Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: Portrait of an Artist as a Young Poseur 1974 to 1983. By Doug Holder

Book Review: Portrait of an Artist as a Young Poseur 1974 to 1983. By Doug Holder ( Big Table Books) $12

  Review by Ed Meek

Doug Holder is a force in Somerville. His press, Ibbetson Street, publishes local poets. He interviews writers and artists on his blog and on SCAT—the local television station. He is the Arts Editor for The Somerville News where he introduces and publishes a poem each week, and he is the founder of Bagel Bards, a group of poets who meet Saturday mornings in Davis Square at Au Bon Pain. He teaches writing at Endicott and Bunker Hill Community College and still finds time to dedicate to his first love: writing. It’s kind of surprising how many people actually still write poetry in our digital age surrounded as we are with entertainment, sports, movies, television, music and video games. As one of those people, I was excited to hear that Doug Holder had published a short memoir in the form of prose poems with Big Table Publishing Company, a new local press whose Acquisitions Editor Robin Stratton is another force in the local writing community.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Poseur covers the years of 1974-1983 when Doug Holder had just graduated from college. As a contemporary of Holder, I know those years in the mid-seventies were hard times to find jobs. The market was flooded with baby boomers and many of us found ourselves using our college degrees to tend bar or like Holder, flip burgers behind the counter as a short order cook, barely getting by. But in those days, you could find a room for $38 per week on Newbury Street! There he’d run into luminaries like the great Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road, or the young, but just as rumpled, Barney Frank. 

Though his parents told him to “Get the hell out of there!” Lucky for us, Holder stuck around and eventually found a job at McLean Hospital, whose famous “guests” included James Taylor, David Foster Wallace and Sylvia Plath. Famous people are not the focus of Holder’s book though. He’s more likely to zero in on details. “The croissants from the Savory Bakery in Audubon Circle were flaky concessions, the dark beers and the dark cavernous bar at Browns, my balm. And the elevated tracks on Harrison Avenue—elevated me—I was a transcendent blur cross-town.” Whether you’d like insight into what it was like in Boston back then or you’re someone who appreciates good writing, you might want to pick up a copy of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Poseur by Doug Holder

---- Ed Meek  is the winner of the 2006 Blue Light Book Award~~~~ Ed Meek has published poetry, fiction and articles in The Paris Review, Yankee, North Dakota Quarterly, Cream City Review, The North American Review, The Boston Globe, etc. His most recent poetry collection is Spy Pond  (Prolific Press)

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