by Andy Clausen. Autonomedia, Williamsburgh Station, Brooklyn, New York, 11211-0568 190pp.$8.00.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
Poet Andy Clausen finds his tradition in the wandering, exploring, growing American poets, like Kerouac. And Clausen’s poetry has also a social consciousness. He knows that injustice hurts those most who cannot afford to purchase justice, the too silent American working class. Giving his life in pursuit of a poetry that records his maturation, insights, errors, ups and downs, turns, curves and backslides, Clausen, the son of immigrants, finds himself a perpetual outsider. He is the 40th century man, the alien in America, the Lone Ranger Poet in front of the runaway American LOCOmotive. He has chosen (or by fate was destined) to be an outsider. I mention this because Clausen’s poetry is not the poetry of a rich brat experiencing (slumming) life for a few years only to return the wide green, chemically treated, upper class, suburban lawn life. From the outside of inner center privilege, Clausen is quite uniquely suited to chronicle the last thirty years. His poetry depends on an honest insight and an honest commitment. It is an honesty that he cannot and can never walk away from or dodge. He is honest. His life, via the poems, attests to this. His poetic realism is, therefore, in many ways uncomfortable. It is risky. In fact, poet and poetry risk everything for insight and clarity. Clausen pledged to be true to his own self. He pledges to record the world he encounters. He has and is. The poems are ordered from the most recently written (the continuous frank present) and march backward through time. He begins by insight, explores, and throughout his history, Clausen is looking and finding. Still, he is seeking. On the path, the road, on the journey thought life, Clausen proves, again and again, that poetry is essential.