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GEC’s Review of Len Gasparini’s Collected Poems in The Chronicle Herald: “Gasparini is Rock n’ Roll’s Offspring”

collected poemsIn a recent issue of the Chronicle Herald, George Elliott Clarke reviews Len Gasparini’s Collected Poems (Guernica Editions, Fall 2015).

Clarke begins by addressing the daunting process of compiling a Collected.

“A Collected Poems is a daunting work, for it is the poet taking a long view of his work and trying to position its best showing in the even longer view of posterity.”

He explains that Gasparini’s collection is a “striking read in this regard” as he manages to stray away from the pretentiousness that can arise with the format.

“His work studiously avoids any pretentiousness or ivory tower (poison) ivy. If these verses are his bones — entombed metaphorically here — they are dancing”

Furthermore, Clarke points to Gasparini’s writing influences: the rock n’ roll figures of the 50s and 60s.

“Indeed, Gasparini is rock ’n’ roll’s offspring: “I had … an exciting adolescence. My teachers were Elvis Presley, James Dean, and Jack Kerouac.” It’s easy to read these epigrams (generally short poems treating poignantly or wittily a theme) as lost liner notes to a classic Dylan album or as spontaneous footnotes to Kerouac’s On the Road.”

Clarke also comments on Gasparini’s “superb poem-studies (akin to a fine cartoonist suddenly offering a capacious, breathtaking, landscape painting),” such as Elegy, After the Divorce, and Knisteresque.

He stresses the overall quality of the collection — “an excellent read, and convicted in its themes — sex, cities, song, plus liquor, ’ligion and livin’, ” and expresses his thoughts on which poems from the collection are the strongest:

“The poems that are consistently strongest are, arguably — mysteriously — those that brood on Nature. Gasparini is the hipster as naturalist.”

Posted in Poetry, Reviews.

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