Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Steve Henn's new zine outta Albany plus more good graces of Christopher Robin and ZB

Received a packet--- pure crack jax box but with a number of secret surprises inside-- from underground prodigy ULAer Christopher Robin of Zen Baby fame with this ‘zine therein-- at a magical moment of some import. I had been knocked for a loop by the most recent love interest (in fact the first in many years ) in my sorry life and (luckily) for me the young creature was on her way back to her parents’ house in the Shenandoah foothills of the Carolinas. When I yanked this ‘zine out of Christopher’s CARE- package the resemblance of the cover to countenance of my aforementioned infatuation calmed my troubled heart which had the additional effect of reminding me how indebted I am to the “glorified nobody” for consistently putting the underground literary fire to my feet.

POPULAR REALITY, SPECIAL REPORT. P.O. Box 66426, Albany, NY. 12206

Henn publisher provocateur . $3.00.

A cheap even rickety “traditional “zine’ out of the post-industrial rust belt upper state New York does what it does unabashedly and will suceed in raising the spirits if not the hackles of the underemployed minimum wage Darma bum. Better than television by a long shot. American idol, “Lost” and many of the talking head pseudo- science journalism “news” shows swamping the air-waves of these end-times are the paradigms herein superceded. Cases in point follow from cover to cover which domain must occlude the front cover which might be considered obscene, approximately dirty if it weren’t so deliciously ridiculous.

Surreal news “articles” like “Christ Kills Two, Injuries Seven In Abortion- clinic Attack”, a report from Pine Tree State Mind Control, a lovely and provocative MySpace Survey from none-other than Misti Rainwater-Lites that is worth at least three bucks.

Reprints of old and recent news articles from the vague past as well as the sorry-ass present: what really caught my attention for obvious reason was the derive tweaked “MOTHER SUES AFTER LEARNING CITY GAVE SLAIN SON’S BRAIN TO PENN”.

The longer “feature-op ed like assays ans analyses into the heart of ridiculous darkness such as pieces by Boram, The Refrigerator’s Ritual Infection I by Nadine Halley, Hope For Homos, and then again the longer pieces that may be best described as non-non fiction to the order on the order of, “The Suicide Of Everyday Life, a wage slave dreams by Lee Reiherzer, and “We Are Scientists” the state of shit, were especially poignant. But over all this crazy “zeen” is not only touching to certain prevalent mentally disturbed types but definitely “touched” all by its lonesome.

FDW. West Philly. 2/22/09.



Zeitgeist Press, 96pp.perfect-bound. soft cover book. 12.95 US

Reviewed by FDW, ULA.

Nice guy spoils himself with the writing poetry and turns into a pretty cool writer of poems.

The writing is worth reading and keeping to read again the narrative vignettes grow on one particularly.

Also worth getting to get a handle of what kind of literary action is out there in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Isaacson and his family reside as one may wonder about such things whenever Las Vegas is brought up for the usual reasons in a conversation. Special attention should be paid to the prose-poem, "The Old Poet" which entertains

a viable folkloric story thread about what might easily be an American archetypal apprehension regarding the poet as mythopoeia figure. With extreme insight.

Parabolic for the people and having a subtly disturbing Gothic edge that underscores Isaacson's Yankee culture and higher education. "Teenage" is very representive

of this ambience.

DUMBSTRUCK is damn- straight and righton solid stuff. Often in these without exception interestingly titles poems, the humor and the sight gags may seem a bit deliberated and irksome to one but not really as the reader will be rewarded for their patience after seeing through the poem. The good spirit that directs the angle of incidence and the warmth of the bread at hand consistently make the experience worthwhile. Tho some of the shorter poems may seem like cloying ploys, but so what. The whole book vibrates with competents and the certainly that is rooted in an actual creative competence and fortitude and many of the shorter pieces act as rest stops to give the reader an opportunity to cool down between the "heavier" swinging more expansive compositions. Here is roving organic poetries, good solid vers livre/libre-- spring board off of what Aldington (1915) declares, "We fight for its [vers livre ] as for a principle of liberty." -- good examples here: "Blood Sugar Blues", "Going Back To Brenda" are worth every second and the savor of each with an easy seamless flow and emotional rewards that are the reason we read if not write poetry, To begin with.

Tracking the wave of the most effective and representive, "How Are You Doing", p12 and the incredible "Carousel", pp. 14-17, placing the theme ("theme" because there's a dialectical or two) succinctly riding the crest of emotional import, a human one a deeply humane one in situations we may have guessed at-- before coming to Isaacson's book-- in the actual world, including business, of relationships, and more.


Pudding House Chapbook Series, Pudding House Publications, Columbus, OH. quarto-sized chapbook

(2007) staple-bound, 32pp.

A sweet and oft powerful tome of advocacy and advocacy and witnessing,

whereas the title poem is a fine piece of madness.

Notice: this poetry is important for people who neither like for reasons that are moral as they claim poetry nor read the oracular art as well, as those who do and do, because these poems are to a piece significant swan songs for the domineering News and of the contemporaneous truth of underground lit. And fun as Hell and as sharp to partake.

This Henn cat has a chip on his shoulder and never far off the mark his every fiber refuses the chip the Power tries to put into his poets' head. Maybe because it's there in black and white on the cover and reiterated within this too slender chap, the mention of Ambrose Bierce sold me on wanting to write this up beat review. That and the fact that Christopher sent me a free review copy. Seriously this some the best most worth while and surreally humoress array of outsider poetry this one has had the pleasure to peruse so far ao good this year. This poetry speaks for itself not from a soapbox or podium but from the stage of stand-up and vaudeville cut-ups of what most gets under the skin of a reader of American poetry these days. Or imbibe of slam for that matter. Good stuff for peanuts at ten bucks.

".. fifteen minutes of scraping ice, take

the wife's, the boss bitching

'bout twenty minute late,..." --- "REALTY TV". A most excellent and pleasant word play but at hip-hop speed! "Royal Rumble: Gay Pride Parade And Klan Demonstration", is a excellent low down yellow journalismo a la fin de siecle but as funny as the Marx Brothers. Also plus plus to checking out "How To Turn Yourself

Into A Stalker ", screwball purple-prose socked into a fluorescent straight jacket of wham- bam verse. See these poems as just plumb good advice in the form of a quick fix manual of blue-prints and still every inch a book of poetry.

Brian VanRemmen, THE OPTIMIST, Hip Pocket Books. Buffalo, New York. (2007) w/ a preface by Brian McMahon. tough soft-cover, perfect-bound taped-

spine, pocket digest-book, with twenty-one ct. 4-color collage/montage most with 'texte'. 100pp.

A note on the title- frontispiece indicates these poems were writ in DC.

Takes kindly from life at first at least in the first half of this well put together compact book withdrawn but happily disaffected and then kicking and

screaming with optimal affect in the second half. The Trimania 2005 gathering of Buffalo artist and poets is cited as pivotal to the organization and context of the THE OPTIMIST . Influences besides comrade Hip Pocket notables, Johnt, Poerhn and McMahon are and evidenced in the faculties of the poet as well. There's besides

the important influences of Jack Spicer, WCW, and Kerouac and "confessional" influence via Robert Lowell informed by real personal history.

Negative capability snaps into action-ventures in the winding and unwinding of great representative pieces such as: "Thru The Trapdoor". Most successful

are Robert Duncan-esque, less Creeley-esque, are "Final Friday" and the sharp journalese of pp. 67 through 71, and pp. 55-59.

VanRemmen when opening up to composition by 'field' should allow and just leave well enough go of adjective or adverb or connective conjunction as these kinds of words naturally tend to fall away and fray at the edges of such compositions. "The Poison Apartment" and "The Relapse" for example would benefit.

The Creeley influenced segues are good for domestic and closet dramas but VanRemmen might be better advised to be more sensitive to the fact that resistance becomes friction unless the proven failures of an admitted master be purged from the work of the student at some point the sooner the better in the development of that student's self sufficient "voice". Where this self - management directive is apparently working is when VanRemmen

like an alchemist engages diverse raw material at his command, a true bricoleur. The stuff of Constuctivism's (Russian Futurism, i.e.), namely, "phrasical verse" (sorta like the 'samplings' of our hip hop rap dj brethren and sisters?), branded texte, emails, mixed stencil-typography, over all shifts in confabulated emphasis, etc. So that the willing reader is enabled to intensively drift along these intersections and alternative routes of VanRemmen's heart and mind. Retro (because essentially radical subjective extrapolations from none other than the American confessional school) Futurist, since a lot of the work here is composed with "free" disassociative associations violent but not agressively so (in other words 'fun"), praxis, nexus, and loci of the perception in turn personal memory. Also visionary, visuals like in "Cradle Of America", "Note From The Verge". Day dreaming/day tripping out side and inside, "Eternal Sequence Of Rt. 23A", "Love Among The Ruins" again algebraic'ly not mathematically calculated arrangements.

The foot-loose 'uncouth' savor suggestive of spontaneity will attract the reading/writing public and overall underground while flaming the ill-literate company poets and Establishment fakes. Bravo, Brian, on an achievement well-tempered.