Friday, September 01, 2006

The Other Side of Broadway. Selected Poems: 1965-2005. A.D. Winans. ( Presa s Press POBOX 792 Rockford, Michigan 49341) $18.

I am very familiar with the work of A.D. Winans. I have interviewed him, reviewed his books, published a chap of his, argued with him, learned from him, and I am regularly in touch with him via the internet. A.D. Winans is a straight shooting son-of-a gun, a poet who has lived the life and walked the walk. Like Bukowski, Fox, Catlin, Lifshin, and to a lesser extent Galing, Winans has appeared in many of the small press magazines that have cropped up over the past several decades. The poet/laureate of San Francisco Jack Hirschman, writes (in his introduction to “The Other Side of Broadway…”) about Winans, and his fellow travelers Bukowski, Bob Kaufman and Jack Micheline:

“While the literary “Beats,” were becoming commercially and academically acceptable, those three remained luminaries to those who felt that the real poetry of These States had to be written within and about the nightmare of the American Dream. And even when Bukowski wrote himself out of his dirty paper bag and into a kind of commercial glory…there was still enough in him of street imagination for Winans to pay brotherly tribute.”

Winans is not politically correct, he doesn’t posture, he isn’t affected, and does not breathe rarefied air. He is a tough old bird and proud of it. He’s stingy with praise, so when he gives it to you, you really feel you have earned it. Now in his 70’s, he seems as passionate about his work as he ever was…maybe more so. Although I have read many of these poems before it is great to have them in one collection. Here you can look at Winans holistically; the whole corpus, so to speak.

My favorite section of the book is title “Cityscapes,” where he pays gritty homage to San Francisco, his home. In “City Poet” Winans captures the frenzy of a creative mind on its run savaging the city streets for food for its hungry and visceral art:

“Once addiction sets in
There is no stopping it
You become a serial killer
Attacking the keyboard at will
Your mind working in shifts
Strange creatures live inside your head
Show no mercy give no ground
Forcing your fingers to do their bidding
Writing down your thoughts in your
Loose-leaf notebook.”

In the “Poets and Poetry” section Winans takes on all the Bukowski mimics, and gets to the real core of their need, with the poem: “For All Those Kids Who Couldn’t Get Enough Of Bukowski.”

“These kids could never
Get enough of him
Not in books or magazines
Or on rare occasions in person
They wrote poems for and
About him
They bemoaned the fact that
He hadn’t been accepted
By the Academics
As if this were somehow
A liability
They flailed away
At the establishment
Supposedly on his behalf
But I suspect that getting
Their names in print
Had more than a little
To do with it…”

In a tribute to the late poet d.a. levy, Winans describes how hard it is to try to defeat the system, a theme the late poet tackled: “and we go on too/ like a tired tongue/ resting between the legs of a very bored woman…”

The other sections of the book are titled: “Women,” “Politics,” “Looking Back/Reflections,” “Jazz,” and “Family.”

Jack Hirschman writes of Winans:

“…his is a poetry of information in times of enormous barrages of misinformation and lies, a poetry of witness that records the widespread injustices of contemporary life in a language that is hard-edged, direct and driven by an honesty that insists it is more than honesty, is the moment’s truth, as he sees it.”

And boy does he see it, and he gives it right back to us; right between the eyes.

Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ Somerville, Mass. / Sept. 2006

1 comment:

  1. a. d. winans6:31 PM

    Thanks for the kind words and nice review. I appreciate the sentiments expressed.

    a.d. winans