Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Also just signed the contract for a new book with Poptritus Press. This man is very professional and knowledgeable, and I'm confident that he will do an absolutely first rate job. It will be ready in May 2009. Very very pleased by this, it will be up to 60 pages or so. Cool. They are here. I'm determined that this will be my best book. It will rock.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Also noticed some other "David McLean" - that guy I mentioned before with the God stuff. Seems there are some poems at the website known as poetry.com. Be assured that this is not me. Hopefully we are easy to tell apart. Wouldn't mention it or draw attention to them otherwise, but I want to avoid being credited with them, and wouldn't want people to think that I would have work there.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Train to Chihuahua
by Travis Blair
book review by David McLean
Old Seventy Creek Press
Travis Blair's first full-length book is an anthology of his poems about Mexico, a record of his youthful trips to Mexico that are crafted to also homage a love, a relationship to a woman, at least i hope it's one woman who is the she in all the poems where a name is unspecified, and to time, death and aging. Frida Kahlo, Jesus and Janis Joplin are there. If the essence of poetry is nostalgia for presence, poems being then postcards from nowhere describing something we assume really existed, or ought to exist, then these poems are a beautiful revenge on ugly time and its “It was.” It's as though Mexico symbolizes a source of ineffable fertility and density of being, a color in the gray that life so easily becomes, a place where the actual living happens, in penury and abjection sometimes, but always alive, and Travis feels himself real there, not where we acquire large dogs, jobs, and mortgages without really noticing while we are stupefied by ambitious self-medication, but a special place the light and colors let him see what is inside him.
when I shook them to hear
their seed sounds
and feel them brush
against the skin
like our baby kicking
inside her belly.
the green maracas have hung
on a wall in my den
like moss in the trees
of Chapultepec Park
when love long ago
and we were young.
The poems incorporate descriptions of nature that are often quite phenomenal, showing a genuine ability to swiftly make anything from a heron to a seal live for us a moment with just the right number of words, an ability to create the colors in us. And these splashes of described life are contextualized into the poet's experience of his being, his need
Four months after death
tapped me on the shoulder
handed me a brainstem stroke
I return once more
to the Sea of Cortez –
a broken poem
void of rhythm and rhyme
clumsy-worded as my gait
empty of all grace
seeking a way back.
Mornings I laze
on a back porch hammock
gazing at the sea
drawn to the sight of seals
floating on their backs
noses in the air, flippers waving
above the whitecaps
their playful barks resonant
as baritones calling me
“Come play with us.”
But I am afraid to swim
out beyond the rocks.
All in all, the poems in this book hang together beautifully, and they are an intoxicating world of shades, hues, and odors where bulls sometimes gore bullfighters, where we do get to swim out beyond the rocks and the seals are happy for that, where owls sit vivid in dead trees and wait for civilization to fall asleep. One poem in the book describes finding a perfect beach off the beaten tourist track. That's what this book is like, a special afternoon from somebody's life that you get to share, to see and smell the experiences that made them a unique individual, in this case the poet Travis Blair. If you don't buy it then you may regret that your life is so gray, but it will be your own fault, not time's, because now is the time to do it and I told you so, fuckers, so go do it at this link.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Belinda and her Friends
chapbook by Puma Perl
reviewed by David McLean
This chapbook, the first by Puma Perl, is an exceptionally real depiction of life in a part of New York in the last millennium, where heroin or alcohol abuse is an integral part of life, where life is cold but full of a transient warmth, where hearts are larger than you might expect. It depicts a character Belinda and her encounter with a living in a world shared with several very vividly portrayed characters who manage to snatch some meaning from the worthless life to which the very poor are subjected everywhere -
so the red bandana tied around her forehead
meant nobody got hit yet not even any yelling
there was beer and twenty dollar
bills in two pockets it was a good day and it
happened twice a month and everyone was happy
The book steadfastly refrains from preaching, it does not whine about unscrupulous dealers and the evils of welfare, it shows instead of preaching. And it exudes an almost unbearable nostalgia like Burroughs calling down the centuries with no voice and lips for boys who are gone and times that are gone and maybe never really existed, except here the times and people were real, real as children and a mother's obligation
(our secrets shared and buried in benches
we drank beer through a straw
our kids raced across the playground
fearless wild-haired unruly
dropping juice boxes, crushing pretzels
we stayed for hours after everyone had left
whispering stories, picking up kids as they fell)
Puma Perl is an extraordinary poet, she captures a feel here so exquisitely and a sense of place that seems entirely appropriate to listening to Willie De Ville, it's “so, so real” now, and it's the sort of life he used to evoke as a young man. “I ain't no rocket just a shooting star”
I feel our last words as the sun streams down
We are the unknown ancestors
We are picture frames, empty as a midnight sandbox
Only imaginary friends left to tell the tales
of whispered secrets hidden in
brightly painted, but still broken benches
This poetry is nostalgic and beautiful, it is nostalgic in the sense that is a longing for presence and being and the ability of being to defy nonentity and lying time. Belinda died, like junkies tend to do, so she is absolutely absent now, exists nowhere. Thus the words do poetry's duty by pretending that she exists there. In a sense that makes the words a homage to life, assuming it to be something worth preserving, all the futile living, and this is what makes it sad and beautiful. Saying that we have souls is just another way of saying that we'd quite like to be immutable and dead like stones. Better to be Belindas and be temporary, finally go forever, but in the meantime get drunk and very, very stoned.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Dancing on Thin Ice
Chapbook by George Anderson
Erbacce press ISBN: 978-1-906588-29-8
reviewed by David McLean
This new chapbook is a cynical and funny account of life, sexuality, love, violence, and motorbikes. It is often raw and exhilarating, the language well-tooled and crafted
the elderly couple
leave the cinema
& in fast forward mode
visibly age. Die. There is
a solemn, quickly forgotten
the Bonneville circles
again. The dark visors of the
bars of light
There are really excellent images here and the poems work well together. They even become reflexive
I suppose some MFA student in the distant future
will ask what this or that line means
or the symbolism behind such and such image
but let me assure you dear reader-
there are no lessons to be learnt here,
no underlying meaning, no ironic commentary about existence
it all just happened as I tried to describe it
I can recommend this book both for the slightly brutal humor of many of the poems and for the underlying truth of its cynical take on life, like in a poem about photographing roadkill
the use of metaphor is acceptable
but keep it simple & always link it
back to the blurred line
between art & excrement
And it's seldom that poems ever reflect on the pleasures of kicking the shit out of somebody, they aren't usually that honest, that real. So buy this book for being the delectable exception.
It's at Erbacce-press.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Before and Well After Midnight,
Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
black book madness Vol 5
by David McLean
This new chapbook by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal is the fifth in deadbeat press' excellent black book madness series. They present us partly with glimpses into a magical world that we might not like to be in, partly with glimpses of a modern society we mostly don't want to be in. One poem speaks more than the 38 words it is.
People think the worst of me
because loneliness has put
its hat on my head. I have
no purpose in this world.
This makes me seem like a
dangerous man, like I could slit a
His most characteristic poems are those about the animals of madness, a frightening mental bestiary where worms from rotting apples bite you as you walk on the grass and make you younger, language falls away from you, and you drown crawling back to the womb, the origin of life.
Other poems deal with social issues, police objecting to “immigrants just wanting to dance all night,” with sick children seeking justice from a god who has unsurprisingly betrayed them, since he doesn't exist.
Favorites here are The President's daughter
I am making a statement by
not combing my hair. I don’t
care where I go from here.
Everything will take care of itself.
I am the president’s daughter.
and the before mentioned one about the girl querying God
to fix His
work a new
to make her
to prove that
He loved her.
All in all a phenomenal chapbook. Everything from love to political protest, but first and foremost tales of ordinary extra-ordinary madness, how we become invisible, how we become so little nobody will miss us.
Order here - You won't regret it.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Then there's a hat trick of reviews by me of Alan Corkish's Bum Rap here, Rob Plath's There's a little hobo in my heart here and Misti Rainwater-Lites' Pretty Red Berries here.
There's a link there to Rob's sellers. Misti's book is here, and Alan's is on sale here. I really recommend all these books. All their other stuff too. Alan and Rob need wine and Misti needs diapers and other stuff. Buy them, buy mine, and buy angels in hell by Boschetto. I have a couple of new books arranged next year too, so start saving and fuck X-mas, mofos.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
EDIT: It's up now here. Other good stuff to read in that section too.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Speaking of Misti Rainwater Lites, who narrowly survived Ike, my review of her excellent new chapbook is here, and forthcoming in Clockwise Cat, and I do think you should buy that too, in an orgy of conspicuous expenditure.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Parenthetically, and this has absolutely no relation to FPJ or my poem, but, generally speaking, people who don't like the almsot excessively groovy Tricky are dickheads, and/or just jealous. Tricky rocks. God bless him.
In Swedish, "October" is spelled "Oktober" - a lot of things confuse me, but not that. It's refreshingly similar. No one is similar to Tricky (OK, maybe god is), and my poem is not at all like Joyce.