by Alan Catlin. Pavement Saw Press, isbn 1-886350-83-3. PO Box 6291, Columbus, Ohio, 43206.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
This is along awaited, most necessary collection for it presents the full dynamics of Alan Catlin as poet. David Baratier writes a fitting introduction ’ specifically how he found Catlin’s work in a library as a young man and found relief in Catlin’s vision and understandings of world, life and living and the daily-ness of upstate New York town life. It is a justice. It brings together poems from 26 books by Catlin (some long forgotten and impossible to find) and is over 150 poems long ’ yes this is nice solid, long needed collection. A life’s work and a life masterwork to write that. Oh yeah, this is a cocktail shaken by Catlin for intoxication for all and for all occasions, any occasion too! Drink hardy. Well that is easy to say. Too easy. Catlin moves from Joyce, which for small press poet, isn’t the everyday. Kerouac, the only other outsider poet, off hand, that finds a launch pad from Joyce. But Catlin do. That part of Joyce that wonders and philosophical Catlin is also as he is in personification Joyce. Interesting, most interesting. This collection presents a poet involved in a life of reading and contemplation of words as art and then this is a manifestation of that practice. This collection does flesh out the bar poet. Flesh deep and rich and read and I am happy to read this book and happy for press and most happy that small press does have such reward. And each word then is measured in Catlin’s work, like a shot and so many mixers. And an olive and a cherry or an onion or a hair curler. And there are always those strange entities, the odd people that inhabit the poetics of small press. And there is passion and humor, on occasion also but most often a sharp insight, the flash of silver in the murky, muddy water of existence in America. Whatever the fix it is a master that progresses with these words, weaving, and the relentless practice of the waves Good.