Monday, February 28, 2011

June 10/11/12 Jacumba, CA


Occultation and Other Stories by Laird Barron, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Occultation and Other Stories
Laird Barron

Night Shade Books
San Francisco, CA
245 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-59780-192-8


In the middle of playing a round of “Something Scary”, they got sidetracked and fucked for a while. After they were done fucking, they lighted cigarettes. Then, they started drinking. Again.

I like the work of Laird Barron; I’ve liked his work since reading his first collection of stories entitled The Imago Sequence, and this current book Occultation and Other Stories just continues the flow of this award nominated author.

Laird Barron has emerged as one of the strongest voices in modern horror and dark fantasy fiction. His reputation, I am told, is built on the tradition pioneered by such writers as H.P Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and Thomas Ligotti. Barron’s work has garnered much critical acclaim, and has been reprinted in numerous best anthologies. He has been nominated for multiple awards, including the Crawford International Horror Guild Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, Theodore Sturgeon Award, and the World Fantasy Award. This is his second collection.

Occultation and Other Stories
pits ordinary men and women against the carnivorous and chaotic cosmos. I absolutely delighted in these eight tales of terror, two of which have never been published. This is a spine-tingling, chillingly sublime collection of cosmic horror, and for those who like their writing leaving uneasy in their seats, I highly recommend it, and suggest that you go out and purchase a copy before that upstairs door slams shut all by itself.

Available from Amazon.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, reviewed by BL Kennedy

The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder

Edited by Bill Morgan
Berkley, CA
321 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-58243-444-1

June 7, 1971

Dear Allen,
Lew is supposedly alive—tho not known where—word came thru Sheriff’s office. Keep an eye out in the city. Maybe he’s monstrously drinking,

Let me put this down straight up: I love reading letters almost as much as I love writing them. I think it’s from letters that you get the real insight into most people, and this is very true of both Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. However, I can’t for the life of me understand why we only have selected letters. Maybe it’s because a lot of the letters that Snyder wrote to Ginsberg early on appeared in the collected letters of Allen Ginsberg. But whatever the case, this is a fine and insightful read. Both Snyder and Ginsberg are telling, passionate and honest in their correspondence. What more can a reader ask for?

See I have this theory: we can’t really consider autobiographies, because autobiographies, by their nature, gives the writer permission to just bullshit the reader blind, and in a way, that’s for our benefit. It would too difficult to go through every minute detail, and in many cases, it might be too embarrassing. But the underlying truth is, people love bullshit. The same can almost be said for the biography, which gives the biographer total permission to write a novel out of someone else’s fiction. So, I stick with letters. I find them intimate, telling, and just downright fun to read.

So what do I do? Do I recommend The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder? Of course I do. This is just a fun book, and should be on the shelf of anyone who has an attraction to the supposed Beat Generation. So yeah, buy it. I can quite clearly say that I don’t think you’d go wrong. You’d enjoy the book, and it will be a wise investment of your time and money.

More info on many sites.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

City of Statues- CD Review By Jade Blackmore

City of Statues is a 14-song CD by the Virginia folk-rock group of the same name. Richmond area poet/musician Randolph Walker and his talented band combine grassroots folk with laid back 1960s pop-rock influences (think of Crosby, Stills, Nash and the Mamas and the Papas) for a pleasant collection of original songs and two “evergreens.” The country-tinged What Are You Waiting For? , a song about breaking free from a daily rut, has lilting, clear as a bell vocals from singer Lisa Angell. Walker provides background vocals. If I Can Ease Your Mine begins with upbeat harmonica intro and rolls on with a positive country-folk message, more harmonica and pretty harmony vocals. When I’m Without You, co-written by Walker and Angell, has simple but funky-guitar interludes that interact playfully with Angell’s bluesy vocals. Man of a Thousand Faces is a melancholy, introspective tale, sung by Walker, about the emotional “masks” a man wears in everyday life. Angell once again handles vocals on a lovely version of House of the Rising Sun. The CD ends with a reading of one of Walker’s poems “Love in the City of Statues.” If you like pop-folk music that’s interspersed with vocal harmonies, City of Statues is definitely worth a listen.

The CD is available from CD Baby.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Roy G. Biv in the Mystical House of K

This a tribute video to love, rainbows, prisms and Donovan.

Photography and words by Keith Thompson and Belinda Subraman. Excerpts from Wear Your Love Like Heaven and Colors by Donovan included. A Vergin' Production.

Roy G. Biv = Red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, violet.

the heart is central
and the brain above.
One does not live
without the other
so the brain is not
truly above.
But the heart is central.
The heart is Central.

See more of Belinda's collaborations at You Tube.

Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah: A New Biography, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah
A New Biography

Tim Footman
Chrome Dreams Publications
New Malden, Surrey, UK
272 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-84240-472-0

As the back cover of this book says, Leonard Cohen is a man of many hats, currently in his mid 70s, and is the consummate songwriter, novelist, poet and performer. I think I would be hard pressed to find anybody who disagrees.

Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah. A New Biography is a fascinating read, and I highly recommend this biography, although, I can’t readily remember a previous biography on Leonard Cohen. Oh, there have been VHS tapes and DVDs, and movies, full blown movies, but for the life of me, I cannot recall a previous book-length biography of the poet. So it comes as a treat to me to review; it’s a truly insightful and remarkable biography.

Biographer Tim Footman has truly done a bangup job, complete with full color pictures of the 2008-2009 world tour. Included in the book is a complete discography, and a complete bibliography of all of Cohen’s written works to date. As Leonard Cohen stated early on, “I don’t have much of a sense of my own work. I don’t have much of a memory. And I am not at all given to reflection and nostalgia”. This is an authoratitive and wryly amusing book which tells the whole Cohen story, from his birth in 1934 to the 2009 concert tour. I can easily see where this book will become the standard work on the poet and his contribution to music and literature.

There are some considerable scenes in the book that are just downright hilarious. I mean, lets face it, if anything, Leonard Cohen is a master of dry but hilarious comedy. He is an explorer of his inner being, having spent five years in a Buddhist monastery in the mid 90’s, where he meditated for up to twelve hours a day. But then again, that’s just another story, isn’t it? This is exactly my point: this book is filled with enthralling stories, exclusive interviews and hardcore research.

So do I recommend this new biography? Of course I do. After all, I been a Leonard Cohen fan since before he started recording. And like I said earlier in this review, I’d be hard pressed to find an earlier biography.

Available at Amazon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

One of Kind by Jack Micheline, reviewed by BL Kennedy

One of Kind
Jack Micheline

Ugly Duckling Presse
Brooklyn, NY
155 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-933254-41-8


I’m on the road
I’m on the stone

that’s all loves me
is dogs and little children

I’m on the road
I’m on the stone

that’s know me
Is dogs and little children

This, to my knowledge, is the last collection of Jack Micheline’s poetry, and a fine collection it is. It is some 155 pages of prose, poetry, and artwork by hands down one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. I will dearly miss Jack Micheline and his fine, fine work.

I don’t know how you’ll find a copy of this collection short of writing the publisher. But if you have the chance to, I would purchase it immediately. Then again, I would say that about anything that you can find by the poet Micheline, for he is truly one of the best writers of the supposed Beat Generation, and I miss him dearly.

In this collection, we have some very rare last words by a poet and artist that simply tipped the iceberg, who didn’t pull his punches, and was one of the most truly outspoken and remarkable writers of the last century. There’s not much to say here that I haven’t already said about Jack Micheline in past reviews, but you reader’s wouldn’t know that, because you haven’t seen all those past reviews, which were published in various small literary journals. But I will say this: to encounter the writings of Jack Micheline IN ANY edition is in and of itself a treat.

So do I recommend One of a Kind? Hands down, a very big and heartfelt YES! I personally guarantee that you will love this collection if you have a heart. I highly recommend you purchase it.

Check the press site for more info.

Entrails, Edited by Gene Bloom, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Edited by Gene Bloom

Brooklyn, New York, NY
100 pgs


by D.R Wagner

yr cunt frowns
when I go down
to see it.
but it sure likes
my tricky old tongue
frown and all.

I dunno how you can possibly locate a copy of this book; maybe you can write a letter to Gene Bloom requesting it. You can probably reach Mr. Bloom by contacting the poet at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814.

This is really a fascinating reprint of what Bloom called ‘the magazine of happy obscenity.’ The original Entrails, of which there was only four issues, are incredibly hard to find. And I’ve seen copies priced at one hundred fifty dollars and up. The reprint that I am reviewing is of Entrails #1, and is beautifully reprinted to replicate the original publication.

So, what can I say except that this collection has more people in it that you can bend a noodle at. I mean, we’re talking Charles Bukowski, D.R. Wagner, Tuli Kupferberg, Clarence Major, Douglas Blazek, and d.a. levy. And we must not forget the man himself, Gene Bloom.

See, ya write Bloom. Send him some money, ask him if you can get a copy of this reprint. You won’t regret it. This is a fine collection and a beautiful reprint of a classic underground literary journal.

ADONIS Presented by Mounir Al Chami

The poet ADONIS is Syrian but of global vision. His poetry is full of symbolic images. He is Rebellious against the stereotypical hymning of poetry. He is a bridge between the ancient East and the renewed West. He has a different vision of god, religion, existentialism.

And this is a poem for him.

The Sign

I mixed between the fire and the snow
I will keep vagueness familiar
I live in the flowers and the stones
I vanish
I seek
I see
I undulate

Like the light between the magic and the real,
I picked and liked this poem because he combined the opposites to make something new in the higher levels of thinking.

Famous in the Arab world but much less well-known in the west, Adonis, the Syrian poet’s nom du plume, has once again been bandied about the news of late, for two main reasons. The first is because it is Nobel Prize time, and for years Adonis, or rather Ali Ahmad Said Esber has been cited as a good bet for the coveted prize’s nomination. The second reason is because Adonis is releasing a new book of collected poems this month with Yale University Press, translated by Khaled Mattawa of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Adonis is a controversial figure in Islamic countries due to his staunch secularism, and perhaps even more so because of his revolutionary use of the Arabic language in his poems. He has valiantly tried to liberate Arabic verse from its traditional subject matters and form, attracting great criticism of his work in the Arabic speaking world. As Adonis himself says with a wink, “The textbooks in Syria all say that I have ruined poetry.”

Adonis left Lebanon in the 1960s for political reasons. He resided in Syria until the 80s, when he took up residence in Paris, where he lives now. He is a French citizen and speaks fluent French. On Monday, October 25th Adonis will be reading from his new book of selected poems at the 92nd Street ‘Y.’

I am Mounir Al Chami from Syria, a photographer and poet. I appreciate all art Media. I have a diplomatic character and I wish to be a bridge between the East and the West.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CAPTURED: The Barney and Betty Hill UFO experience, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Captured!: The Barney and Betty Hill UFO experience

Stanton T. Friedman, MSc., and Kathleen Marden
New Page Books
Franklin Lakes, NJ
319 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-56414-971-8

So here’s where I get to step outside the box, because Captured! is not a review of a book of poetry, a novel, a collection of interviews, or a literary criticism. It is a book on one of my favorite subjects: alien abduction and UFOs.

It is the story of Barney and Betty Hill and their supposed abduction by nonhumans. This all happened in 1961 and stirred worldwide interest because of a book called The Interrupted Journey by John Fuller, the subsequent media coverage, and a 1975 TV movie. Yeah, you might say the Hills’ case is well documented. Everybody from the most ardent skeptic to the most hardcore UFO fanatic has put in their two cents on the case. But, at last, we finally have what might be the real insider’s book on this particular case. Authored by Stanton T. Freidman and Betty Hill’s niece Kathleen Marden, Captured! makes use of previously unpublished information about the lives of the Hills before and after Barney’s death in 1969, their status as celebrities, and Betty Hill's experiences as a UFO investigator.

This is the first and best book on the Betty and Barney Hill UFO experience, and I ate up every word. I love Captured and highly recommend it to any reader who has even an inkling of interest on the subject of UFO’s and alien abductions.

I couldn’t put this book down. So if you haven’t to find it in your local bookstore, online, at your local CIA cannabis shop, BUY THIS BOOK! You will love it, unless you’re a weirdo who doesn’t like UFOs, in which I would tell you to get a life and go to Roswell.

William Carlos Williams presented by Jeniffer Stapher-Thomas

Jeniffer Stapher-Thomas
Painting: "Waiting for Day Break"
Medium: Acrylics on Canvas

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

-- William Carlos Williams

I love the simplicity and brevity of this poem.

The meter is slowly paced, allowing the visual impact to open my mind’s eye. I can see the picture in my heart. But the poem goes so much further than painting a simple vignette.

What is so important about the red wheel barrow, what depends on it? Hauling fertilizer, digging new planting beds, hauling animal feed? To me the poem is about the physical work a farmer or gardener must expend to produce food. The rain glazing the wheel barrow is the heavenly necessity required to grow the crops upon which we depend on for our very lives. This poem, to me gets to the heart of the matter: the union of nature and mankind.

William Carlos Williams ( 1883-1963)
Williams was not only involved in literature full time, he was a career pediatrician and general practitioner. He was a prolific writer and was involved in many literary and artistic movements, most notably to me, the imagist movement.He befriended many artists such as Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp.

The Pulitzer Prize was posthumously awarded Williams in 1963. He was awarded the Gold Medal for Poetry of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1962.
William Carlos Williams is still honored by The Poetry Society of America as they present an annual award in his name.

Jeniffer Stapher-Thomas (1960)
Stapher-Thomas is not only a disciplined painter, but is also a middle school art teacher.
She began painting in her signature style during her art training at the University of Texas, thirty plus years ago. Her medium involves painting numerous thin layers of acrylic paint upon unprimed canvas.
Her subject matter spans from the mystical, to landscapes to animals. All of which Stapher-Thomas thoughtfully assembles ideas from Aesop’s Fables, the universal symbolism attributed to animals, the Bible, and her own journey through life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ragged Lion: A Tribute to Jack Micheline Edited by John Bennett, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Ragged Lion: A Tribute to Jack Micheline
Edited by John Bennett
Vagabond Press
Ellensburg, WA
210 pgs
ISBN: 978-0-912-824390


Genius is a ragged lion
holding sunlight in his hands
Friend of outlaw, rare grotesque
Alone he flies with eyes of eagles
Torn and spits upon by cowards
he walks with angels and despair
Genius, poet, ragged lion
holding sunlight in his hands

To quote my buddy the legendary John Bennett, “Jack Micheline was more than just a poet and an artist; he was Whitman’s wild child.” This book Ragged Lion, in my opinion is a loving tribute to a great artist, poet, and writer.

But Jack Micheline, if anything, was a true outlaw of the lowest planet. Here are memoirs, poems, recollections, interviews, artwork, and photographs by some sixty writers and poets who give tribute to one of their own. This is a lovingly crafted book edited by John Bennett that I cannot say enough good things about.

If you have not had the opportunity to be exposed to the writing and artwork of Jack Micheline, then I wouldn’t even hesitate, I would get off my ass and purchase a copy of this book ASAP. Just write John Bennett a letter. Tell him you’ve never been exposed to Jack Micheline and you want to purchase a copy of this book because B.L if you didn’t he’d kick your ass in.

Jack Micheline was boisterous, gregarious, unstoppable, and sweet. He was a man that anybody who writes poetry or dabbles in artwork would find filled with energy, edgy optimism, and endless gratitude. Jack Micheline was the real deal. Buy this book.

Mgversion 2 Datura Call for Submissions

I am planning a new issue of mgversion2>datura (the 68th) scheduled for July/August 2011 and it will be centred on the literature of the Indian ocean where I live now.
I intend to span as many continents and as many genres as possible and to add up to the contacts I have already made here in the French speaking area, I would like to call for submissions from poets, storytellers, playwrights, artists... from all the countries bordered by the ocean: India, the eastern coast of Africa, the western coast of Australia (Perth) and the islands of course.

I have no other prerogatives than receiving texts and artwork by writers and artists from this region of the globe by mid June 2011.
As far as they believe their works can fit in, I might take it. If I don't think it does fit in, I won't. It is as simple as that.

All submissions must be sent at this address More information on the blog

Thank you

Walter Ruhlmann

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Art of Jeniffer Stapher-Thomas

1.) Hand of Fate
2.) Adam and Eve
3.) Tribute to Aesop

Jennifer Stapher-Thomas was born in El Paso, Texas to an Army family and was privileged to travel the USA, Asia and Europe. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelors of Science of Education and a minor in Art. She has taught for twenty years and has been painting for over thirty.

Stapher-Thomas’ stylistic influences range from Asian art to tattoos and psychedelia.
Jeniffer’s imagery finds its genesis in symbolism found in nature, Aesop’s Fables and the Bible. She translates her personal life experiences into these works which hold timely meaning for her life’s journey. She was stricken with breast cancer in 2008 and found great solace in the daily ritual of painting images of hope and happiness.

She has donated her work to many causes, including the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
She was honored with a one woman show at the International Museum of Art in May, 2010.

Awards and Honors:
2010: Arts International Jurors’ Award for “The Hand of Fate”
2010: El Paso Scene Cover for “Tribute to Aesop”
2010: Cover Artist for the El Paso Scene

Purchases available through:
Jennifer's website.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Leonard Cohen
Book of Longing

New York, NY
229 pgs
ISBN: 978-0-06-112558-4


I cheat when I make love
She thinks I’m great
She shows me stuff
that you’d only show
to a cheater

Okay, what can one possibly write about Leonard Cohen that hasn’t been written or hasn’t been said?

This is simply a fine collection of the poet/ songwriter’s artwork and poetry and selected lyrics. I simply love this collection, which I understand has recently appeared in a more affordable trade paper edition. Cohen, who is internationally celebrated for his writing and music, is simple one of those legendary and daring artists of our time. The Book of Longing simply proves that as a fact. Here is a fine collection from a master poet that you simply will not be able to put down. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this is the poet’s best collection since the release of the 1993 Stranger Music.

So if you’re a fan of Leonard Cohen’s (and for the life of me I don’t know who wouldn’t be), I strongly recommend you go out immediately and purchase a copy of this book for your own personal library. If its not for your own personal library, then give it as a gift to some unenlightened friend.

Visit the publisher's website.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Caught in Clouds by Jeanine Stevens, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Caught in Clouds
Jeanine Stevens
Finishing Line Press
Georgetown, KY
25 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-59924-668-0

Self Portrait

I warn of misused privilege, careless
prune to penetrate and wither roots,
noxious banks that taste of salty win

I first encountered the work of Jeanine Stevens when she was performing with a little known quartet that called themselves The Celtic Women. Stevens, who was raised in Indiana and now resides in Sacramento, California, has graduate degrees in anthropology and education, and is currently taking courses (for the life of me, I don’t know why) at the UC Davis Creative Writing program. For many years, Stevens has been an instructor at American River College and Consumnes River College (women’s study, psychology, anthropology). She has won a small amount of poetry awards from the Stockton Arts Commission, the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference, and the Bay Areas Poets Coalition. Her work has appeared in Brevities, Rattlesnake Review, Tiger’s Eye Journal, Poetry Now, Edge, and Pearl. This is her first chapbook from the Rattlesnake Press.

I like Jeanine Stevens. She’s a competent writer, and sincere in her work. I do not particularly care for the layout of this little chapbook, but as far as chapbooks go, it simply is what it is. Do I recommend you buy it? At its hefty price of twelve dollars, I would have to think twice, and I like the poet. So yeah, if you are one of those lovers of poetry who must have everything, go out and buy it. If you’re selective about what titles you have in your personal library…well, baby, it’s your call.

For info on ordering check this site.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Beats: A Graphic History, reviewed by BL Kennedy

The Beats: A Graphic History
Harvey Pekar, Nancy J Peter, Penelope Rosemont, Joyce Brabner, Trina Robbins, and Tuli Kupferberg
Edited by Jay Buhle
Art by Ed Piskor, Jay Kinney, Nick Thorkelson, Summer McClintock, Peter Kuper, Marey Fleener, Jerome Neukirch, Anne Timmons, Gary Dumm, Lance Tooks, and Jeffery Lewis
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
New York, NY
199 pgs
ISBN: 978-0-8090-9496-7

To quote the late Gregory Corso from the documentary What Happened to Kerouac?, “three people make a generation not.” Here we have yet another book on the supposed Beat Generation, which, to my surprise, includes eight people that I would not even consider Beat. We are talking poets such as Robert Duncan, Kenneth Rexroth, Charles Olson, Tuli Kupferberg, d.a. levy, Jay DeFeo, Philip Lamantia, Kenneth Patchen, Anne Waldman, and the list just goes on, because, after all, who can define ‘what is Beat?’. Jack Kerouac said it was a spiritual thing as in the word ‘beatitude’, Herbert Hunke said it was from being beat down in the world, San Francisco news columnist Herb Caen came up with the term ‘beatnik’ to thumb his nose at this group and as a play on Sputnik. But the point is nobody knows for sure what ‘Beat’ means.

If you look at the dust jacket of the book The Beats: A Graphic History, you will find there are more people involved in putting together this book than there are members of the original supposed Beat Generation. To quote the late Allen Ginsberg, “Beat Generation, San Francisco Renaissance, call it what you want, I got laid a lot.” And so you see that nobody has any clear definition of what is meant by ‘the Beats’.

I love this little book, not because it’s about a subject I know much about, but because of the artwork by such talents as Ed Piskor, Jay Kinney, Nick Thorkleson, Summer McClinton, Peter Kuper, Marey Fleener, Jerome Neukirch, Anne Timmons, Gary Dumm, Lance Tooks, and Jeffery Lewis. The Beats: A Graphic History is one of those books that are alive with madness, alive with life and artwork as vibrant as the movement itself. I can’t put into words what a charming volume this is. Its complexity is grounded in the narrative of the most recorded literary explosion of the 20th century. Here we have the antics of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs, along with a cast of many. Of course, there are just as many missing; for example, the late Bob Kaufman, or the former poet laureate of San Francisco, Jack Hirschman. I should not be so callous as to say there is no mention of Jan Kerouac or the late Jack Micheline.

However, this fine volume is a stunning example of American literature and its last exaggeration. In this volume, we go from Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” to Kerouac’s “On the Road”: and in between we have arguments for “what is Beat”, including Norman Mailer’s famous 1957 essay “The Beats Ultimate ‘Meaning’.

So do I recommend The Beats: A Graphic History? I’d be a fool not to, for this is a fine and entertaining volume. So if you have the 22 bucks to spare, my recommendation is to purchase a copy of this book.

For more info check the publisher's site.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Abyss of the Moon by R.H Peat, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Abyss of the Moon

R.H Peat
Xlibris Corportion
ISBN: 978-1-4535-2929-4

Her Fields at Night

If he were the dark sky tonight
the shadows of his open heart
would lay across the earth.

R.H. Peat is a poet who lives in Northern California. He has been writing since 1961, published in the United States, New Zealand, India, and Japan.

Okay. That is all you need to know about the poet who I first encountered when he went by the name Ron Peat. Where this R.H. stuff comes from, I have no idea; I have no fucking idea what it is with contemporary poets wanting to use initials. It seems to be the latest trend.

The Abyss of the Moon is billed as being a voyage through the timeless oceans of age. Isn’t that what all poets write about, getting old and dying? Oh, I’m sorry, there’s the young arrogant school of poets who have yet to understand that we grow old and die. In between, we have the meshugga journey, this voyage that some of us will see as heroic, and some of us as daring. It’ll be a journey of intimacy, compassion, and shared lunacy.

This is what is cool Ron Peat, or R.H. Peat. His poems are truthful. He doesn’t pull his punches, he just says what he says and it comes from the heart. Like when you walk outside and it’s a perfectly beautiful day, and then your hat gets blown off by a gust of wind. This is Ron Peat, a poet who does not fear in talking of love gained and love lost, who does not fear in writing about starting over, because it’s all about that becoming of reality

Do I recommend The Abyss of the Moon? Of course I do. I happen to like R.H. Peat’s work. I think the poet has some vision. I think he has some clarity of voice and does not mince his words. So, although I feel the poems enclosed in this 90 pg collection are far from perfect, I will say this: they do not leave a blemish on the page. I cannot say that for a lot of the poetry I encounter, for Ron Peat’s work is continually growing, and each poem reflects that growth, and blossoms with his wealth of language.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Haunt Me in the Morning by Jim Wittenberg, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Haunt Me in the Morning
Jim Wittenberg
Graffiti Kolkata
Subhankar Das, India
32 pgs

The Poet

It’s not me I’m writing
I’m writing about someone else
someone I don’t know

Jim Wittenberg is a poet: that I will declare hands down. Now, you have probably never heard of him, for his books are hard to come by, and generally only available in small press runs. But if you have a chance to encounter any of his books, I would say purchase them. This is very true of Haunt Me in the Morning, which is the latest collection from this fine Sacramento poet.

Complaints? Oh, yes, my friend, there are always complaints, or as the late Jim Morrison said “no one here gets out alive.” And Jim Wittenberg is no exception to that rule. I have long detested collections of poetry that will place two short poems on a single page, and this is the problem with Haunt Me in the Morning. Each page has two complete poems on it. Whatever happened to the days when a poem would embrace a single page regardless whether that poem were two lines or twenty lines? It is bothersome. It is a distraction to the reader of the poems. And it feels forced when the poet places two complete poems on the same page. It is very irritating. However, I will admit that the poems show talent and integrity.

So, if you encounter Jim Wittenberg at one of the local readings here in Sacramento, or if you search for his work online, I would highly recommend the read. He’s a fine man and a talented poet.

More info here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, reviewed by BL Kennedy

Heart Shaped Box
Joe Hill
Harper Collins
New York, NY
374 pgs
ISBN: 978-0-0a6-114793-0

Jude had a private collection.

He had framed sketches of the Seven Dwarves on the wall of his studio, in between his
platinum records. John Wayne Gacy had drawn them while he was in jail and sent them
to him. Gacy liked golden-age Disney almost as much as he liked molesting little kids;
almost as much as he liked Jude’s albums.

I first encountered the writing of Joe Hill through a short story collection titled Twentieth Century Ghosts. It was his first book. I had no idea who Joe Hill was, and I had never heard of the author before purchasing that collection. There were, however, rumors: that he was the son of Stephen King and that he was at work on a novel. That is all I knew.

So, you can imagine my surprise and delight upon purchasing a copy of Heart Shaped
Box, for this is simply one of the best debut horror novels since Clive Barker’s
Damnation Game some twenty years ago.

I started reading Heart Shaped Box late one evening and just couldn’t put it down, for
here was a novel of redemption and strangeness that was rich with moments of pure
terror. The book simply hooked me with its first sentence. Here we have the story of
Judas Coyme, a collector of weird and macabre artifacts. And we are talking everything
from a cookbook for cannibals to a used hangman’s noose and a snuff film. So, Jude
really can’t help but to reach into his wallet when one day, upon the internet, he sees an

“I will ‘sell’ my grandfather’s ghost to the highest bidder…for a thousand dollars”.

Well, take it from there, kiddo. Jude shells out a thousand bucks and becomes the proud
owner of a dead man’s suit said to be haunted by a restless spirit, which arrives at his door via UPS packed in a heart shaped box.

The rest of this novel takes off from there and I challenge any reader to try to put it down. This is just a great debut novel from a very talented young author. So if you have the chance to get a copy of Heart Shaped Box, grab it, because as the tagline says, “sooner or later, the dead catch up.”

Love & Other Eternities.

Order HERE.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Art of Ae Reiff

These ceramic sculptures began as sheets of clay thrown into and over forms. They often became animals, horse, coyote, bear, tortoise, hence the title Animal Wilderness. However human figures and torsos emerged also, like Balzac, Chuang Tzu. As mythical animals, people and plants these incorporate myths as a means also to display landscapes, hence Tree, Footprints and others in process, Zodiac. Both vessels and sculptures consist of various reduction fired laminated clays.

Such themes also preoccupy his writing, mythogemas about Orc, Ooks, Pismith, Guapa Pop, Invisible Giants, the Wonk Yap, talking mules and their Mewingmuling Songs. All these writings are online and indexed at the site Encouragements for Planting along with philosophical essays about literature and the natural world, and also investigations of the art and thought of eighteenth century Pennsylvania.

Visit Ae Reiff's web site for more art,writing and info.

Ted Joans presented by Kevin Lescroart

The Truth

If you should see
a man
walking down a crowded street
talking aloud
to himself
don't run
in the opposite direction
but run towards him
for he is a POET!
you have NOTHING to fear
from a poet
but the truth.

(Released in various forms at various times. This is from Double Trouble. Editions Blue. Paris, 1992).

Theodore "Ted" Joans (July 4, 1928 - April 25, 2003) was an American trumpeter, jazz poet and painter.

Joans was born in Cairo, Illinois, but not on a riverboat as had been claimed. He earned a degree in fine arts from Indiana University. He later associated with writers of the Beat Generation in Greenwich Village and San Francisco. He was a contemporary and friend of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. In the 1960s, Joans had a house in Timbuktu. He claimed to be a brother of Leroi Jones, despite the spelling difference, but this appears to be apocryphal.

Joans' painting Bird Lives hangs in the De Young Museum in San Francisco. He was also the originator of the "Bird Lives" legend and graffiti in New York City after the death of Charlie Parker in March 1955. Joans invented the technique of outagraphy, in which the subject of a photograph is cut out of the image.

Joans died in Vancouver, British Columbia due to complications of diabetes.
Ted's 4th of July birthday parties were legendary. He was a Surrealist painter as well as a poet. I met Ted a few times at Jim Haynes' soirees en Paree. Jim published a few of Ted's books. He was always surrounded by people and always working on a new poem. His work was a blend of Euro, African and American influenced poetry.

Just an inscription on one of his books to my late father, John E Lescroart: "To John, Lover of Life/ Avec Amities/ Ted Joans/ first book/ sold upon/ my return from the big Apple, 29 V 94 Chez Handshake"

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