by FreeThought Publications. 36 pages. 2001. FreeThought Publications, PO Box 6011, San Clemente, CA. 92674.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
This anthology features four poets. They are A. D. Winans, Bradley Mason Hamlin, Gerald Locklin and Geoffrey Barber. There is a great introduction by poet Neeli Cherkovski, who points out most clearly the unique qualities of the type of poetry gathered in this book, and there are picture poems throughout by B. L. Kennedy. Usually I don’t like picture poems, so to speak, or visuals dropped here and there in books. However, B. L. Kennedy’s are the exception. I liked them. I wanted to steal what he wrote and drew. I was pissed that I did not imagine what he imaged. So - compliments to B. L. Hey, Kennedy - you got there first - great work - keep it up. Well, I don’t have to write to tell A. D. Winans and Gerald Locklin to keep it going. Both batches of poems by these veterans are mighty worthy of the word poem.
Locklin’s poem Picasso 2000 has a long passage on desire, which was most defining of the great Picasso but also perhaps desire in all poets and people also.
Winans’s poem Poet for the Genius Poets defines clearly the stance (his stance) of the poet of the people verses the stinky verse - the worst of the worst, the tired poet as professional poet. The poet who eats baloney for breakfast, paints hospital rooms, can use a screwdriver (Philips), eats tuna out of the can during a half-hour lunch break, etc. is a poet that says something that is of immediate import. Those who think are always smart! Winans knows that the prizes go to the groomed poodles. It is something that we all must remember. Locklin knows each day - he don’t have to remember. Then in this book are these young guys Hamlin and Barber.
Hamlin’s poems twist your ears with a passion for the excitement, joy, and fistfight of life. Nothing laiback in these poems. It is laid out on the bread as a tick layer of mustard and hot peppers and plenty of black pepper and NO bland turkey breast to interfere with the horseradish of words surging up the nostrils. His poetry clears the hands and waters the eyes.
Barber’s poetry ponders the stupid world and grants philosophical insight spun with lusts and wishes. He observes the actions of humanity with suspicion and gives an obtuse spin to the daily routine capturing, for us, what is in most minds but not reported. Seeing what is really there is an art. We are lucky Barber writes it down.
So there you have it, a great sampler of solid poet work. Some work from the pillars to continue to get us through the days and long nights and then some fresh voices, voices that with the help of strong livers will be around to become pillars themselves.