Friday, April 29, 2011

Jacques Prévert's poem: La grasse matinée (Over Sleeping) presented by Walter Ruhlmann




Here is Jacques Prévert's poem: La grasse matinée (Over Sleeping) which I translated myself. This poem is probably one of the first poems I had to learn at school which was not a rhyme or something like that, but a genuine "adult" poem. I was ten. Mum would help me learn it by heart. She would say it was a tough poem for children: I guess she meant both its meaning and length.

Prévert is probably - just after Baudelaire - the poet who counts the most and from whom I feel the closest.

Jacques Prévert: (4 February 1900 – 11 April 1977) was a French poet and screenwriter. His poems became and remain very popular in the French-speaking world, particularly in schools. Some of the movies he wrote are extremely well-regarded, with Les Enfants du Paradis considered one of the greatest films of all time.


Over Sleeping

It is terrible
the cracking noise of the boiled egg broken on a tin counter
it is a terrible noise
when it buzzes in the head of a man full of hunger
it is terrible too the man's head
the head of the man full of hunger
when he looks at himself at six in the morning
in the window of the super store
a head colour of dust
yet it is not his head he's looking at
in the window of Potin's store
he cares not of his head the man
he's not thinking about it
he's dreaming
he's imagining another head
the head of a calf for instance
with vinegar sauce
or any other head that you can eat
and he slowly moves his jaws
slowly
and he gnashes his teeth
because everybody's mocking on him
and he can't do anything
and he counts on his fingers one two three
one two three
he hasn't had anything to eat for three days
and he may be saying to himself for three days
it can't go on
it does
three days
three nights
nothing to eat
and behind these windows
the pâté the bottles the cans
dead fish protected by cans
cans protected by windows
windows protected by cops
cops protected by dread
so many barricades for only six sardines...
Further on stands a snack
cream-coffee and fresh croissants
the man staggers
and inside his head
a fog of words
a fog of words
sardines to eat
boiled eggs cream-coffee
coffee topped up with rum
cream-coffee
cream-coffee
crime-coffee splattered with blood!...
A man much considered in his neighbourhood
was murdered in daylight
the murderer the tramp stole from him
two francs
that is to say a topped-up coffee
zero francs seventy
two slices of bread and butter
and twenty-five cents for the waiter's tip.


(Original)
La grasse matinée

Il est terrible
le petit bruit de l'oeuf dur cassé sur un comptoir d'étain
il est terrible ce bruit
quand il remue dans la mémoire de l'homme qui a faim
elle est terrible aussi la tête de l'homme
la tête de l'homme qui a faim
quand il se regarde à six heures du matin
dans la glace du grand magasin
une tête couleur de poussière
ce n'est pas sa tête pourtant qu'il regarde
dans la vitrine de chez Potin
il s'en fout de sa tête l'homme
il n'y pense pas
il songe
il imagine une autre tête
une tête de veau par exemple
avec une sauce de vinaigre
ou une tête de n'importe quoi qui se mange
et il remue doucement la mâchoire
doucement
et il grince des dents doucement
car le monde se paye sa tête
et il ne peut rien contre ce monde
et il compte sur ses doigts un deux trois
un deux trois
cela fait trois jours qu'il n'a pas mangé
et il a beau se répéter depuis trois jours
Ça ne peut pas durer
ça dure
trois jours
trois nuits
sans manger
et derrière ce vitres
ces pâtés ces bouteilles ces conserves
poissons morts protégés par les boîtes
boîtes protégées par les vitres
vitres protégées par les flics
flics protégés par la crainte
que de barricades pour six malheureuses sardines..
Un peu plus loin le bistrot
café-crème et croissants chauds
l'homme titube
et dans l'intérieur de sa tête
un brouillard de mots
un brouillard de mots
sardines à manger
oeuf dur café-crème
café arrosé rhum
café-crème
café-crème
café-crime arrosé sang !...
Un homme très estimé dans son quartier
a été égorgé en plein jour
l'assassin le vagabond lui a volé
deux francs
soit un café arrosé
zéro franc soixante-dix
deux tartines beurrées
et vingt-cinq centimes pour le pourboire du garçon.

Jacques Prévert

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tire Grabbers by John Bennett, reviewed by BL Kennedy





Tire Grabbers
John Bennett

HCOLOM Press
Ellensburg, WA
ISBN: 0-9776783-0-X
383 pgs
$15




The first time Patrick O’Reilley tore up a newspaper, he was two years old and had yet to speak his first words.

I don’t think I can ever stop writing about the brilliance that John Bennett brings to literature, and this is more than true about his fine novel Tire Grabbers. Here is a novel that can give J.R.R. Tolkien a run for his money.

I absolutely love this novel, for John Bennett is an original: a magician who doesn’t merely go on a quest but cuts through its center with precision and a harmony of language. You might say that this is a novel of bruised magic, a book that the reader will not easily put down, and in my opinion. In my opinion, Bennett’s one novel that screams to be made into a movie is Tire Grabbers. I do not know a writer (and trust me, I know a lot of writers), but I do not know a writer, who is as clean and hardworking as John Bennett. Here is a true American original, a man who can take prose or poetry and twist it into a mean, homespun boogie. Here is a writer of illumination and insight. I guarantee this, once you purchase a copy of Tire Grabbers and start reading, it’ll be very hard to put the book down.

Okay, so I said my say here. I am a hardcore of John Bennett’s. In my eyes, the author can do no wrong. So order a copy of Tire Grabbers. It’s a purchase you will not regret.

Order from the Publisher.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Lake Has No Saint by Stacey Waite, reviewed by BL Kennedy




The Lake Has No Saint
Stacey Waite
Tupelo Press
North Adams, MA
ISBN: 978-1-932195-81-1
32 pgs
$10




when learning to be a boy

the neighbor boys look for frogs in the yard. i do not want them to find one. i want them to invent the game in which they are not looking for something to harm. i want them to invent the game in which they are not building villages they will bomb from their plastic planes. they make the bomb noises in unison. they fall down giggling in the grass until their mother names what has been cooking inside.


Let me state that I am a great lover of poetry. Unfortunately, I get very few poetry books to review. I chalk this up to tough economic times and the fact that most poetry books are small press productions with limited printings.

So you can imagine my surprise when I go down to the mailbox and I find a book of poetry. And not only is it a book of poetry but, to my memory, one of the best books I’ve had the opportunity to read in years. Stacy Waite is a unique talent; a poet who does not mince her words, who is lyrical in her narrative, and breathless in her meditations on gender and identity. Here is a writer, a poet, who you are going to want to read. I cannot give Ms. Waite enough praise, for she is an original storyteller who is grounded in philosophical complexities.

So if you go to your local bookstore and you just happen to spot The Lake Has No Saint by Stacy Waite, I would say buy it. Grab it because it is a collection of poetry that you will not regret reading. The Lake Has No Saint is interesting and deeply sorrowful. The effect that this book will have on the reader will last for many, many months.

So what can I say? Buy a copy of this book. ‘Nuff said.

Buy from the Publisher.

.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Dark Matter: A Novel by Peter Straub, reviewed by BL Kennedy







A Dark Matter: A Novel
Peter Straub

Doubleday Books
New York, NY
ISBN: 978-0-385-51638-9
398 pgs
$26.95




The great revelations of my adult life began with the shouts of a lost soul in my neighborhood breakfast joint.

Let me first state the fact that Peter Straub is hands down one of the best masters of horror fiction in America. Straub’s new novel A Dark Matter is a terrifying story of innocent high school students in the mid sixties who stumble into horrors beyond their understanding.

This is a devastatingly good novel, an investigation into the dark ritual which cast a decades-long shadow. A Dark Matter makes you question all you knew about horror. I find Straub’s novel one of the most important in suspense fiction. It contains echoes of all that has been great about Straub’s previous novels and builds upon it. A Dark Matter is part Rashamon and part Turn of the Screw. This novel truly messes with your sense of reality, and then just when you’re getting your bearings; it scrambles them all over again.

I have been reading Peter Straub since my early 30s. You may say his work is hardwired into my brain. From Ghost Story to The Talisman, which he co-wrote with Stephen King, I have never been let down by Mr. Straub’s unique sense of literature, and I highly praise A Dark Matter. I will promise you this: this is not a book to be read when you’re in your house alone on a dark and stormy night. So as you can probably tell, I highly recommend this novel, which is currently only available in a hardcover edition. But if you have the budget, and if you are a fan of great horror fiction, I would suggest that you run out and purchase the book ASAP.

Available on Amazon.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Service of Song by Jim Clark, lyrics by Byron Herbert Reece



For his second CD,Jim has set to music a dozen poems by a masterful but neglected Appalachian poet and writer. During his short, tragic life, “Georgia’s farmer-poet” Byron Herbert Reece published four highly regarded collections of poems and two novels then lapsed into obscurity. Building on the strengths of his CD of poetry and traditional folk music, Buried Land, Jim sought timeless musical settings to bring to life some of Reece’s finest poems. The biographical essay on Byron Herbert Reece is included in the CD.

Reece’s biographer Bettie Sellers recounts that Reece remembered his parents attending song fests where local people “would congregate at the home of someone, preferably a person of good voice who knew a lot of songs, and sing away the Sunday afternoons.” He also remembered his mother’s pure, clear voice singing lullabies, some of which he later learned derived from the Child ballads of England and Scotland. As an adult, though, Reece seemed to prefer Classical music, and he would often speak of the pleasure he took in listening to it on the radio and later on phonograph records he would save his money to purchase. An often repeated detail of Reece’s suicide is that when his body was discovered the phonograph was just finishing playing a rendition of Mozart’s “Piano Sonata in D.” Several of Reece’s own Christmas poems were set to music by Kenneth Walton and published by Boosey and Hawkes during his lifetime, and near the end of his life he worked on the libretto for an opera based on the traditional ballad “Mattie Groves” in collaboration with John Vincent, director of the Department of Music at UCLA, where Reece had once served a stint as Writer in Residence.

Byron Herbert Reece is unquestionably the bard of the North Georgia Mountains, but his scope and his appeal are much wider. Though Reece was a product of and participant in his tiny community of Choestoe, his solitary nature as a writer, exacerbated by his tuberculosis, and his wider experience of the world afforded him a larger and more objective perspective on his community. His poems and novels together comprise a richly detailed narrative of an Appalachian farming community confronting the modern world as seen through the penetrating eyes of an intimate stranger. Would Reece have appreciated these musical settings of his poems? I can’t say. Thankfully I don’t have to fear his judgment, which could sometimes be pointed. I’d like to think maybe he would hear in some of them echoes of the old hymns and ballads he loved as a child. At any rate, I hope they do his life and his art some useful service.

About Jim Clark: Much in demand as a reader of his own work and a workshop leader, Clark nevertheless felt something was missing in his professional life. So, in 1995, he began combining his talents as a singer and musician with his abilities as a writer and an interpreter of his own work, resulting in a unique multi-disciplinary performance of poetry and stories rooted in the Appalachian foothills of his birth and complementary old-time mountain music played on the guitar, banjo, mountain dulcimer, and autoharp. This cross-fertilization of genres culminated in Buried Land, a CD recorded in 2003 featuring original poems and traditional folk music, much of it related to the flooding of his parents’ family farms in Clay County, Tennessee, in the 1940s by the TVA Dale Hollow Dam project. He has since recorded two folk-rock CDs with his band The Near Myths: Wilson (2005) and Words to Burn (2008). His most recent CD is The Service of Song (2010), featuring Clark’s musical settings of poems by north Georgia “farmer-poet” Byron Herbert Reece.

Clark is currently the Elizabeth H. Jordan Professor of Southern Literature and Chair of the Department of English and Modern Language at Barton College, in Wilson, North Carolina, where he is Director of The Barton College Creative Writing Symposium and an editor of the literary journal Crucible.

Here's a video of my favorite song from the CD. In fact, I used the audio in a Gypsy Art Show podcast some time ago.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems Translated by Paul Schmidt, reviewed by BL Kennedy





The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems
Translated by Paul Schmidt

New York Review Books
New York, NY
ISBN: 978-1-59071-191-2
140 pgs
$14.95





Silentium

Nobody knows what silence is.
Silence is words and music.
It’s the thing that links all things alive,
the link that lasts forever.

Let me open my mouth and let nothing come out,
silent as an unborn baby.
Let me be a perfect crystal note
that lasts unchanged forever!

Do nothing, love, don’t ever change
Change only words to music.
And let my heart of hearts grow still as a life I can barely remember.

According to the introduction, in the years before the 1917 Russian revolution, The Stray Dog Cabaret in St. Petersburg was the haunt of poets, artists and musicians; a place to meet, drink, read, brawl, celebrate, and stage performances of all kinds. It has since become a symbol of the extraordinary ferment of that time.

This is a small book of 148 pgs, and yet can hold its own and surpass any number of poetry anthologies that occupy the bookshelves of my apartment. Here we have work from Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstem, Velimer Khlebnikov, Vladamir Mayakovksy, Marina Tesvetaeva, Boris Pasternak, and Sergei Esenin. Shit, I mean, this is the New York Yankees, the Bronx Bombers of Russian poetry!

I simply could not put the book down. Now, do I recommend this book? Well, like I’d like to say, short book, short review. However, in the case of The Stray Dog Cabaret, one can write massive review about every poet listed in this book. I do not have the space or the time to critically write about every major Russian poet in this anthology. However, what I will do is suggest to all you lovers of poetry to get off your ass, do whatever you do to order books. Or as they say in Blazing Saddles “Go do that voodoo that you do so well!” Secure a copy of The Stray Dog Cabaret for your personal poetry library. I guarantee you will not regret the purchase. This is a very important and very readable collection of poets and their writing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Deep Water Horizon by Alan Catlin, reviewed by BL Kennedy



Deep Water Horizon

Alan Catlin
Pygmy Forest Press
Springfield, OR
ISBN: 978-0-944550-82-3
28 pgs
$8.00


The sky is a gray green
nightmare tinted black
as a backdrop for strange
objects; hot metal, bright
as a crescent moon, long
rods disconnected form
rigs, worn gears and human
limbs, disjointed things,
reconfigured as stars.


One of the perks of reviewing books is that people send you books. Sometimes, they’re real cool books of poetry, sometimes books of fiction, and sometimes death threats.

So you can imagine my surprise when I went down to my postbox and found a copy of Deep Water Horizon by Alan Catlin, just waiting for me, calling my name, saying “READ ME! Read me!” which I did.


Now, the other part of reviewing books is it’s always a treat when you find that one collection that goes above and beyond everything you expected, and that is what happened with Deep Water Horizon. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the words of Alan Catlin. This small collection of 21 poems just comes out at you from so many unexpected places. You cannot help but to feel the poems bleed from the page into your psyche. The rhythms, the stylistic lyrical quality of the poems in this book just stand out.

I have to admit that reading the short poems in Deep Water Horizon was like re-imagining a painting by Max Ernst, or totally falling into a painting by Jackson Pollock. That is the level in which these poems stand out, and that is the level at which they touched me.

Will I recommend this book? Well, that’s a fucking stupid question; look at the praise I just gave it! I think you should get off your namby-pamby ass, get on your computer or whatever the hell you do, and buy a copy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Battle Scars by John Bennett, reviewed by BL Kennedy






Battle Scars
John Bennett
Kamini Press
Stockholm, Sweden
ISBN: 978-91-977437-5-4
24 pgs
$9





72nd Birthday

Sitting on
the hill at
sunrise with
my coffee &
cigarettes thinking
fond thoughts
of all those who
hate my guts



It is always an honor to have the opportunity to review a new book by John Bennett. Novelist, poet, and publisher, a rising star on Facebook: that about says it all for John Bennett.

At least that’s what I thought. Because then, from Kamini Press comes Battle Scars, and I had to shut my mouth, because here are some truly beautiful examples of John Bennett’s self invented poetry form ‘the shard’. Each poem is short and to the point. Bennett takes no prisoners. He says his say and then is done with it. “Meeting Women” is a fine example:

“When I was
young &
lonely I’d
sit in
dark movie
theatres &
listen for
women who
laughed when
nobody else did.”

As I said, Bennett is one those poets who knows the secret of getting in and getting back out. He knows the topography of the page. And that, my dear friends, is what makes Mr. John Bennett the remarkable writer that he is. Can I recommend Battle Scars? Of course I can recommend it. I hope that you can find a copy. Try writing the publisher to get at

Ringvagen 8, 4th floor
SE-117 26 Stockholm
Sweden

OR

Order from the publisher.

The copy I am holding is a very limited edition, so don’t waste time. You will not regret the read.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Petting Zoo: A Novel by Jim Carroll, reviewed by BL Kennedy






The Petting Zoo: A Novel
Jim Carroll
Viking Press
New York, NY
ISBN: 978-0-670-02218-2
327 pgs
$25.95





“It’s time your eyes remain shut, Billy Wolfram. Now is the time, so get on with it. Take that single step and fly.”

The late Jim Carroll, diarist, poet, novelist, and musician, leaves one to wonder exactly what his novel The Petting Zoo would have been like had he had the chance to complete his final edit. Don’t get me wrong; I love the works of Jim Carroll, and think Forced Entries was a superior work in his diary period. His various collections of poems including Living at the Movies, The Book of Nods, Fear of Flying, and Void of Course: Poems 1994-1997, have adopted the voice of his generation. They have gone on to become classics for subsequent generations.

This brings us to The Petting Zoo, the late author’s last work. For more than ten years, rumors have persisted that Jim Carroll was working on a major novel that dealt with various stages of his Catholic background. And the fact remains that he actually did do test readings of exerts from the proposed work in progress, which would eventually become The Petting Zoo. Upon reading the introduction by his editor Paul Slovak, we learn that the finish touches on the novel were indeed being done by Carroll just before his death. Afterwards, that work was undertaken by Rosemary Carroll, Jim’s former wife. Then it seems like everybody got their little paws into it, from Cassie Carter, who is the executor of his estate, to Lenny K of the Patti Smith band, who helped to clarify rough spots in the book. Then came some guy named David Garcia, whoever the hell that is.

Anyways, what we end up having is a book by Jim Carroll that was messed with by a lot of other people to the point where even though the reader is treated to Carroll’s natural flow of words and that sardonic urban language which he is so well loved for, there are whole chunks of the book that just fall flat. It doesn’t seem like Carroll at all, and it leaves the reader wondering: what would the Petting Zoo have been like had Jim Carroll didn’t so suddenly die and had the opportunity to finish the book to his own satisfaction? Then again, we can also pose the argument that the book may not have been finished at all. I mean, what we have here is Jim Carroll after ten years of work on a manuscript that should have been a breeze for New York’s wunderkind.

So, here’s the deal. I am highly recommending The Petting Zoo with trepidations, for no other reason than it is Jim Carroll’s last work of art. Should you go out and buy it? Hell yeah. Go out and race to your nearest bookstore and see if you can find a copy, or go to your nearest library, go to Amazon, go to Abe Books, but find yourself a copy. It is truly worth the read, especially if you are a fan of this late but very talented author.

Available on Amazon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What You Wish For by Bill Pieper, reviewed by BL Kennedy




What You Wish For
Bill Pieper

Strategic Book Press
Durham CT
ISBN: 978-1-60911-802-0
422 pgs
$18.95






“Well…don’t be no stranger,” said his brother’s voice, maybe louder than usual, when Miles stepped onto the porch and turned to close the door.

What You Wish For is Bill Pieper’s fifth novel and poises many question. Who does your life belong to, anyways: your family, the government, or God? This is one of those special novels that’ll just seduce you with the mere grace of its writing. Its composition, its narrative, is clear, funny, and ballistic.

When Bill Pieper originally told me he was working on this novel, I have to admit, I felt great joy, because I’m selfish. I liked all of Bill’s previous novels, and I simply didn’t want him to stop writing. So what does he do? He comes up with a book that is part family saga, part love story, and part medical drama and legal dilemma. What You Wish For is a novel that pulls you in so many directions; you simply cannot put it down. I like Pieper. His writing invites you into the family conflicts, and the daily life of that family and all kind folk they encounter, all set against the backdrop of California’s beautiful Marin County.

This beautiful novel of 422 pages is a must have in any library. But then again, I would have said the same thing about all of the author’s previous novels. Hands down is this: Bill Pieper is a writer’s writer. You read his books, and you cannot help but fall into them. His writing is creative and insightful, funny and filled with despair, the result being one helluva good read. So do I recommend What You Wish For? Of course I do. Go onto Amazon, go to your local bookstore, if you live in Sacramento, hunt down Bill Pieper. I’m pretty sure he’s listed in the phonebook. So yeah, buy the book, read it and enjoy, because I guarantee it’ll be one of the best purchases that you have made in a long time.

Available from Amazon.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Whose Cries Are Not Music by Linda Bennighoff, reviewed by BL Kennedy







Whose Cries Are Not Music
Linda Bennighoff

Lummox Press
San Pedro, CA
$15.00
106 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-929878-95-6





Snowy Winter

I remember
the praying silence
of the pots in the kitchen
after I washed them.
In April, when we went jogging
you ordered
mango juice from the new
concession.
“Don’t worry about the future,
I can also take care of you,” you said.
“I feel so frightened when I am alone.”



I didn’t think that I was going to like this book as much as I did, for like everything that comes out of Lummox Press, it’s a crapshoot, and to be honest, the push for me to review this book by both the publisher and the author almost made me not pick it up. My policy is I review books when I feel it’s appropriate and not before, and I think it’s really tacky on both the part of publisher and the author of any collection to pressure a reviewer. Just a warning.

However, to my surprise, I found the work of Linda Bennighoff to be absolutely wonderful. What the author does with the poems I this collection had me captivated. These are intelligent, well thought out and beautifully composed poems. Miss Bennighoff is a graduate, I may add, of Stonybrook University, and the recipient of numerous poetry awards, and has previously published five chapbooks. Oh, and need I mention that she graduated with honors from John Hopkins University, where she was an English major. Other than having some minor complaints about the initial layout of this collection, I find that the book is just tantalizingly beautiful and the poems wonderfully composed. This book is broken down into five distinct sections which approach the subject matters of love, life and loss.

I have to applaud Linda Bennighoff for so delicately having the courage to share these poems with the general public. I think that as I rummaged through this collection, I realized that the poet enabled me to allow the poems to sink with overwhelming grace into my psyche. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to compose this review of Whose Cries are Not Music, and I give deep kudos to the poet who shared with me a wonderful lesson in letting me write it. So, buy a copy of Whose Cries are Not Music as soon as you can. In my humble opinion, this is a very, very important collection of poetry by a very talented poet.

Order from the Publisher.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Steel Valley by Michael Adams, reviewed by BL Kennedy







San Pedro, CA
$15.00
103 pgs
ISBN: 978-1-929878-17-8







I Went Out

I went out to the woods, the wild rolling rock woods
and folded ancient hills of West Virginia

Whistled and wandered, rambled with Thoreau,
scrambled on the crags with Snyder, wrestled with Heidegger
on rainy nights with whiskey and black coffee.

Sought truth with a young man’s single minded
passion, sought god in rock and tee,
cloud and storm, creek and mountain laurel,
woman’s smile and sway of hip.


Yet another publication from Lummox Press is Michael Adams Steel Valley, and I have to say this: I really enjoy Adams’s work. Didn’t think I would, but upon opening up the pages of Steel Valley, I simply fell in love with the man’s work. You can feel it with all your senses. This is a writer who gives it all away and takes no prisoners. I have a soft spot in my heart for Blue Collar literature, and I have a soft spot for fine and focused writing. Michael Adams is an intimate chronicler of his own history. His prose and poetry will simply seduce you. From short pieces like “Wobbly Joe” and “Jimmy’s Song” to intimate prose poems like “Work” and “Head Wars”. I just simply fell in love with this offer. The book itself is some 103 pages. And has a bittersweet feeling in its style, for Smith writes with a wide heart and generous pulse. Should you get this book? Hell yes. I would order it immediately, in fact, sooner. So contact Lummox Press and invest fifteen dollars American, and purchase a copy of Steel Valley.

Buy from the publisher.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rich Ferguson, Spoken Word Artist's new video, HUMAN CONDITION







LA spoken word artist Rich Ferguson is featured in this uplifting music video directed by Mark Wilkinson, and also featuring the music of N.P.B.


Rich Ferguson has performed across the country and has been heard on many radio stations, including WBAI in New York City, KCRW and KPFK in Southern California, and World Radio. He has shared the stage with Patti Smith and Janet Hamill, Exene Cervenka, David Thomas of Pere Ubu, Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons), David Mansfield (Bob Dylan, T-Bone Burnett), Bob Holman, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, The Knitting Factory (NYC & LA), the South by Southwest Music Festival, Stephen Elliott’s “The Rumpus,” the Henry Miller Library, the Miami International Documentary Film Festival, the Topanga Film Festival, the Electric Lodge (Venice, CA), and Beyond Baroque. In addition, he has performed and lectured at El Camino College, UC Irvine, UC-Santa Barbara, Cal State Northridge, the County of Orange Youth Guidance Center Probation Department, and San Pedro High School’s Docs Rock International Documentary Series. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. Ferguson has studied poetry with Allen Ginsberg and fiction writing with Aimee Bender and Sid Stebel. In addition, he has been published in the LA TIMES, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was the recent winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. He is a regular contributor and poetry editor to the online literary journal, The Nervous Breakdown, and his spoken word/music video “All The Times” was screened at the Valley Film Festival in October 2009. And this fall (2011) Ferguson will be published in a collection by Smith Magazine entitled “The Moment.”

Doc Savage: The Lost Radio Scripts of Lester Dent by Will Murray






Doc Savage: The Lost Radio Scripts of Lester Dent
Will Murray

Moonstone Books
Calumet City, IL
$22.95
445 pgs
ISBN: 1-933076-27-5




When fans of Old Time Radio folk drama talk about the lost programs of the pioneering days of radio, they invariably invoke the earliest broadcasts days of radio, they invariably invoke the earliest broadcasts of Frank Readick as The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, Adventures of the Hornet (before he became The Green Hornet) and now classic I love a Mystery serials like “Stairway to the Sun”, some chapters of which do survive. Then there are the pulp-inspired shows that are completely lost. The Spider, Pete Rice, The Phantom Detective, The Avenger and numerous others.

One of the lost pulp shows was the 1934 Don Lee season of Doc Savage. No transcription disks or other recordings of this half-legendary series are known to survive. Cast information has been an impenetrable mystery. It was as if the broadcasts had been beamed into outer space and lost forever—which is exactly what happens with radio waves. They radiate out into space. Possibly beings on far-distant worlds are now puzzling over The Shadow’s wicked laugh or the sound of the hearty voice crying : “Hi-yo Silver! Away”


Long before Superman and Batman, long before agents Mulder and Skully, the concept of the superhero was defined by Lester Dent writing under the pseudonym of Kenneth Robeson. As Robeson, Dent wrote some 82 Doc Savage novels. We’re talking at a time during the Depression when everyone was looking for some type of escapism. That was found in the pulps and in comic books, with such incredible shows as the Adventures of the Hornet (before he became the Green Hornet) and the now classic The Shadow.

So back to Doc Savage. As I have stated, Lester Dent wrote some 82 Doc Savage novels, and Doc Savage remains one of the greatest pulp heroes of the 20th century. Those novels originally appeared in 181 issues of Doc Savage magazine, and the character went on to gather popularity in comics as well as motion pictures.

Dent, 1904-1959, grew up in Missouri, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. He was an only child in the final days of the pioneer west. Dent has been called the father of the modern superhero, and for good reason. Besides being the co creator of the immortal Doc Savage, Dent laid the foundation of generations of superheroes to come. Now we are given a special treat, the lost radio scripts of Lester Dent.

This wonderful volume of some 445 pages contains all of the radio plays, some 29 episodes of Doc Savage, each running for 15 minutes in their original format. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this volume, because not only did I grow up on Doc Savage and other pulp heroes, but the writings of Lester Dent contributed greatly to my own interest in the areas of science fiction, poetry, the supernatural, and drama. I simply love this book, and if you have a chance to locate a copy, I would do so ASAP, because trust me, even at the high price $22.95 of this trade paperback, you simply will not go wrong. This is entertainment in the first order.

Available from Amazon.

Review by BL Kennedy

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