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Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary

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MadHat Drive-By Book Reviews: Three Works by Robert Vaughan

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My review of Robert Vaughan’s books: “Microtones,” “Diptychs+Triptychs+Lipsticks+Dipshits” and “Addicts & Basements” is live on MadHat’s Drive-By Book Reviews at:

http://madhatarts.com/madhatreviews/three-works-by-robert-vaughan/

Book Review Before Whose Glory by Lawrence Kessenich 2013 FutureCycle Press

Book Review Before Whose Glory by Lawrence Kessenich  2013 FutureCycle Press

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Lawrence Kessenich’s Before Whose Glory is his first full length collection of poems, published in 2013 by FutureCycle Press. Kessenich writes about time and space, people and places, unfathomable mysteries and the beauty of nature, the human condition and the experience of being alive. Before Whose Glory is a collection of beautifully crafted poems, each one a story, each one its own self contained universe.

To say that Kessenich’s poems are accessible is not to say that they are without depth. The poems in this collection are deceptively complex, intricately layered and subtly nuanced. Each poem offers a clear path through the piece without obfuscation, needlessly difficult arcane references or unintelligible abstractions that might otherwise leave me bewildered and wondering if I’ve missed the point. These pieces are compelling and evocative. They insinuate their way into my subconscious and run through my head like my favorite songs. They are poems I find myself going back to and noticing something new with each reading.

Kessenich’s poetry is narrative and reflective and the artist’s sensibilities are pervasive throughout the collection. His understated, gently ironic humor and sense of the absurd comes through in the pieces based on true stories ripped from the news that are stranger than fiction. Other poems are poignant and compassionate reflections on relationships and family life written from the perspective of being the Devil himself, a kid with a paper route, a son, a lover, a husband, a father, or a citizen of planet Earth.

With this collection of symmetrically crafted poems, Kessenich demonstrates a dazzling ability for juxtaposing the mundane with the sublime. Some pieces begin in a very ordinary setting and end in reverent contemplation of the spiritual and metaphysical and sometimes it’s the other way around. Either way, the poems in Before Whose Glory give me cause to pause; stop what I’m doing, question, reflect, appreciate and remind me to be grateful for life and all its blessings.

Book Review: Microtones by Robert Vaughan Červená Barva Press 2013

Microtones by Robert Vaughan
Červená Barva Press 2013 Gloria Mindock ~ Editor and Publisher

Robert Vaughan’s 2013 release, Microtones from Červená Barva Press contains two dozen prose poems of varying lengths and a variety of rhythms and structures. From the shortest, just four lines, to the longest, going on two pages; Vaughan’s poems are like songs with a hook that make you want to hear them again. Microtones is like a hand carved box filled with little treasures, a leather album with photographs of people and places you want to know more about, or a double record on vinyl with 24 three minute songs you play over and over.

From the opening piece, The Outlaw, right through to Wrestling With Genetics, the poem that closes the book, the arc and flow keeps the reader moving from one poem to the next. However, you can also pick any poem at random and it shines just as brightly on its own.

Vaughan’s writing is deep and nuanced and evokes both a visual and a visceral response. The poems flow with an ease and grace that is musical and lyrical, in language rich with unexpected images and surprising passages that stop you in your tracks and make you slow down, go back, and read them again.

You hang mid-air, arms akimbo, glance askance. Resigned. Jubilant.
As we are when any end is imminent.”

Robert Vaughan is a keen and compassionate observer of humanity; his writing, at times, tender, poignant and sad, yet unsentimental and tough when it needs to be. There’s also a healthy dose of irony and humor and a playfulness with language that is unique and refreshing.

“He’s the tetherball attached to my pole, the flying trapeze of my soul.”

You slide into each poem with so much ease, that, before you know it, you’re off and running. Microtones celebrates the predicaments of the human condition and the ephemeral quality of human relationships, and mourns their passing, while at the same time, still holding hope for the future.

Though Microtones is work from a seasoned author, it is also fresh and exciting new work from a writer just really hitting his stride, an artist who speaks to us, in full, with a vibrant voice, and whom we can expect to hear from again.

Microtones is available from Červená Barva Press
http://www.cervenabarvapress.com

Robert Vaughan’s website is http://www.robert-vaughan.com

Microtones

The Suburban Cowboy Catalogue

My piece “The Suburban Cowboy Catalogue” has been published in the current edition of Defenestration Magazine.

“The Suburban Cowboy Catalogue,” by Michael Gillan Maxwell

Thank you Eileen Lavelle for including my piece in your publication!

Defenestration Magazine

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