by Editor: Maura Gage. 224 pages. The Louisiana Review, Division of Liberal Arts, Louisiana State University at Eunice, P.O. Box 1129, Eunice, LA. 70535.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
The readership flock of The-Hold knows and reads Lyn Lifshin, A. D. Winans and Gerald Locklin. Duane Locke’s been around for thirty years or more. Herschel Silverman knows Donald Lev. Of course, Antler knows Jeff Poniewaz. I know, via the snail mail, that T. Kilgore Splake lives way up in Northern Michigan and I know that I went to college with Jerry McGuire, but he might not remember. Mark Hartenbach is from East Liverpool, Ohio. We all know cait collins. Obviously this is a community of writers, more than 100, here represented in this issue of The Louisiana Review. More than that, this issue brings together a form of American poetry that’s been neglected, in general, by the academy, big publishing houses and the white wine, soft cheese, uptown Manhattan pink poodles and the downtown gently soiled Manhattan and spilling over into Brooklyn pink poodles and the network of poodle washing McDonald-salon poetry Disney too many everywhere all over the U.S of A. The reality for most of the poets in this issue of LR is second shift. Here in one finds an anthology of sub-canonical poets who are populace and popular beneath the high brow. It’s legitimacy as a form of poetry stems from its tradition, now decades old, which began in magazines like Hearse, The Outsider and Marvin Malone’s The Wormwood Review, and it’s major pantheon of inspiration includes Charles Bukowski. The vitality and extent of this community and its tenacious vibrancy stems from a frank exchange of reality, which is sometimes mournful, base, corrupt and stupid, and yet includes an acknowledgement via form to Modernism. Its experiment is that poetry is not totally a cerebral ideology but a common daily event, like coffee, bills and Republican lies. Maura Gage, her co-editors and editorial staff at The Louisiana Review obviously understands this. Gage has done a most marvelous job mapping this diverse, truly sprawling and representative constellation of poets. She has assembled a unique document of a world academically unrecognized but vibrant and diverse as any rain forest. More than a discoverer or an explorer, Maura Gage is a caretaker and a literary historian who has here made a document and poetic primer for a type of poetry that enhances the comfort zone of American poetry and expands our literary myopia.