Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PRESA ( Spring 2008) Reviewed by Irene Koronas

Presa :S: Press

"I do not put down the academy but have

assumed its function in my own person..."

-Philip Whalen

Number 7, Spring 2008
Featured Poet: Doug Holder
Lest We Forget: Etheridge Knight
Toward a new eclecticism: Eric Greinke

This issue of Presa is chalk full of good poets and
poems. I especially enjoyed the essay by Eric Greinke
and reading about the poet Etheridge Knight. I will be
reading this issue over the next few weeks, but my
focus is, presently, on Doug Holder.

I am biased. Doug Holder gets my immediate, full
attention, because of his active presence in the local
communities around the Boston area, he is well
established as a poetry activist and without his
support and validation as a writer/poet I would not be
able to write this review. It is Doug Holder who
opened a door for me many years ago. Many poets owe
him a thank you. I love Doug Holder and he can do no
wrong, (that’s a bit of an exaggeration. but you get
my drift.)

The five poems printed in this edition of Presa #7,
I’ve heard Doug read except for, “with my shirt off.”
In that particular poem he presents the reader with a
scant peek at being in a vulnerable position, love.
His love, his honesty, packed into a short verse, "and
my love, will you love the rest?” In the words, “the
rest” leads me on a journey and will set the tone for
the rest of his poetry. If we take the words at face
value it is still powerful writing, but if we allow
ourselves to muse on that simple phrase, “the rest” I
have to ask what is ’the rest.’ I will not answer here
because it doesn’t seem appropriate to the review,
except to say, ’the rest’ is apropos to my situation.
In his poem “looking at a lone woman at a bar,” Doug
places me in front of a photograph, in front of a
person sitting alone, a person from a painting by
Toulouse Lautrec, or an Edward Hopper. Holder captures
the same isolation, “they are always impenetrable.”
From our modern or contemporary societies or systems,
Doug offers us the opportunity to feel what it is like
to wait in line, have a casual glance with out a
meeting, a consummation or any action. We could say it
is because of the glass protecting the photograph. The
poem’s expanse, “no-my gaze will not be met.” a simple
word phrasing, ’met’ becomes for me, an implication,
each reader will find for themselves. the phrasing is
poignant, a realization, the reality of being the
viewer, a passive participant, similar to Lautrec and
Hopper, who show us in their work, the barren human
landscape, and Dianne Arbus, the queen of outsider
depictions. Holder is a master of the simple word

The poems in this edition of Presa, speak in laud soft
voices. Holder’s voice is often times, subtle,
humorous, astute, and always familiar. So familiar, we
may over look the profound nature of the simple
phrasing, a figure sitting in front of us, the people
who visit joke shops, or the people who collect our
money from a small enclosed booth, or the extinct
booth in the middle of an under pass. Doug Holder
sees. He offers us a chance to invite that same
difference into our own perspective. His poems present
the imperfections perfectly present:

The Perfect Lawn

far from boston
I will neuter it.
I will mow
that plot
before the
plot thickens.

cut all the intrusive
outside of the box
gay blades.

in my narrow mind
I picture a broad lawn
a perfect rectangle
where I draw
the line.

no random weed
will drop
will be felt
on my
green pelt.

Doug Holder can never be overlooked. We all know, or
at least we will all know his work is as great as any
of those great paintings hanging in the ‘Met.’ I dare
not compare his work to significant, ‘other’ poets
such as…. you know, some of those u.s. of a. poet
laureates. In my book he is the Mother Teresa of the
small press. Oh God, Doug will not enjoy that
reference, I’ll change it.
He’s the wailing wall for unknown poets. nah. He won’t
like that either. okay. Doug Holder can reach tall
buildings in a single bound.

He can flip a coin phrase faster than a speeding
bullet. He is always the first one to show-up for a
meeting. He always welcomes new poets and writes. He
always passes out flyers and the local newspapers,
with poetry event schedules. He always has a poem in
his small brown notebook in his back pocket

Irene Koronas
Poetry Editor
Wilderness House Literary Review

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