Monday, January 30, 2012

quick note on a good read

for a while i lost touch with a poet who i consider a good, if geographically distant [because i'm west coast and he's east coast, and i rarely leave my burg], friend, steve caratzas. if you clicked on that link you'd see steve's not updated his blog in over a year. a few weeks ago i was curious to see what he was up to so i googled the hombre and found a few of his poems published here and there.

i also discovered caratzas recently published a new chap, past present suture [drifting man press, 2011]. i ordered it right away. a few things are different in steve's verse. the work still retains a tough rind but has become structurally ambitious. i once compared caratzas to a meat poet. a meat poet was a label used on writers publishing during the mimeo revolution of the 1960s and 1970s where the work was simple and brutal. early bukowski fit the example; so does sac's own douglas blazek.

these aren't poems that are throwbacks to an earlier era in publishing. instead, steve's formerly snap-in-place linebreaks are looser and enjambed. these poems remind me a bit of australian poets like david prater or liam ferney or paul hardacre. if i lose the thread here it's because steve's poems sound and nearly behave like i've known them in earlier chapbooks such as It Will Be A Train [2004] and The Incredulity Tour [2005]. yet the toughness of these earlier texts have yielded to an ambition in the making of these newer poems.

Blue Noise

We could use the discouragement
so gimmie gimmie gimmie some
pain that lavender scented everything
makes nothing feel better who knew
though I have long suspected life is
tricky sometimes in a sweet way too
but you know the tune better than
most unlush life without a roman collar
on nor god nor irony and something
about men and their fear sets you free
under the influence of me arms without
hands on the jackpot didn't you? I hadn't
thought about it was you and you only
such infernal appraisal is final approval.

i love how this poem quotes, i think, song lyrics. that's how i read it since the line '[s]o gimmie gimmie gimmie some' sound to my ears a lot like an early black flag tune rasped by henry rollins. it is one of the many pleasures i have with this book. caratzas is also a musician and his craft with sound is plenty abundant in the many slant rhymes in the lines.

these are fluid, ambitious texts. but the old caratzas makes an appearance in the book too. many pieces are flat out funny and they are poems of work and working for a living. steve caratzas is a full-blooded 21st century writer. one whose poems embody not just the life of the text but the life of the writer. take this poem to the office with you.

Life Among the Cubicles

I've completely lost my will to live
I wonder what I should have for lunch
I can't believe that pig is married
It smells like someone is eating stir fried shit
No one cares about your trip to Baltimore

tell me you don't recognize yourself in that piece. anyway, this is an excellent chap and i'm glad steve is alive and writing.



At 12:42 PM, Blogger Jim K. said...

...i really like the line/topic
shifts the blunt trauma
of self-dialog in the 2nd
reminds me of some guys who
put canned kim-chi in the microwave
every day...
ah, life in gophertown

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Steve Caratzas said...


Thank you for your kind words about Past Present Suture.

I plan to revive The Blog Of Lewd Enlightenment soon and hope to keep in closer touch despite the vast amount of country that separates us.

It's always nice when someone "gets" it. You get it.



At 9:15 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

jim, nuked kimchi is nasty. but probably a world better than that gawdawful nuked burnt popcorn stink that invades the air at work. there should be a law!

steve, wonderful to hear from you. that's good news to me about you reviving your blog. 3000 miles, west coast/east coast, is vast space, sure, but it's not so far between poets.


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