Pagan Supper

by Dan Sicoli. Pudding House Publications, 60 North Main Street, Johnson, Ohio 43031. www.puddinghouse.com

Book Review by

This is a fine selection by one of our best, and I am glad that it now exists and can be in your hand. This book, this Pagan Supper to which you sit, is that type of book of poetry the defines a progression in poetry, as did, for example, Bukowski’s first book, Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail, as did for example, Howl. Sicoli has been all about the small press for the past two decades. He knows the world, and he is from and is that world also. But now, in this post Bukowski small press, underground world, his literary instinct points us and leads out from under the giant shadow of King Charles the Buk. The poetry of the people has to march on. Sicoli is leading the charge. Keeping the all important cadence of the speaking voice, its inflections and grammatical patterns, Sicoli finds the fissures in images of strings of words to draw out and make visible a poetry that smarts and stings and was there (here) all along. His is a poetry of careful craft that does not loose sight of its origins in the daily. He follows a poetic philosophy that dictates that poetry is within the context of anyone and everyone. His audience is you. The poems are not melodramatic and not romantic or illusive. The poems render an American reality. As this confusing world roars past, Sicoli’s poems make one ponder our strange existence in the midst of this tremendously dreamlike state that veils our eyes with ice-cream and spit shinned suburban ghettos. Frank, candid and disturbing for its depiction of the ambivalent reality in which we live our existential and fanatic lives, Sicoli’s poetry makes one stop to finger the bruised apple from the tree of knowledge. The city is his literary landscape and his populace is composed of immigrants and bums and whores and working people. It is their imagination that is so ripely exhibited in Sicoli’s poetry. It is a point-of-view clouded by immigrant Catholicism and hangovers and a world in which Dan Sicoli dreams of being the poet Jesus,“i dreamed i was Jesus /slowly nodding out in a booth/ at an all-night dinner/ when a waitress nudged my shoulder/ i awoke/ grunted/ and forgave no one.”