The Back East Poems

by Gerald Locklin. 2000 Liquid Paper Press, PO. Box 4973 Austin, Texas, 78765. 64 pages $5.00.

Book Review by

Gerald Locklin writes effortless, easy flowing, flawlessly engineered poems. Without the pretence, cerebral arrogance or aggressive verbal acrobatics of those cloistered in University towers or those rich kids sun- bathing after lunch in the south of France. The poems of Gerald Locklin debunk the notion that poetry is the private club of eggheads. Poetry in the life of Locklin is everyday and the everyday. The poems are about the wandering of the mind, its tangled web and the inevitable twists of fate that governs life. These Back East poems track the traveling poet Locklin traveling from reading to reading, Niagara Falls, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Akron, and visiting his children, and children and the last living of his aunts in Rochester, New York, and are about the dogs he meets (four different dogs in the pages of this collection). Traveling back east from California (to where Locklin was born) gives place and reason for the writing of these poems. However, The Back East Poem are really not totally just all about these locations or the poet people he encounters. The poems succinctly define the place of poetry in Locklin’s own life, which guides each of us, each reader, to the poetic recess of our own imagination. Each of us, each day encounter poetry. As the mind wonders/wanders in the everyday fate and the ironic notion of mind - misdirection - like hating a painting in his house and later realizing is was Renoir or taking the wrong medicine the little items of everyday life - the quirky turns in the river are the stuff of Locklin’s poetry. Generous - and filled with love of family and friends. And he is happy for life and the storms and oddities and tricks and seeks the quite time. Locklin is king of chapbooks for sure and this one is one of his traveling narrative/journals in poetry. Here all the ironic tricks, the private, the yearning for more days of writing all appear here in front of him: fate/time/friends/children/ah - the things of poetry.