Category Archives: GLBT poetry

“Love is Love: Poetry Anthology: In Aid of Orlando’s Pulse Victims and Survivors” edited by Lily G. Blunt— Beautiful Tributes

love is love

Blunt, Lily G. “Love is Love: Poetry Anthology: In Aid of Orlando’s Pulse Victims and Survivors”, Illustrated by Jay Aheer, CreateSpace, 2016.

Beautiful Tributes

Amos Lassen

As beautiful as this book is, I wish we did not have to see it published and that those to whom it is dedicated were alive to read the poems in it. However, it did not happen that way. We will never forget June 12, 2016 when the most horrendous mass shooting in US history and an unfathomable act of hate was directed at the LGBT community in Orlando, Florida. The horror of this tragedy shook the world and millions were shocked and appalled at the senseless violence that destroyed so many innocent lives. The final count was 49 dead plus the murderer who does not deserved to be counted as one of the dead.

To show solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting, a group of LGBTQ and straight allies, from all over the world, came together to produce a collection of poems in celebration of love and acceptance.

“Love is Love: Poetry Anthology” is a result of that coming together and is dedicated to the families and victims of the shooting and all proceeds of this work will be donated to Equality Florida’s Pulse Victims Fund. The authors, along with the readers who purchase this work, seek to contribute to the lives of those who still suffer from the consequences of evil that was directed toward them. The poets included, along with the rest of the world, offer some positivity and compassion in the face of such bigotry.

The contributing Authors are: AC Benus, Aditus, Andrew Jericho, Ann Anderson, Ash Marie, Asta Idonea, Betti Gefecht, Cam Kennedy, Cynus Eldranai, Darren White, dughlas, Eddy LeFey, Eden Winters, EmiGS Em, F.E. Feeley Jr., Gelybi , Headstall, Jack L. Pyke, Jana Denardo, Jason Frazier, Jay Rookwood, J.L. Merrow, Karina Rye, Kathy Griffith, Kay Ellis, Kaye P. Hallows, Kit Loffstadt, Laura B. Damone, Layla Dorine, Lily G. Blunt, L.J. Harris, L.M. Somerton, Louis Stevens, L.S.K Harris, L.V. Lloyd, Lynn Michaels, Maggie Chatterton, Maria Siopis, Monika De Giorgi, Parker Owens, Patricia Nelson, Pelaam, Petra Howard, Ravyn Bryce, Rick R. Reed, Ruski, Valik and Addy, S.J. Davis, Skylar M. Cates, Star Brady, Steve Baldry, Susan Crane, Tamara Miles, Tash Hatzipetrou, Tim Landon, Tracy Gee, Vicki Tubridy, Victoria Kinnaird, and Wendy Rathbone.

“Chelate” by Jay Besemer— A Journey

chelate

Besemer, Jay. “Chelate”, Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016.

A Journey

Amos Lassen

Jay Besemer’s “Chelate” is a collection of poems that were written during the period that he was undergoing hormone therapy and gender transition. These are written about his journey to a new self. That transition, however is complicated because of a debilitating illness. The poems are powerful as the poet writes of being in a toxic body and what happens when great biological change takes place and how this affects consciousness and language. When one faces a difficult imperative and chooses to fight to live, many changes occur.

We immediately sense the shifts from exile and alienation to hope and anticipation and there are shown to us in short verses that show desire facing reality. What started out in uncertainty and commitment ultimately ends in self-recognition, and more uncertainty. A safe and necessary space where will, love, action, process, and documentation is created and inhabited.

We see that with trans people (like everyone else) are often forced into certain situations for which they are not prepared. Besemer has to create himself as a man. He has divided this collection into five sections— “Xenophila:, “Making & Unmaking”, “Adjustment Disorder”, “My Inheritance” and “Ordinary Wear and Tear” and each of these is a step in his transition as well as in his poetry. Below is a wonderful sample of what you will read here.

“i’m not interested in bombs or babiesor smart ways to interpret other people’s behavior : i’m a little kinescope or maybe a tortoise with long incongruous whiskers : at any rate i find my perspective to be unusual in most discussions : so trust me when i say that sometimes i want to bury myself in a pile of leaves until the wee families depart & the park gates close : sometimes i want to stand in a field of cows & sneeze for an hour : sometimes i want to drive down a deserted road to find the hidden ruin at the end & move in : these things feel reassuring : like bees, you know : how bees can find their homes even when their homes don’t exist : or like a star, following in the rearview : pushing the motor in the heart to click & hum in hope”.

“Radiance” by Emanuel Xavier— Survival is Splendid

radiance

Xavier, Emanuel. “Radiance”, Rebel Satori Press, 2016.

Survival is Splendid

Amos Lassen

I have had this new book of poetry by Emanuel Xavier for almost a month now but I decided to keep if for myself before letting others know about it. It is rare for me to find something so personal that I want to make it just mine but that is exactly what this poetry collection did to me. I have read and reread it almost daily looking for a way to truly express how I feel about this peek into the poet’s life and I have finally reached the point where I am ready to share my thoughts so that others can have the experiences I have had reading it.

“Don’t ask any questions.
I lie and live in the moment. Relax. Forget that this mouth is famous. These hands hold more than pens”

“Radiance” is not only special because of the beauty of the poems but also because Xavier suffered a health scare that made me wonder if we would ever have more poetry from him. Having read everything that he has written. I think it is fair to say that each book is a wake-up call that reminds us to live life to the fullest and to enjoy every moment. The beauty of Xavier’s poetry is its honesty which at times can shock but always leaves the reader feeling good.

“WHEN YOUR DOCTOR CALLS TO TELL YOU THAT YOUR BRAIN TUMOR IS BACK

respond quietly in the car so as not to alarm your boyfriend, your mother, your aunt. 
and he tries to convince you not to worry”.

We go back into the poet’s past to when he was a club kid in New York, learn about his family, about past and present lovers and the challenge of his recent health scare with brain cancer and see how “radiation became radiance” and “survival became splendid”.

“don’t be sad at the thought of not surviving this after everything you’ve already been through.

focus on the people walking by oblivious to

 head bandaged and fragile happy to be alive.

when he hangs up, note the silent anticipation. you could lie and say it was a wrong number. your mother will just continue complaining about her problems from the backseat.

you could change the station and ask everyone where they would like to go eat”.

I am always amazed at the beauty of the poet’s words in that knowing his past and how rough it was comes as quite a surprise. He always finds exactly the correct words to use to cast light on the reality of which he writes. His words are tender and sensitive especially when we realize that his life has not always been such yet somehow he manages to merge the two together. At times we sense he desperation between the poems but we see that as a good quality and not one that depresses but rather uplifts. I feel a sense of quiet and calm as I read and reality becomes quite beautiful. Here is what he has to say about the mendacity of life:

“We don’t always have the time
to truly listen to stories, clip our nails, nap with pets, enjoy our meals.
But it is in these rare moments
that we get a little closer to life”.

I have tried to show you some examples of what we read here but these only break the surface. There is so much to be gained here that you really have to read Xavier yourself and find where he fits into your life— and he will fit into your life.

“The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still on My Lips” by Raymond Luczak— A Unified Vision of Love

the kiss of walt whitman

Luczak, Raymond. “The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still on My Lips”,  Squares and Rebels, 2016.

A Unified Vision of Love

Amos Lassen

In “The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still on My Lips”, Raymond Luczak recounts his unrequited love for a gardener while examining how Walt Whitman (1819-1892) lived as a gay man 150 years before. If you have read Whitman, you are aware of the way his poetry is infused with passion and while it may not come across as the way we see passion today, it provides a jumping off point for Luczak as he writes about how society and social changes have changed in the last century and a half. It is as if Luczak has inherited Whitman’s place poetically speaking and this is my opinion based upon what I read here. We read references here to Oscar Wilde who actually said that he still had the kiss of Whitman still on his lips, as well as Boyd Mcdonald, Gavin Arthur, Edward Carpenter and Thomas Eakins.

The poetry here is quite bold as Luczak presents his unified vision of love by incorporating all aspects of his definition of love including “all of its poetic manifestations: sensual, sexual, and textual, a source of electric vistas and voluptuous possibilities of spiritual renewal”. He also shares that it is not always possible to find the words necessary to express feelings. Luczak finds a sense of communion by maintaining a kind of communication with Whitman and, in effect, “uses” (for lack of a better word”) that communion to speak with his muse and to develop the way he feels about the unrequited love he feels for his gardener. (If I seem to be fumbling for words here, it is because I am…. What Luczak says here is so powerful that I find myself often shaking as I write). I am almost tempted to say that this is a non-poem poem in the way that it captures gay love both historically and in terms of modernity. I am terribly afraid of using the incorrect word to describe what I have read here lest MY interpretation becomes muddled. I find myself feeling as I did the first time I stood in front of a Picasso that reflected everything I ever felt in brushstrokes that I could never achieve.

“What now, Walt, do you think of today’s porn stars?
Their humongous cocks are perpetually stiff… They rarely smile at each other. No joy.”

“Things were simpler for men like us in your time”.

Poetry was also simpler back then when Whitman wrote of nature and instant gratification had not yet replaced love as a way to pass the time. I do not think we can read Luczak openly as we can read Whitman but then we did not have the freedom to love back then as we have today. Each word stuns me here and the best review that I can give is a non-review but an urging to find a copy of this wonderful excursion into gay love and read and savor it. You will not be the same person afterwards.

 

 

 

Publishing Triangle Announces Winners for Best LGBT Books of 2015

Publishing Triangle Announces Winners for Best LGBT Books of 2015

The Publishing Triangle, the association of LGBT publishing, has announced the winners for its 28th Annual Triangle Awards in LGBT Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Debut Fiction as well as (for the first time) Trans and Gender-Variant Literature.

Winners marked by three asterisks below. Those with a black asterisk have been reviewed at reviewsbyamoslassen.com

Finalists for the Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature

*The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson (Graywolf Press)

Debridement, by Corrina Bain (Great Weather for Media)

The Middle Notebookes, by Nathanaël (Nightboat Books)***

*Trans/Portraits: Voices from Transgender Communities, by Jackson Wright Schultz (Dartmouth College Press)

Finalists for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction

Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Arsenal Pulp Press)

*The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, by Lillian Faderman (Simon and Schuster)

Honor Girl, by Maggie Thrash (Candlewick Press)

“No One Helped”: Kitty Genovese, New York City, and the Myth of Urban Apathy, by Marcia M. Gallo (Cornell University Press)***

Finalists for the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction

*Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage, by Barney Frank (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)*** TIE

*A House in St. John’s Wood: In Search of My Parents, by Matthew Spender (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

*It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality, by Michelangelo Signorile (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)*** TIE

*Visions and Revisions: Coming of Age in the Age of AIDS by Dale Peck (Soho Press)

Finalists for the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry

Bodymap, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Mawenzi House/TSAR)

Fanny Says, by Nickole Brown (BOA Editions)

Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life, by Dawn Lundy Martin (Nightboat Books)

No Confession, No Mass, by Jennifer Perrine (University of Nebraska Press)***

Finalists for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry

Boy with Thorn, by Rickey Laurentiis (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Chord, by Rick Barot (Sarabande Books)***

Farther Traveler, by Ronaldo V. Wilson (Counterpath Press)

The Spectral Wilderness, by Oliver Bendorf (Kent State University Press)

Finalists for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction

Blue Talk and Love, by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (Riverdale Avenue Books)

Bright Lines, by Tanwi Nandini Islam (Penguin Books)

*Hotel Living, by Ioannis Pappos (Harper Perennial)

One Hundred Days of Rain, by Carellin Brooks (BookThug)***

Finalists for The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction

*After the Parade, by Lori Ostlund (Scribner)

JD, by Mark Merlis (Terrace Books/University of *Wisconsin Press)

*A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)

*A Poet of the Invisible World, by Michael Golding (Picador)***

*Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

 

“Not Just Another Pretty Face” edited by Louis Flint Ceci— Stories, Poems and Essays

not just another pretty face

Ceci, Louis Flint. “Not Just Another Pretty Face”, (with photography by Dot), Beautiful Dreamer Press, 2016.

Stories, Poems and Essays

Amos Lassen

Several years ago, I met Louis Ceci at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. He was something of a new author having just published his first book, “Comfort Me”, and I was lucky enough to be asked to review it. I still remember what an interesting and well-written read it was. Five or six years passed and I forgot about that book until recently when I received a copy of “Not Just Another Pretty Face” that Ceci has edited. And just be reading his introduction (or “Frontpiece”) as it is called here, I was taken momentarily back to that first book and I was surely glad that Ceci is still writing.

“Not Just Another Pretty Face” is a collection of stories, poems, and essays that have a single common element  that unites them— all of the writing is the result of looking at photographs of go-go boys that were taken by photographer named Dot.  Looking at the table of contents I feel that I am going to reunite with some old friends and make some new ones and the twenty-five entries are evenly divided between authors that I am familiar with— Lewis de Simone, Salome Wilde, Trebor Healy, Rob Rosen, Raymond Luczak, Jim Provenzano, David Platt, Stephen Mead, Jeff Mann, “Nathan Burgoine, Vinton Rafe McCabe, Daniel Allen Cox and Michael Carroll and some that I either I do not remember reading before or whom I have never read before— Richard Michaels, Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess, Gregory L. Norris, Mark Ward, Mike McClelland, Miodrag Kojadinovic, Alan Martinez, Eric Schuckers, Miles Griffs, Jim Metzger, Jonathan Lay and Richard Wilde Lopez.

I often have problems reviewing anthologies and that is because I am torn between reviewing each selection as a separate piece and yet part of a whole or simply reviewing the entire book as a single unit. I am still not sure what I will do here….I am going to let my thoughts direct me. Of this I am sure—the entire book gets five stars not just because of the idea that propelled it but because there are so many good pieces of writing in it. (It would be so easy to stop writing right here and tell you to go out and get a copy but that is not fair).

Twenty-three photos of male go-go dancers are the basis for stories, poems, essays, and drama by twenty-seven authors and we get revealing unexpected mysteries, romance, fantasy, and humor.

Let’s face it—there is something very erotic about a go go boy yet there is also something very sad about him. On one had, he exhibits a sense of cockiness and self assurance as if to say, “I know who I am and I know am hunky and good-looking. All you have to do is adore and worship me for what I represent. On the other hand, if the go go boy is so hot and so good looking, what is he doing hustling for cash in a gay bar. While he represents erotic near-perfection, we sometimes see him as lost or broken and in our fantasies, we can save him while we think he is sexually interested in us. We want to be the focus of his sexual desire even though we know that is probably an impossibility. What we read in these selections show us the go go boy as not only and not always a object to be adored but also as fun, sarcastic, ironic, full of play, ominous and fearful. They are not the paragons that they make us think that they are and they have stories waiting to be told by the authors in this anthology. After all, in imagination, everything is possible. We see that what is projected is not always what is. Just as they project on us, we also project on them. Using the reader as the concept of everyman, these selections look at what we assume, what we feel, what are our fantasies and what can we see about ourselves as we see a go go boy gyrate. We go best the stereotype and the archetype to learn about ourselves as we learn about go go boys. I learned reading Ceci’s first novel that there are philosophies grounded in his writing and he has passed that on to his contributors and we see that each entry has something to say. Each writer responds to a photograph of a go go boy. Because they are near nude when we see them, we understand that go go boys have nothing to hide. This is where the stories pick up— if by any reason whatsoever, we could become part of the dancer’s world, would we find more than what we see on the stage?

The photographs that the entries are based upon take the boy out of the go go and then invite us to explore what we see and I am sure that there are those who know or, at least, can guess what they will find. But that is not what you will find here. Because we have such a wide diversity of writers here, so shall we have a wide diversity of what they find as they explore the guy in the photo. The only thing that were told to do was to follow where the photo tasks them. As a result we are told about things we could not have possibly expected and I found this to be true of writers I had read before. It is the diversity and variety of the stories that keeps us reading and looking for the story that is the most relevant to what the reader is looking for. We got beyond go go bars and go go boys and the entire experience is rewarding.

Eventually I will write about each selection but for now I am only giving an overview—when I am ready to do some more investigations, I want other readers to challenge what I have written.

The 2016 Publishing Triangle Award Finalists Announced

imgLogo

The 2016 Publishing Triangle Award Finalists Announced

(Those marked with an asterisk have been reviewed here at reviewsbyamoslassen.com

The Publishing Triangle, the association of lesbian and gay men in publishing, have announced the finalists for their annual literary awards. Congratulations to all the nominees.

 

Finalists for the Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature

*The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson (Graywolf Press)

Debridement, by Corrina Bain (Great Weather for Media)

The Middle Notebookes, by Nathanaël (Nightboat Books)

*Trans/Portraits: Voices from Transgender Communities, by Jackson Wright Schultz (Dartmouth College Press)

Finalists for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction


Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Arsenal Pulp Press)

*The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, by Lillian Faderman (Simon and Schuster)

Honor Girl, by Maggie Thrash (Candlewick Press)

“No One Helped”: Kitty Genovese, New York City, and the Myth of Urban Apathy, by Marcia M. Gallo (Cornell University Press)

Finalists for the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction

*Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage, by Barney Frank (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

*A House in St. John’s Wood: In Search of My Parents, by Matthew Spender (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

*It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality, by Michelangelo Signorile (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

*Visions and Revisions: Coming of Age in the Age of AIDS by Dale Peck (Soho Press)

Finalists for the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry


Bodymap, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Mawenzi House/TSAR)

Fanny Says, by Nickole Brown (BOA Editions)

Life in a Box Is a Pretty Life, by Dawn Lundy Martin (Nightboat Books)

No Confession, No Mass, by Jennifer Perrine (University of Nebraska Press

Finalists for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry


Boy with Thorn, by Rickey Laurentiis (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Chord, by Rick Barot (Sarabande Books)

Farther Traveler, by Ronaldo V. Wilson (Counterpath Press)

The Spectral Wilderness, by Oliver Bendorf (Kent State University Press)

Finalists for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction


Blue Talk and Love, by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (Riverdale Avenue Books)

Bright Lines, by Tanwi Nandini Islam (Penguin Books)

*Hotel Living, by Ioannis Pappos (Harper Perennial)

One Hundred Days of Rain, by Carellin Brooks (BookThug)

Finalists for The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction


*After the Parade, by Lori Ostlund (Scribner)

*JD, by Mark Merlis (Terrace Books/University of Wisconsin Press)

*A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)

*A Poet of the Invisible World, by Michael Golding (Picador)

*Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

“Walking the Tightrope: Poetry and Prose by LGBTQ Writers from Africa” by Zethu Matebeni, et al.— LGBT in Africa

walking the tightrope

Matebeni, Zethu, Carolyn Parsons and Tsepho-Jamilah Moyo, et al. “Walking the Tightrope: Poetry and Prose by LGBTQ Writers from Africa”, Tinture 2016.

LGBT in Africa

Amos Lassen

With the advent of the Internet, we have indeed become a global community. Here we have the first book ever composed of works by writers from different parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, including first and second generation Africans in the Diaspora. The aim of this anthology, the editors tell us to seek to challenge and engage individuals and institutions that consider homosexuality immoral. In many African countries, homosexuals are subject to corporal punishment, imprisonment, or even death, simply because of their sexual orientation. Making this a bigger problem are slogans and the mindset that “to be homosexual is un-African.” The writers here reject this and all acts of aggression against members of LGBTQ communities in Africa.

Some of the key words you will find in the poetry are desire, confusion, familial isolation, and self-determination. The people that contributed here are proud voices that are not afraid to be heard.The poetry questions the homophobia that is now found all over the African continent and why heterosexism is equated with nationalism. The poets assure us that “they are not a symbol of moral decadence, or a ‘choice’; rather, their sexuality, their gender is natural to their creation”.

“Notes on a Past Life” by David Trinidad— A Memoir in Verse

notes on a past life

Trinidad, David. “Notes on a Past Life” , BlazeVOX, 2016.

A Memoir in Verse

Amos Lassen

“Notes on a Past Life” is David Trinidad’s memoir in verse in which he exorcises the ghosts of New York. He gives “a critique of ambition, an ode to community, and a sip of the poison that poetry is, in the end, the antidote to”. There is a great deal of energy, probably because Trinidad lives a life filled with it. He writes about poets, those that he knows and is friendly with and those that came before him and influenced his writing. He shares his nostalgia with us, be that a love affair or AIDS or any of these topics— the aftermath of love, bad jobs, art, ambition, fame, 9/11, dreams, meals, real estate, ghosts, lyrical gossip, the slights that haunt us, and the hurts we rise above”.

The poems here are a record of a life lived both with good and bad results. It is also a love letter to the city of New York written by an “outsider” who knows about the inside of the city; it is a city made up of

“cutthroat parties, fragile egos, heartbreaking losses, as many endings as beginnings”. He does not write from a distance but from within. He s both romantic and cynical and an outsider who is an insider and vice versa.

“Wait Till I’m Dead: Uncollected Poems” by Allen Ginsberg—103 Poems, Some Never Before Published

 wait till I'm Dead

Ginsberg, Allen. “Wait Till I’m Dead: Uncollected Poems”, Grove Press, 2016.

103 Poems, Some Never Before Published

Amos Lassen

“Rainy night on Union Square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till I’m dead”. —Allen Ginsberg, August 8, 1990, 3:30 a.m.

 “Wait Till I’m Dead” is a collection of 103 poems by Ginsberg and edited by Bill Morgan, a Ginsberg scholar. Some of these have never before published before. Ginsberg wrote incessantly for more than fifty years, often composing poetry on demand, and many of the poems collected in this volume were scribbled in letters or sent off to obscure publications and unjustly forgotten. This collection spans the whole of Ginsberg’s long writing career, from the 1940s to the 1990s and is a testament to Ginsberg’s astonishing writing and singular aesthetics.

The poems here follow the chronology of Ginsberg’s life and we not only get the actual poetry but also Ginsberg’s extensive notes and original photographs. Included as a set of quatrains slamming Ginsberg’s congressman when he was a student, a long ramble on America written during a cross-country flight in 1965, a final conversation with old friend Carl Solomon, and some philosophical or contemplative or observational short poems. If you have ever given up on Ginsberg, the poems here will cause you to reconsider what you think about him and his writing.

These are the latest and possibly the last update to the complete works of Allen Ginsberg that already number at over 1,200 pages. Ginsberg continued to write poetry until his death in 1997. The poems have been taken from such publications as Marrahwannah Quarterly, High Times, Shambhala, Fag Rag, City Lights Journal, and from a live impromptu performance at Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Many of these were pieces done at the spur of the moment like “Cleveland Airport” while others are memories such his last conversation with Carl Solomon as Solomon lie dying in a hospital.

Rachel Zucker who first read Ginsberg in college and wanted more poetry in her education wrote the introduction here. She calls Ginsberg her “gateway drug to poetry”. Because these poems were not included in the complete collection of his work we might wonder if they are worthy of reading or just poems that had been rejected by previous editors. The work here is well worth the read. We see Ginsberg, the artist, in his truest form as well as a visible evolution in the work that covers fifty years of writing.

This is an eclectic collection that conveys Ginsberg’s strong, distinct tone. Some are brief and subtle but powerful with very clear statements. Others are longer and we once again see Ginsberg’s style that reminds us of his greatest works. These poems are like Ginsberg himself— tragic, alluring, and maddening. We get a rare look at the growth of a poet; as a poet struggling to find his own sense of expression and move through his life and careers as his poetic voice matured.