Monday, July 10, 2017

For "Last Night at the Wursthaus" by Doug Holder

Courtesy of the Cambridge Historical Society

 ***This is a small piece that  Nina Rubinstein Alonso wrote for my  new poetry collection "Last Night at the Wursthaus" due out Sept 1, 2017 from the Grey Sparrow Press.  Nina is the founder of Constellations magazine based in Cambridge, MA.

For "Last Night at the Wursthaus" by Doug Holder   

Introduction by  Nina R. Alonso

One of Doug Holder’s poems quotes Heraclitus, “No man steps in the same river twice,” but his writing generates double-vision, the feeling of past as present, existing in the flow of continual change.

We’re in Harvard Square’s Wursthaus (now replaced by a faceless bank) overhearing the flow of vintage chatter, then watching a man scratch losing lottery tickets one after the other, then in a too quiet Harvard library where “caged scholars/circle their wired cages like rats/gnawing on manuscripts.” In Filene’s Basement he’s shopping, as “it was a place to go when you’re happy or desperately hurt.”

 He shifts to the Bronx where ancient Jewish women sit on lawn chairs and his Uncle Dave called George Gershwin ‘a good kid.’  These people and places are familiar to me and to many of us who lived in the same space and island of time, understand eyes that see through our adult guise to what we were like in junior high: “You can’t/bullshit the blonde/ she knows.”

The book has integrity, cuts to heart center, but without a shred of excess. There’s no hype, no axe to grind, nothing being sold to us. We know his mother from our own, “At night/ the murmur of the dead/ hover around her bed.” I grew up in the neighborhood he rails against when he “screamed/ my screed/ against the suburbs/ the conspiracy of broad lawns/ and narrow minds.”

This world is under construction, bought and sold daily, repeatedly dug up, repaved, pieces erased, replaced and so full of invasive sales hype that we can’t even remember what was there before. We need this writer who sees and remembers to keep us centered, strengthen us, help us see what’s there, help us resist. Doug Holder’s writing has subtlety and substance, an authenticity that sustains.  

  ****Nina Rubinstein Alonso, editor of Constellations, has published in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Sumac, Avatar, Women-Poems, U. Mass. Review, and New Boston Review, among other places, and her first book This Body was printed by Godine Press.

She taught English literature at Brandeis University and U. Mass., Boston, while continuing training in ballet and exploring modern dance.

Saturated with academia, she taught at Boston Ballet for eleven years, and performed in their
Nutcracker, until sidelined by injuries. She makes her living teaching at Fresh Pond Ballet in Cambridge, MA. She says, “Now is the time for fresh voices in poetry and fiction. I’m looking for a new constellation.”

1 comment:

  1. Nina, you perfectly defined how Doug's poetry touches me " past as present, existing in the flow of continual change.