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Poetry Book Reviews/ Random Poems

Book Review ~ Beautiful Rush by Marc Vincenz

Beautiful Rush by Marc Vincenz

Unlikely Books ~ 2014 ~ 88 pages ~ Poetry

Marc Vincenz brings us his sixth collection of poems with Beautiful Rush, an elegiac, poignant and sparkling collection of twenty seven lyrical poems that seduces, tantalizes, mystifies, testifies, and transmogrifies. Symmetrically balanced and impeccably arranged, this subtly complex book is organized into three nearly equal sections: A Bitter Taste Of Midnight, Voices Breaking, and How To Die Of Beauty; with two of my favorite poems, Not the Last Word and Cassandra’s Smoke serving as a prelude to the first section. Kimberly L. Becker provides the Foreword and j/j hastain, the Afterword. Exquisitely restrained cover and interior art (Moth) is rendered by Inga Maria Brynjarsdottir.

The sections are linked by a titular series of six poems, Beautiful Rush (I-VI) that appear in each section. The mysterious muse, Cassandra, also unifies the collection with appearances at the beginning, the end and at various places throughout the book. Repeated references to a lost daughter leave me wondering and aching with a vaguely definable and tender sadness.

Marc Vincenz invokes the spirits of other poets, philosophers and places through various poems in the collection; August Kleinzahler and William Burroughs in Small Change, Emily Dickinson in Cassandra Knows How To Die Of Beauty, Joseph Campbell in A Bitter Taste Of Midnight; and dedications to Katia Kapovich and the city of Zug, Switzerland in Rembrandt’s Last Fruit and Almost Tax Free, respectively.

The poems in Beautiful Rush are part celebration, part excavation; ode to beauty and contemplation of the temporal through the inexorable passage of time. They are spiritual litanies and totems of rag and bone, evocative of the shaman’s rattle and drum. “Ancient bone music/ skin songs/ and marrowed incantations.”

The poems in Beautiful Rush are sometimes not of this world and at others very much of the earth; with sensory language that sets the imagination soaring ~

(from) A Bitter Taste Of Midnight

The resonance of reality.

                        The rapture of being alive.

                                    The meaning of a flea.

                                                A moth without a light bulb.

                                                            An aphid without a rose.

                                    What can’t be known.

 (from) To Watch A Flower Bloom

To watch a flower bloom

or a cloud fatten may nearly impossible

but how do you distinguish movement away

from or toward the growth of billowing form

and, at other times, leaves your toes rooted firmly in the ground.

(from) Cassandra’s Smoke

            in a park,

                        where old fools battle

                                    crickets and compare,

                                    bird feathers

where dogs shit and rut,

            where artists seek the ears

of trees and pansies

            and crumbling brick –

(from) An Abundance Of Islands

–a language called stillness, a child

called language. Grandfather’s war scars.

Mother’s tuberculosis—coughing at the edge

 

of the bed, a jackknife, stray sock, a cup

of ice cold tea. Lemon rind. And she, paper,

the ancient carbon backbone crumpled.

This may sound naïve, but, until recently, I never truly appreciated, or really tried that hard to understand the various ways poets experiment with formatting their poems as they appear on the page. I thought it didn’t matter that much. If the poems were meant to be read aloud anyway, then the visual effect of the formatting seemed to be a moot point. However, lately, my thinking has really changed. I think my attitude toward this has changed perhaps most significantly while reading Beautiful Rush.

Beautiful Rush is a beautiful book to read. The poems in Beautiful Rush are meticulously and deliberately formatted and arranged. Words, phrases, idioms and lines all dance around on the white space of the page. The intentional formatting affects how the poem reads off the page, enhances its timbre and rhythm and brings it closer to the way it might sound when recited aloud by the poet. Enjambments and line breaks play a critical role in both the visual and aural effect, like sight reading musical notation.

Beautiful Rush is not a “one and done” read. It actually has kind of an operatic quality. It reminds me of listening to an album (we used to call them that back in the day) over and over. It takes a few times through for the music, lyrics and meaning to really start to sink in. The poems do not reveal their meanings on the surface. They are multi-layered, multi-textured and subtly nuanced. An invitation to a personal scavenger hunt for classical and linguistic references that challenge and stretch the imagination.

Poetry is a multi-faceted thing. It’s about language and meaning, song and music, image and interpretation. Poetry offers the reader a glimpse inside the head and heart of the poet, but also an invitation to look inside one’s own head and heart. A good poem leaves room for interpretation and the opportunity to make that poem one’s own. And, like climbing to the top of a hill, the more you see, you realize the more there is to see. The poems in Beautiful Rush deliver on all counts.

“you hear voices

in hard labor,

and behind closed rooms,

you hear something like knowledge,

clearing its throat.”

 Marc Vincenz ~ Biographical Information

Marc Vincenz, born in Hong Kong, is Swiss-British. In addition to Beautiful Rush, his recent collections include: The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees (Spuyten Duyvil, 2011); Gods of a Ransacked Century (Unlikely Books, 2013); Mao’s Mole (Neopoiesis Press, 2013), and a meta-novel, Behind the Wall at the Sugar Works (Spuyten Duyvil, 2013). A new English-German bi-lingual collection, Additional Breathing Exercises was released by Wolfbach Verlag, Zurich (2014); a book-length poem, This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations, annotated by Tom Bradley is forthcoming in April 2105 Lavender Ink; and a new collection, Becoming the Sound of Bees (Ampersand Books, 2015). He is the author of several chapbooks, has been published in dozens of anthologies and journals and is also the translator of numerous German-language poets. Marc Vincenz is Executive Editor of MadHat Annual (formerly Mad Hatters’ Review) and MadHat Press, Contributing Editor for Open Letters Monthly and Coeditor-in-Chief at Fulcrum: an anthology of poetry and aesthetics. In addition, he is Director of Evolution Arts, Inc. a non-profit organization that promotes independent presses and journals.

As always, I encourage you to go directly through the publisher.

Available from Unlikely Books at www.UnlikelyStories.org

Cover of Beautiful Rush

Surrendering August

Surrendering August

 

early evening, late summer

walking down the lake road with the dogs

the sound of a tractor mowing the field above

grinding and clanking

tall grasses pulsate with cricket song

the water, placid and serene

opalescent pink and turquoise

a fish surfaces and dives

leaving ripples in concentric rings

on the far shore, in the vineyards

timed charges explode like the sun catching on fire

it scares crows away from the grapes

warm sunny afternoons and chilly evenings

sumac leaves, blood crimson

splashed across the blue forever

mornings laden with fog banks and soaking dew

migrating flocks wheel across the sky

air still warm from the day, but soon changing

into the fecund smell of damp coolness

black walnut trees already starting to turn

shedding golden leaves that flutter

like tears onto green grass

last to arrive and the first to go

a little girl rides her bike, training wheels still on

stops at the foot of the steep hill

she’ll be climbing before long

but not for a while

kids going back to school

pinching their noses shut

as they hurl themselves off the dock

into the cool blue water

already a memory

the season slipping away

away, like this day

like youth gobbled up

by the unremitting passage of time

it feels over too soon

already ending when it seems

it’s only just begun

the pale rider draws closer

with each trip around the sun

I stand at the edge of the shoreline

the edge of the season

surrendering August

Red Canoe

 

Red Canoe

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

sitting on the porch
late August
the thrum of crickets
in high summer
I watch the miracle
of a hummingbird
feeding off nectar
from scarlet salvia flowers
painted with God’s
blood-tipped brush

wings moving so fast
nearly invisible
appear to be
standing still
the hummingbird floats
in front of a flower
then moves on to the next
before stopping to rest
on the branch
of a locust tree

Hummingbird

This Is The Shit On My Desk

This Is The Shit On My Desk

5 poetry books, unread
wallet, iPhone
stag horn, plastic
wood and steel.

Notebooks and calendars
piles of receipts and notes
yellow heavy duty tape measure
25 foot, steel blade.

Land line phone
eyeglasses case, black, hard shell.
Pencils and pens sticking out
like porcupine quills from a pottery jar.

Treasure box, speakers
books, lamp and miniature steer skull
3 Baobab seeds from Senegal
and much, much more.

Same As It Ever Was

Same As It Ever Was

Angry voices
the strident chant of protesters
bricks thrown
a plate glass window shatters
a million tiny pieces, glittering
under yellow street lights.

Muffled voices through bullhorns
unrelenting advance,
helmets, gas masks, shields and batons
Pop! Pop! Pop!
clouds of tear gas, acrid, stinging
rolling down the street like a fog bank.

Panic ignites like a flame
ripples through the crowd
like a contagion
the sudden surge
everyone breaks and runs
down side streets and alleyways,

only to regroup
and do it all again
on another street.
The whole pattern
repeats itself
over and over.

From Northern Ireland to Tiananmen Square,
race riots in the burning cities of America,
the Antiwar Movement, Arab Spring
and Occupy Wall Street.
Same old wine, different bottle,
different players, same old game.

Midnite Conspiracy
Midnite Conspiracy

“Factory” is published in Ibbetson Street Review #35

I’m very pleased to have my poem “Factory” in Ibbetson Street Review #35. I am humbled my work is included with brilliant poems from so many fine artists, including Marge Piercy, Kathleen Spivack, Timothy Gager, Teisha Dawn Twomey, Marie Elizabeth-Mali and Lawrence Kessenich, to name just a few. Kessenich’s radiant poem “Afterlife” is worth the price of admission all by itself. Special thanks to publisher Doug Holder for making this all happen. Ibbetson Street review is available as a print journal from Lulu and Amazon for 9 dollars.
Ibbetson Street Review

“Long Gone And Never Coming Back” is published in Literary Orphans

 

Long Gone And Never Coming Back is published in the current issue of Literary Orphans.

I am thrilled to have my piece “Long Gone And Never Coming Back” published in the current issue of Literary Orphans. Thank you Editor Mike Joyce and everyone else who works so diligently behind the scenes to make this happen. I’m especially knocked out by the brilliant pairing of visual art with writing. The brilliant photography of Charles Simms turned my piece into a movie! This issue is full of fascinating interviews, book reviews, essays and compelling fiction, poetry and art!

http://www.literaryorphans.org/playdb/long-gone-never-coming-back-michael-gillan-maxwell/

LOLOGOPS2_small

Independence Day

Independence Day

Sitting outside on the 4th of July

in an Adirondack chair

by the little stone garden

with the scarecrow.

Its white shirt hangs slack

over crucifix arms

straw hat tattered and crumpled

by sun and heavy rains.

I watch clouds float

across the robin egg sky

like helium balloon animals

in a circus parade

pushed asunder by winds

blowing away the storms of yesterday.

 

I think, not so much, about

the Declaration of Independence,

which was initially published as the Dunlap broadside

and primarily signed on August 2nd,

but more about the fact

that this was the date when New York State

abolished slavery and Thoreau

moved into his shack on Walden Pond.

Whitman turned poetry on its head

when he self published Leaves of Grass

on this day, and Lewis Carroll

created Alice in Wonderland,

sending imaginations on a flight of fancy

on Independence Day.

 

“In Summer” published in The Wilderness House Literary Review

I am honored and thrilled to have my piece “In Summer” published in the latest edition of The Wilderness House Literary Review 8/2. Thank you Editor and Publisher Steve Glines and Fiction Editor Prema Bangera for including my piece with work from so many wonderful writers.

“In Summer” can be read by following this link.

http://www.whlreview.com/no-8.2/fiction/MichaelGillanMaxwell.pdf

Follow this link to read the entire issue.

http://www.whlreview.com

Wilderness House Review

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