Sunday, December 11, 2011

Amy King writes:  A review once described my work as “moving between the registers of the fabulous and the mundane;” as I write, however, I don’t purposely aim to interlace tonalities – I amass, pile, and occasionally flatten as I beat my matter into text. 

Poetry needs no one new party to lead it into the fraying future; if we’re to save the world, let’s raise a revolution as shapeshifters. In other words, this book is about metamorphosis through a radical cherishing. I am ravished by the world, aren’t you?

Please support Small Press Distribution - here.  


"Rarely have the nude and the cooked been so neatly joined” as in Amy King’s I Want to Make You Safe. If “us,” “herons,” and “dust” rhyme,  then these poems rhyme. If that makes you feel safe, it shouldn’t. Amy King’s poems are exuberant, strange, and a bit grotesque. They’re spring-loaded and ready for trouble. Categories collapse. These are the new “thunderstorms with Barbie roots."
                                                                                                   — Rae Armantrout 
Vulnerability, fragility, and anxiety are all flushed out into the open here and addressed with such strong sound and rhythm that we recognize a resilient, defiant strength within them. King puts relentless pressure on forces seemingly beyond our reach and, in bringing them closer, exposes their own vulnerable centers. This is a poetry equally committed to language as a tool with social obligations and language as an art material obligated to reveal its own beauty. King’s language does both magnificently. 
                                                                                                    — Cole Swensen

Amy King’s poems seem to encompass all that we think of as the “natural” world, i.e. sex, sun, love, rotting, hatching, dreaming, especially in the wonderful long poem “This Opera of Peace.” She brings these abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living: “Let the walls bear up the angle of the floor,/Let the mice be tragic for all that is caged,/Let time’s contagion mar us/until spoken people lie as particles of wind.
                                                                                                    — John Ashbery

I love Amy King's smile in photos of Amy King, Amy King's exuberance and looping, bashing panache (flamboyant manner, reckless courage) in the poems of Amy King, I'm going to say Amy King every chance I get in this blurb to make you think "I gotta read me some Amy King," especially if you're "looking for anything/that will pull the cork, boil the blood/of displeasure," as only the poems of Amy King can in the world in which Amy King is King (and Queen).     
                                                                                                     — Bob Hicok 

The first poem I read by Amy King was "MEN BY THE LIPS OF WOMEN" and it struck me with a force I had previously felt on encountering masterworks by Lorca and Dylan Thomas.  I won't live long enough to see if her poetry will continue to equal the magnificence of theirs, but the fact that she achieved it once (at least) proves to me it could.     
                                                                                                      — Bill Knott 


Friday, June 24, 2011

Randall Radac aka John Lee Brook has a new book!

Posting below by editor Joy Leftow, is a short interview with Randall Radac who has had poetry and art published in The Cartier Street Review.

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble is the best price. Amazon wants more than the price of the book to ship it.

JL: How did you came to write this book?

RR: After meeting some members of the Aryan Brotherhood in jail, I observed they are fascinatingly violent people with almost magnetic personalities. I decided to write a book about them after doing some research and discovering very little had been published about them.

JL: Radac, how bout some spice on this latest publication?

RR: The book is written under my pen name, John Lee Brook and it takes a close look at a White Supremacist Gang. The FBI has says, “In for life and out by death”, the Aryan Brotherhood known as “The most ferocious and notorious of any of the prison groups.”

As an ex-convict in close contact with the Aryan Brotherhood I've written a devastating exposé, revealing how the notorious white supremacist prison gang has become perhaps the most powerful criminal organization in America, an achievement much more remarkable considering that the majority of its members remain behind bars, and its infamous Commission—the folkloric threesome, Thomas ‘Terrible Tom’ Silverstein, Tyler ‘the Hulk’ Bingham and Barry ‘the Baron’ Mills—are kept in maximum-security solitary confinement, as the US government makes an open effort to subdue the organization by any means

JL: Any other little blurb, RR?

Yes, despite government efforts to curtail them, the Aryan Brotherhood continues to thrive. My book Blood In, Blood Out demonstrates how a combination of Machiavelli, Nietzsche, meditation, secret codes, brutal violence and sheer will enable its buried puppet masters to continue to tug at the strings of an organization at the forefront of the black market trade in drugs, arms and money laundering. In Blood In, Blood Out, John Lee Brook provides both an extensive overview of the Aryan Brotherhood and a thrilling look at its untold recent history.

About the Author:
John Lee Brook’s study of the white supremacy movement has led him to strange places, where he met hard men with strange beliefs. Blood In, Blood Out: The Violent Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood (Headpress Publishing/June 2011) is his first book about white supremacy.

Publisher: Headpress, June 2011
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1900486776
ISBN-13: 978-1900486774

To contact RR, write: or

Sunday, June 05, 2011

"I Read This": Poetry South 2010

One of the many things I am grateful for is the New Pages website. I happen to live near the owners, Casey and Denise, and I have begun to read magazines they give to me in order to write a review. For my first effort, I read and wrote about the 2010 issue of Poetry South. It is 64 pages jammed with 49 lyric and narrative poems, among other things. My whole review comes to less than 400 words. If I were you, I'd grab a cup of coffee, enjoy the full review, and then read more reviews at New Pages.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review - 39 Poems by Charles Butler

Article first published as Book Review: 39 Poems by Charles Butler on
39 POEMS by Charles J. Butler
ISBN 978-0-9772718-8-7
Publication date 2010
74 pages
No Shirt Press, Brooklyn, NY

Reading through the 39 Poems brought to mind Hitchcock’s movie, The 39 Steps because each poem stretches the reader and the page towards the next poem and set of steps without explaining where he is going. Also the poems on the pages of the book are laid out in emulation of climbing up and down steps so that while reading I felt like I was skipping steps. Each poem relates to life’s struggles; the various ways love affects us and how meaningful respect is. He writes about everyday things moving us up and down steps lyrically and emotionally.

Butler describes how one can be oblivious to a murder and walk across bloodstains on our big city streets without recognizing them in the book’s first poem, Crimson Stroll. Suddenly while stepping over the red brown stains, the author recognizes it for what it is, seeing a stark vivid beauty of someone’s life bled out on the streets.

Someone’s life bled out
At your feet
              Think on it
                             Times you bled
Times you made others bleed
            Look on it
            Big dark path on 8th ave
            Brooklyn side
                                    in your way

look on it
the fuel that moves us all
dried out on a dirty sidewalk
who bled …

are they dead
                        look at it
a dark stain
                        it’s almost…
            a bit of Canada                         flashes up your neck
and ears
back in the world you move around it
and move on
                        wishing for cold rain
to wash away the stain   human sin
most of all
                           your own

We’re all here – all human and suffering –  and this is the grist for this author to describe how we’re all the same and different at the same time, but he wants to show us that we have the capacity to be and do more that drives us and of course this is what drives this poet to create poetry. The stains our lives create must contain beauty otherwise why do we exist? Butler’s struggle is to align himself with the humanity in all of us, despite the murder the chaos, the beauty the differences between rich and poor, black and white, and he struggles with it all, climbing up and down, retreating and coming to terms with wrongs and rights and even the grays and imperfections.

The problem is that our climbing stretching and reaching is never done. You go up you descend and then you begin all over again because that’s the way life is, it’s never done until you’re done - or dead and gone - is more like it - or if you’re a quitter. Butler is no quitter and no matter how far down he’s gone – he bounces back to reexamine his roots and the course of his life, fighting to stay in touch with his spiritual side. This spiritual side is at the root of Butler’s talent, as he controls his anger hurt and humiliation when he’s experienced racism. For any of you who have never experienced racism, normal is a good place to start to understand what it’s about when you get stopped on the street because of the color of your skin.

                                    nature of the beast
            I’m not gonna say I’ve lost
count o’the many times I’ve been blackstopped
            it’s more than a few
                        I’m 16
walkin’ on a bed-stuy street
goin’ noplace fast
            blue n’ white rolls up on me
unis pile out …
            nicely they ask me if I’m carryin’
a gun
            nicely I say no
            they  ask if I would submit
to a search
                        mind you             they don’t have
to ask me
                        a goddamn thing
and they know it
I know it
                        An’ the brother
watchin’ this
                                    who wishes right now
he was            
            someplace else
            I say
                        go ahead

I can relate to this struggle and suffering. All my life as a Jew and especially in my childhood I was called a Christ killer. The recent advent of the Mel Gibson movie and his ensuing drunk arrest and slurred comment about Jews brought it home to me again. But this is a tactic of the upper echelon. They want to keep us all at each other’s throats so we will keep our busy bee status and keep making the rich richer. It’s a means of control and humiliation and it makes us hurt. Mr. Butler knows this hurt intimately and writes about it poignantly.
39 Poems cover a range of experiences; awareness of the haves and have-nots, racism, love, hurt, abandonment and loss, and more importantly the urge to understand and come to terms with it and explain what it’s all about. After all this everyday stuff is the mesh of our lives. The ability to sublimate sets humans apart from other species, to take our hurts and pain and transcend them for the greater good – to create beauty in ugliness is the work Mr. Butler attends to.

In DMV rag, Butler speaks for all of us who have ever been to the DMV.

We’re in the dmv now
                        Hundreds of black
And brown faces
                        some whites
all of them wanna be someplace else
but here we are …
                                    it’s all mad
gotta be
            half the world is on fire            an’
the other is on line waiting for their number to be called
lookin’ for a place t’ sit
an empty seat
is like
            fool’s gold

Don’t we all feel like this when we visit official offices, public school registration, social security, Medicaid, even the closed down US passport passport bureaus, and welfare’s the worst. I have a poem about it called, “Welfare’s Still A Bitch!”

The searching and questioning never stop just like in the movie The 39 Steps, there is always another side to examine to analyze understand and conquer. His poems speak to maturity and growth and show how youth and mistakes although unavoidable are only part of climbing and descending those steps, a poem for each step.

In word one baby, Butler explains why a writer writes.

writing                         since he was eleven
thru                        good days
                                                and dark times
the pain of living
                                                the come hither call
of death
            and madness inbetween
even hung                        ‘em up for a time
didn’t last
why write?
he’s free

Is the author describing himself here or is he speaking for everyone? We all know writers write about what they know and well, … if they write about what they don’t know … everyone knows that doesn’t work. Artists from time immemorial have been known to describe angst which often spurs their creative urges. Does every writer experience angst? I can’t speak for every artist. Many writers have spoken and written about their angst yet angst alone doesn’t make a man an artist. There is some other indistinguishable indefinable something that inspires a writer to create, that makes his writings stand out among others, something that prods him to spend his time writing while others commune, have sex, watch tv or do other things while writing remains a lonely task which takes time.

Words don’t miraculously appear on the page. Writing is what gives Butler the freedom he speaks of above. His words create a freedom that exists nowhere else around in our world and he helps the reader to feel it too. Through that freedom we see what he sees; a stark world filled with fertility and barrenness that provides us not only with a place to survive but a place to grow and thrive. The growth in Butler’s poetry and words inspires me too. I recommend 39 Poems sincerely and without any reservation.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Mammoth Bones & Contemporary Beef - Bernard Alain - reviewed by Joy Leftow

Mammoth Bones & Contemporary Beef, a witty new chap that may be small but wallops a strong punch that will knock you silly and leave you begging for more.

The editor in me kept looking for that one line that needed help. I finally gave in to his sparse economy of language that flows with an unconscious rhythm and wry dry humor. So dry it made me thirst for more, and I read the entire 36-page chap in one setting that went more quickly than I liked because I couldn't stop reading and laughing. I chewed as much meat from those mammoth bones as I dared!

Congrats Alain, you made a big hit with me - and … what? You thought I’d leave it at that because we used to edit the same mag? Gimme a break. I laughed so hard my eyes teared up and I cried.  Not once but several times over a couple of hours. The honesty is over the top handed to us on a pedestal. The chapbook's cover with its mammoth creatures mimic the poems. They are bigger than life and than all of us together. Thank his mom, Anatholie Alain for that, for keeping the organic life form emerging from Alain’s third eye blind.

The hallucinations
have started
The pain more severe
disturbances of the

sitting in a dory
out east
not giving a rat’s ass

Only a poet (and sometime even poets don’t) know how to lay out the work so true to form that it remains poetically true to its sparseness and economic wording. He references other poets to let us know he wonders if he matches up, makes the cut or has he been circumcised like most of us. He experiments with sounds and placements of vowels instinctually letting the poem find its own roots and meaning. He lets the poem decide where it needs to go,

The slow process of submission
The eventuality
Arriving at some maniacal correction
For the s’s

So obsessed he
Was possessed

who was he kidding

even Blake thought he might’ve liked the

The words evolve to take us on a journey – a rampage inside ourselves where we explore to learn more about why we are who we are. Who else but writers would care where we are spiritually talent wise in life, and who but a writer would mix the two. The book sold out on Amazon but is available here.