by J. P. Dancing Bear. 2004. 90 pages. Turning Point, P.O. Box 541106, Cincinnati, Ohio 45254-1106. www.turingpointbooks.com
Book Review by Michael Basinski
The book forms, via episodic poetic moments of particular significance in the life/spiritual journey of one Billy Last Crow: A Native American. He suffers the indignation of being an original American and by that fact being outside of America. He is an other, an out of the law of the land and culture character. Throughout the poetry there is the self of this -other- seeking his self in a world that will not allow him (you) to be a full partner in it. Perhaps this is the real metaphor for living in America - the experience of always being outside of its vapid practice. But, nevertheless, somehow there are these wishes to be part of it, its all powerful, its seeming ability to envelop and contain everything - everything but you (the outsider self). Philosophical cultural stuff - Yeah? Yeah! It’s here and not punching you in the face with its smartness. It just an IS thing. Here. However, as with all terrific poetry, the poetry also operates to allow Billy Last Crow to find himself in himself. It is, this book of poetry, many journies in one. It is an attractive book and the poems are highly refined. They are the craft. I am attracted to a poem called Billy Ghost Crow, where Billy, in the end, enters the Ghost, spiritual, world. He, I’d suggest, becomes the poet and, therefore, we learn the place of the poet in our culture, America, art, the Native and the outsider, and , all of this in milieu of century 21.