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Hack Job
by dave church

Green Bean Press, New York, ©2002.

a review by debbie kirk

“I recently asked my boss to install a
bullet proof shield in my taxi
- for customer safety.”

DAVE CHURCH ROMANTICIZED HIS SLEAZY LIFESTYLE, and I believe he enjoyed it most of the time. In this book, Dave is a storyteller, a philosopher, a psychologist of sorts, a fragile boy at confession, and the most incredibly resilient personality. There are far too many quotes in this little book than I can fit in this review (I’ll throw in a couple), but the honesty that comes thru is incredibly endearing and inspiring.

Don’t get me wrong. Dave was a dirty, tough, big boy. He really seemed to need nothing more than the page. This book is great AND dirty. I got it in my twenties and had about a week of peace... But there are real prostitute finger licking, bondage, drug deals with scumbags... At times your fingers feel dirty just from touching the pages filled with his words and stories, his... confessionals? The pages are a list of his diary as he is driving his taxi in Providence, with poems thrown in like candy. I think Dave NEEDED to write this book. But he found a way to turn his hard times into funny stories and never asked for sympathy.

This is real, raw, sexy pulp prose that will remain timeless. I don’t have time to get into the three Greek references he made. Also, he made two references to his mother. The book seems to outline a pattern of him getting his heart broken by whores over and over, perhaps because that is where he felt the most comfortable.

Reading this book gives that genuine voyeuristic feel that we all secretly crave. As I mentioned, Dave had a clear, almost philosophical vision and approach to it all. It seemed those streets, whores, drug dealers, and anyone else needed him as much he needed them as a catalyst. One example of this is here... “I see better in the dark the human conditions- all it’s strengths and failures.” He also confesses with pride “... I can’t live without gutter sex - even if it is generic.”

And yes, it’s true he said that “everyone dies a slow death from the soul”, and the slice on the page where he wrote “What is more fitting for a poet to die in an insane asylum?” But Dave never stopped. He pulled up his sleeves, put on the gloves and went right thru. He will be deeply missed by the writing community and I hope this book goes into reprint somewhere... it has the good stuff...

I’ll close on Dave’s words: “God is not the answer. God is the question - who, what, when, where, why and how? Personally, I think God is working as a carnival barker somewhere in the Midwest.”



From the Paris of New England;
Interviews with Poets and Writers

by doug holder

$18.50 • © 2008 • Ibbetson Street Press • 25 School Street • Somerville, MA 02143 • http://lulu.com/ibbetsonpress to order

a review by brian morrisey

PARIS ONCE REVELED IN THE ELEGANCE AND ARTISTRY of priding itself as a tight-knit community of poets and writers excelling in found inspiration off each other’s insight. Poetry today is thriving off electronic media via emails, facebook, twitter, etc. websites that have removed the face from all social interactions, nonetheless, poetic endeavors, but it is imperative we continue, as artists, looking directly into eyes behind the writer to deepen the impact of communication. I sometimes mock my insinuations that soon open mike poetry will be obsolete. I wait for the rise of online open mikes – how boring! However, in From the Paris of New England..., Doug Holder, a man who eats, breathes and lives poetry, has face time with 29 poets accessible to the thriving Boston literary milieu of intriguing writers.

As Richard Cambridge (Curator of the Poet’s Theatre – Club Passim) notes on the back cover in his blurb, “Ginsberg considered the interview an art form in the truest sense – bringing out the best of the artist,” which sums up why this book is of important relevance during a time when economic pressures are the artists’ major obstacle of survival and an over-whelming block of the creative aura.

I know reviewing POESY’s Boston editor might seem a bit self-gloating, but the truth is, I never intended to review it until I finished the book and realized the height of importance this collection really has in relation to the continuance of value American Poetry has in our society. We could have reviewed another self-indulging poet’s latest musings, but Holder’s interviews are proof that New England poetry is actively still the homestead of some of America’s finest poets.

I ordered this collection off the famed Lulu.com website (known for their accessibility for small press publisher’s open to runs of quantities anywhere from 1-100,000). A few eye-catching details convincing enough to order this book were:

1.) An introduction by the legendary small press historian himself, Michael
Basinski, who is Curator of the Poetry Collection at the University at Buffalo, the largest small press archive in the country. 2).Interviews with Ed Sanders, Robert Creeley, Louisa Solano, Hugh Fox, Steve Almond…

The interviews I found most intriguing were from the local voices. Mark Doty projects a natural approach on writing from a gay perspective. Dick Laurie, a veteran of the small press, publishing Hanging Loose, since 1966 and the changes he has weathered since then proving once again how well blues and poetry can intertwine.

Nothing is censored and every word is spilled onto the page for the reader to make of it what you will. Like in Tom Perrota’s interview, the answers were short and direct without much filler in between questions to the point where on more than one occasion, he was contradicting Doug’s thoughts.

The interviews also dig deep into a personal and trusting sit down as if the camera closes in on an extreme close-up of pure emotion outpouring onto the page, as with Lo Gallucio. She exposes the details of her experience locked down at a pysch-ward reaching a breaking point in New York City. Or the closing interview with Pagan Kennedy on her book, The First Man-made Man, about Laura Dillion’s transformation into Michael Dillion. Sure, it may be part of the norm of society today, but try this attempt in the 1940s. The book questions Buddhist ethics during Michael’s final verdict in Tibet, the ultimate rejection after what seemed an eternal effort to become a Buddhist Monk.

I could turn this into quite a long dissertation on every interview in the book, but I would rather not spoil the journey for you. The mere cover charge for the retreat to the Paris of New England is well worth it, and more importantly, instills confidence that the art of poetry is well alive and will strong arm its way through all future waves of inventions aiming to reduce the urge for literary stimulation.



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