Some poets never peak. Leonard Cohen never did. And unlike those who churned out clunkers late in life—William Wordsworth with Ecclesiastical Sonnets (at 52) or Bob Dylan with Together Through Life (at 68) —Wendy Drexler shows no sign of peaking. Through her latest volume, it’s clear she continues to improve her poetry in metaphoric complexity and thematic scope. Her first book, Drive-in, Gas Stations, the Bright Motels was a kind of poetic memoir of her childhood. It captured the quirkiness of her family through humor and poignancy. Before There Was Before delved into self-reflection, focused on guilt, and used experimental techniques like dramatic hard-hitting endings. An amateur photographer herself, she also began writing about photography, ruminating on its imagery and implications.
A book with a new type of poetry. The poetry of the found list.
By Peter Bates
War. Pestilence. Global warming. Layoffs. Financial ruin. Lawsuits. Bad hookups. There are random forces poised to get you, most of the time when you least expect them. Some of us organize our lives in patterns that create a sort of balance. We forge schedules, we label stuff, we categorize, all to squeeze this mad mad world back in line.
Two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt authorized Executive Order 9066. It adopted a drastic policy toward Japanese-American residents, alien and citizen alike. Virtually all of them were forced to abandon their homes and property and live in camps for most of the war. Continue reading “Did Anyone Oppose Japanese Internment?”
“Barrelin’ down the highway
Wheelin’ right along
Hear the tires hummin’
Hummin’ out a song
The rumble of the diesel
The shiftin’ of the gears
The rhythm when he’s rollin’
Is music to his ears.”
“Cannonball,“ words and music by Merle Haggard
Unlike Mike and Jerry from the TV Series Cannonball (1958), I’ve never driven an eighteen-wheeler down a six-lane highway. But maybe this is what creating a work of art is like. Continue reading “When Creativity Stalls”
IN WHICH I partially figure out how some things worked.
My buddy Chuck was told that his hall monitor services were “no longer needed” because he’d been lax in handing out yellow slips to malefactors. His sudden replacement by Callahan made me wary, so I skulked past him, but he nailed me anyway.
Time for a full confession. I am a gadgetophile. I surround myself with devices – both analog and digital. Gadgets, all of them. But I prefer to call them “life enhancers.” Why? I’ll get to that. Continue reading “Could This Gadget Save Your Ass?”
“When I awoke after being knocked unconscious,” said Walton, “I knew something was wrong. I sneezed and my pants fell down. Soon I was running out of belt holes. I was losing an inch a day! At least! When I shrank to five feet, I knew it was time to become a jockey. I won several races, rapidly rose in the ranks, would have scaled the heights of fame, but all too soon I flunked the minimum height requirement. Continue reading “What Happens When You Shrink”
My encounter with a beautiful woman at the drug store revealed that my attitude had changed toward them.
This isn’t the woman I encountered recently at Walgreens while receiving my third COVID shot. That woman was fuller-figured and had black hair. But she could easily have been her sister or maybe even a top-secret clone.
Our encounter was brief, but memorable.
Both books go directly to the source – the citizens – when writing about cities. Carl Carlsen did not depend upon the local historians, nor did he rely on the preconceived notions of contemporary news hacks. He sought out the guy living in the tenement demolished when a car crashed into it and the Black woman who owned her own hair salon and retired in her early 60s. These people, not the pundits, experienced the drudgeries and triumphs of neighborhood living.
Continue reading “Brickyard Stories 2.0: A Lynn MA Neighborhood Before and After Urban Renewal, edited by Carl Carlsen”