
for those who rest in heroic
and not so heroic graves
in the struggle
for human dignity
--from Poem for Roberto Vargas and the
Nicaraguan Freedom Fighters

These are but a few examples extracted from the 52 poems and 108 pages of some of the more meaningful poetic lines written by a surviving member of the generation of poets who provided us with ideas to think about, actions to take and memories to last. You will find this trio of important concepts in A.D. Winans’s On My Way To Becoming A Man. Don’t miss this book
Zvi A. Sesling
Author, King of the Jungle (Ibbetson Street Press)
Author, Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva Press)
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 8
Publisher, Muddy River Books

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