by Alan Catlin. Four-sep Publications, PO Box 12434, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53212. www.four.sep.com
Book Review by Michael Basinski
At various points that make up the long line of living, it is bartenders that help us, in silence and with their bar skills most often, thanks, or simply as all ears. Yep, they help us just be for a spell so we can again get a moving along the many dots and periods that make up the thread of existence. Now when a barmaster (a super bartender) is a poet you pitiful slob asking for a drink becomes the clay of the poem. Alan Catlin is a barmaster and Alan Catlin is a poet. Each poem in this Catlin book is titled with the name of some wild and out-there super drink - or cocktail name like: Wet Spot, Zipperhead, Corpse River etc. and the recipe of the drink is just beneath the title and beneath that in the poem. Each poem is a form of portrait of the drinker. I am sure that Catlin has served them all and more than once. The poems ring and smell and taste of all the bars I have been in and the one you are in at this time - look around - there are poems and you a poem also! A delightful collection here. You can find the person next to you in here and down the bar and I got to thinking of al the poems I meet over the decades. Catlin’s poems paint accurate psychic portraits of a diverse and strange oddly common set of personality types that make up us as humanity in this bar of America. Barmasters are therapists for sure and priests. Catlin, with the skill of a bat flying the dusk sky after a fat flying insect, can whip a drink with no doubt two fingers while watching TV and capture in a blink or a flick of a match, with poet pen the constellation of pathologies that make up any one individual. I like that. I like that but I am afraid to drink at Catlin’s bar (Jesus - what am I?).