Printed Matter Vancouver is very grateful to Kevin Killian for this five-star review of our Ghost Town Poetry anthology: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1SI9F66MMJXH2/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1461075114&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books
Poetic Cries from the Other Vancouver
August 30, 2012
By Kevin Killian
Ghost Town Poetry: Cover To Cover Books 2004-2010: An Anthology of Poems from the Ghost Town Open Mic Series (Paperback)
Everything’s up to date in Vancouver (Washington) and this anthology of poetry is made up of poetry read in the town’s hippest reading series from 2004 through 2010. I’m happy to say the series is still going, attracting poets from every part of the Northwest and beyond.
The reading series curators, Christopher Luna and Toni Partington, have made a bargain with the public, and one of their tenets is to let nothing second rate appear in their book. Thus we get the best work from each poet, even the ones famous on a national level, like Michael Rothenberg or David Meltzer (Meltzer, after all, was one of the original New American Poets anointed by Donald M Allen in an influential 1960 anthology, so he knows first hand how a good anthology can change a person’s life). I was awed to think that a single book could give me an in-the-round picture of a single American city, like the old modernist classics such as Spoon River Anthology, but here it goes again. Rob Gourley’s “US 250” describes, in broken, dynamic rhythms, a favorite “cruise,” in which, through the magic of memory, once again “we jump across the creek/ to reach the pumphouse and roam the slanting cowpaths.”
Another Vancouverite, Bernadette Barrio opens up the world of children inching closer to adulthood and the pains of the mother as she prides themselves on their growth, while at risk of losing “that child-like charm they possess.” Reading lines like this make me wonder if sometimes I overthink things and in doing so, I miss out on some of the more poignant experiences of life. “I am a rich man, and I am surrounded by beauty,” writes co-editor Luna in a stirring preface. Other Vancouverites include Rainy Knight, who speaks of the long ago decade in which Elvis Presley visited Washington State, and she met and dated him, and another fine writer, Christi Krug, who recalls dealing with an infirm mother and coping with dementia. “Now I make beds for Mother’s words/ Pulling sterile folds tight/ Smoothing edges around her complexes/ Snug and out of harm’s way.”
The mind of the poet is frequently topsy-turvy, perhaps that is why we turn to poetry in times of economic and cultural challenge, such as today. Luna and Partington have done a sterling job gathering together the best work of many poets I’ve never heard of and sending their wisdom all across the world like a “coastal spirit courier, a rain-free olive branch.”
Kevin Killian lives in San Francisco where he is celebrating Kylie Minogue’s 25th anniversary in show business in his own way. He has a new novel Spreadeagle (Publication Studio, http://www.publicationstudio.biz/books/182) and a new artist book with NYC-based sculptor Ugo Rondinone. Next up, Tagged, a collection of Killian’s intimate photographs of poets, artists, musicians and filmmakers naked, or near enough. Previous publications include Impossible Princess, Little Men, and The Argento Series. He is also the co-author (with Lewis Ellingham) of Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance and the co-editor (with Peter Gizzi) of My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer.