Category Archives: boston literary news

Portrait of an Artist as a Young Poseur by Doug Holder

portPortrait of an Artist as a Young Poseur

Boston 1974-1983

By Doug Holder

Big Table Publishing Company

Boston, MA

ISBN: 978-0-9908413-6-4

17 Pages

Review by Dennis Daly

Doug Holder hears voices. Lots of them! He channels these voices through his maturely manufactured, yet wholly internalized, persona, a replica of his younger, offbeat self. Holder’s persona specializes in self-deprecation, perceptiveness, and smart-alecky truth-telling. Consider the catch word of his title – poseur. Make sure you give it the appropriate French pronunciation with an elitist air, and see how it colors everything that comes after. The inset photo of Holder on the cover of this chapbook only adds to the effect. Tellingly, the specter of life’s brutality always seems to hover in and over the fabric of each of these funky prose poems, teasing out some pretty unusual insights.

Reading through this sixteen part poetic memoir the cadence carries you forward down alleys, past vacant lots, into a psychiatric ward, and out into the mystery of Boston’s Chinatown. The pull of the words and phrasing reminds me a lot of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry—specifically Kaddish. Unlike Ginsberg, however, Holder does not constantly engage. He keeps a bit of distance between himself and his objects of interest until he doesn’t. Then he zeros in with a vengeance, albeit a funny vengeance.

Holder’s persona, just out of college, comes alive at 271 Newbury Street in a piece entitled Newbury Street. The poet initially gives the reader a grand tour of the vicinity and a mini job history before dropping names of famous acquaintances – an interesting narrative in itself, but Holder is just setting his audience up. The poet springs his trap,

… I had the same Chinese

laundry as talk radio host David Brudnoy (the Chinese man always

used to yell at me Why you lose ticket?) Brudnoy, his pockmarked and

intelligent face, with an ironic smile. I worked as a clerk at the corner of

Newbury and Beacon Street, Sunny Corner Farms. Members of the

Cars used to come in regularly—Rick so sky high, fingering a

Twinkie… also Gila Radner—a frenzy of frenzied hair, Howard

Zinn, tall, a radical patrician, and Barney Frank—rumpled and in a

rush—all on the night shift. And beers after work at Frankenstein’s. My

boss, a fat Irishman, called me a dirty kike regularly after he had a few…

nice to me the next day…

“Nice,” a civilized and suburban word fits so snugly in that last sentence.

In the same poem humor and irony help maintain distance and narrative speed, but does not negate a strong sense of tragedy and waste pulsing through the page. Everywhere food and rodents seem to share the down-but-not-quite-out-background of this artist-in-training. Holder concludes his Newbury Street narrative with a wink,

… Those nights writing in my

furnished room, the clank, clank of the radiator—thinking I was a

Beat poet or something. The mice scurried by—my father told me,

over the phone: Get the hell out of there! My mother joined in, That’s the

lifestyle they lead, Larry. Hordes of us made the pilgrimage to be with

the rodents and roaches… all-night poker games with the service

bartender who worked at the Hilton… the dishwashers from his shift,

Latinos with flashy gold-filling smiles. Bartending was not his life he

told us—he was going back to U/Mass Boston—for the past 5 years he

told us.

Innocence gets its due in Holder’s piece entitled, Combat Zone, Greyhound Bus Station, Boston Public Library. The poet gives his reader an affecting reaction after the real world sneers at him. Here’s the gist of it,

…I weaved my way to the carnality of the Combat Zone—

down LaGrange Street. First stopping by Hand the Hatter, an

avuncular old man—some fish—some fish out of order—water—in the

midst of this—presiding over blocked, buffed, and august fedoras—the

kind my father wore—his heels pounding the floors in Penn. Station.

And the whore in the bar said: Give this kid a glass of milk.And all my

street-wise posturing melted with these succinct words—not a

boilermaker but a milk boy.

Holder’s persona seeks to confirm his romantic notions of the artist’s world by escaping to filmdom in a meditation he calls Harvard Square Cinema. This is probably my favorite piece in the collection. Stream of consciousness rushes through this set of memories from Brando’s Last Tango in Paris, setting up the way the world should work, to Frank Cardullo, who owned and held court at the Wursthaus eatery, delivering corny puns filled with dead-end wisdom, to an insane Harvard University exile, who counsels his fellow comrades, presumably directing their financially naïve futures. Holder’s persona here introduces a couple of his old pals,

…The Harvard refugees at the au Bon pain.

Expelled from the academy—for some reason or another. Gravitated

like moths around the light of Harvard Yard. Sat with my friend

Byron, trust-fund man, graduate of the wards of McLean—he

dabbled in Native American crafts—liked to ogle the young girls

passing by, called the old ladies trouts. George—a scavenger of scraps

of newspapers, and gossip of the street—full of news of the supposed

scandals at Harvard—joined us, and let us in on the insane, inside

dope.

Most modern practitioners of “beat” style and themes are pale imitations of the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, John Weiners, et al. Holder delivers more. He brings with him his own value added innovations to the genre, most singularly his humor.

In the very last line of his very last piece in this collection, Holder stands on a rain-slicked street in Chinatown waiting for a dramatic introduction in Twilight Zone fashion. I hope this signals that another installment of these “poseur” poems will follow in short order. Very short order.
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To order go to  http://lulu.com/ibbetsonpress

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Dennis DalyDennis Daly lives in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife Joanne. They have four adult children. He is a graduate of Boston College and has an MA in English Literature from Northeastern University. Daly worked at General Electric for ten years. He edited and publishedThe Union Activist newsletter and the North Shore Union Leader, a labor newspaper. He also was the managing editor of the Electrical Union News, the official news organ of Local 201 IUE. He also was a regular contributor to The Salem News., He was elected to a leadership position of the 9000 member IUE union. Later he worked as a Department Head in the City Of Salem. He has been published in many poetry journals and magazines and nominated for Pushcart prizes in 2013 and 2014. He is included in a chapbook, published by Northeastern University Press, with two other poets, Robert deYoung and Patrick Duddy. . His second book, a verse translation of Sophocles’ Ajax, was published by Wilderness House Press in August, 2012.

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*first published at The Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene

 

 

 

 

Coming this July- The 21st Edition of The Fox Chase Review

Trail at Pennypack Nature Sanctuary

Trail at Pennypack Nature Sanctuary

The Summer 2015 Edition of The Fox Chase Review our 21st, is in production and will appear on line this July.

Poetry by: Simon Anton Diego Baena, Kevin Brophy, Michael DeMarco, Gil Fagianella, Ananya S Guha, Michelle Grottola, Maria Keane, Adrian Manning, David P. Miller, Michelle Myers, Carlos Reyes and Laura Madeline Wiseman.

Fiction by: Sterling Brown, Joseph Crossen, Jean Davis, and Nancy Sherman.

http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/

The Plum Tree Tavern – Eco Friendly and Open to Submissions

plum treeRussell Streur, longtime barkeep of The Camel Saloon is branching out so to speak. He has established a new literary site, The Plum Tree Tavern to focus on short works on nature and ecology. Longer works of eco-poetry will also be considered.

Russell Streur-Barkeep

Russell Streur-Barkeep

The Plum Tree Tavern is located at:  http://theplumtreetavern.blogspot.com/  Submissions may be sent to plumtreetavern@gmail.com ; submitters should  read the guidelines. We wish Russell the best with this new endeavor.

RIP Franz Wright 1953–2015

franz-wright

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/05/15/franz-wright-waltham-pulitzer-prize-winning-poet-dies/kkYxHZXge3tsxS87EmDx4O/story.html

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http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/franz-wright

Winter 2015 Edition of The Fox Chase Review is Now Live

Pennypack Creek - Winter

Pennypack Creek – Winter

The winter 2015 edition of The Fox Chase Review is now live.

www.thefoxchasereview.org

This edition  features:

Poetry by:

M.P. Carver, Colin Dardis, Marty Esworthy, Melanie Eyth,  Gene Halus, Phil Linz, Gloria Monaghan, Stephen Page,  Chad Parenteau,  Prabha Nayak Prabhu,  Felino A. Soriano, Jack Veasey,  Lee Varon

Fiction by:

Ramona Long, Mary Pauer, Jeffrey Voccola

www.thefoxchasereview.org

Pre-Winter 2014 Editions of the Fox Chase Review

Fox_Chase_Review__2_

For those looking for The Fox Chase Review pre 2014, Sandra Davidson is currently working on converting the files into a web friendly pdf file .You will be able to access  the file at www.thefoxchasereview  by clicking  the archives link when she completes the transfer.

Coming Soon….The Winter 2015 Edition of The Fox Chase Review

The Banks of the Pennypack Creek in Philadelphia

The Banks of the Pennypack Creek in Philadelphia

The winter 2015 edition of The Fox Chase Review is now in production. This edition will feature:

Poetry by:

M.P. Carver, Colin Dardis, Marty Esworthy, Melanie Eyth,  Gene Halus, Phil Linz, Gloria Monaghan, Stephen Page,  Chad Parenteau,  Prabha Nayak Prabhu,  Felino A. Soriano, Jack Veasey,  Lee Varon

Fiction by:

Ramona Long, Mary Pauer, Jeffrey Voccola

 

Boston 1978-83 Stream of consciousness sort of–portrait of an artist as a young poseur

By Doug Holder

holder

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The picture above is of a one time rooming house on Newbury Street ( 271) which I was a denizen of from ( 1978-1983).

I lived in a room on the top floor (38/week), bathroom down the hall, a stairway to the roof, cockroaches–above Davio’s Rest. I remember I worked at the “Fatted Calf” in Copley Square as a short order cook, and sold the Globe over the phone in Cambridge. Used to frequent the Exeter Theatre down the block– Marx Brothers, Rocky Horror–chanting at midnight–ate at Guild’s drugstore across from the Lenox Hotel, Ethel, the counterman, continuous narrative of her rotten kids at the Old Colony project in Southie… I also was an asst. manager at Big L Discount Stores for a stint– health and beauty aids–can you believe it?…taught in the South End at Dr. Solomon Carter Mental Health Center–DYS and DSS Kids… field trips to Roxbury and the abandoned Jewish Temples…  home visits for the kids…the families smoking pot and doing lines..There was a restaurant I used to frequent, the Peter Pan on Beacon Street–big cafeteria style food, poetry readings, Jim and I sat near the steam table, our words floated on the mist of steamed cabbage– and I was habitually at the Kebab and Curry right down the block…sitar and sag . I used to see Richard Yates  (Revolutionary Road”)  a drunken shamble down the block, and I had the same Chinese laundry ( I always lost my ticket..he was irate Why you lose ticket!!) as the late radio personality David Brudnoy–loved his show. I remember … working as a clerk at the corner of Newbury and Beacon Street–  (Sunny Corner Farms) “The Cars” used to come in there regularly,  Rick so sky high..fingering a Twinkie.. also remember meeting Gildna Radner, Barney Frank, and Howard Zinn on the night shift. And beers after work at Frankenstein’s. My boss after–a fat Irish man called me a dirty kike regularly after he had a few…nice to me the next day… I remember the ancient gay security guard ( Maynard) who used to come in to chat–and always told me of stories of how young men were enamored with him–and yes the “toothless whore” who told me she only gives “head” to her ” man” her point of honor. I remember during a snow storm I gave shelter to the street icon ” Mr. Butch” and almost left him there overnight…Oh yes the Victor Hugo bookshop–what a joint– cloistered myself with used and rare..and the Newbury Steakhouse–remember the chef– a real card–dirty jokes and hard-earned wisdom–we used to shoot the shit..even had a sort of girlfriend–well–I later learned she was community property–if you know what I mean–I remember sitting on the stoop of my brownstone on a hot summer night, and people would stop and chat and shoot the summer breeze–I remember being dead drunk and asking the drunks sleeping on the grates of the Boston Public Library what the meaning of life was…They told me to f-off. I remember the thick hash and eggs I had every morning for breakfast– how the eggs would bleed every morning on that mound–and Malaba–the Zimbabwe  man on the night shift at McLean –called it hashish browns -would be dead if I continued that habit. I remember writing in my furnished room–with my hot plate and thinking I was a Beat poet or something–mice scurrying by–my father told me” get the hell out of there,” My mother joined in ” That’s the life style they live, Larry…”  Hordes of us made pilgrimages to be with the rodents and roaches.. remember all night poker games with the service bartender, who worked at the Hilton. He was going back to U/Mass for years to finish his degree.. for the past 5 years. Courtesy of Shabunawaz Photography © 2010 ( Picture first appeared in Oddball Magazine)

Part 2

Oh–that distinct flushed out smell of Father’s Five–tattooed- Hell’s Angels, ready to bounce you at the door–the Citgo sign flashing in the canyon of Kenmore Square…direction, an elixir for your fog–vinyls at Loony Tunes–the old ladies in Coolidge Corner who brought you their dead husbands’ shirts when you manned the counter–“this should fit you they crooned–“-and you would be a walking monument to the deceased. Cutting through the alleys in the Back Bay– a buffet in the trash bins for the down and out–they delicately picked at the remains of the day–sewage and rot behind a tony shop– it was always Doomsday in the Commons–street preachers at a clearance sale—street singers–sing for change and begged for it–the old Italian guy who yelled at you: “Hey kid–ripe tomatoes–bring some for ya tomato”–laughing–the stub of a cigar shaking outside his mouth… the Mass. ave bridge gave your life a horizon–open space from the small furnished room– a city on a hill–Buzzy’s roast-beef–in front of the Charles Street Jail —a knish–delish–hotdog , —  oh,red phallus of beef, melts in my teeth– .  Karen–the Jewish girl in the North End–you lived and learned to love and leave–Caruso music and the couple that had operatic fights in sync… Her last words before she threw you out “I can’t stand all this eating.” Smell of bread baking all night–corpulent men outside the social club–called you twinkle toes, as you jogged by with chicken legs.  Your friend– a clerk–dating a dwarf–an adjunct at B.C.–American Studies–small love affair–

Part 3

Lived on Park Drive–sounds fancy–  but overlooked  the subway tracks and the vast Sears warehouse– the roar of the subway, the gray, looming Sears trucks in the distance–the trickle of the Muddy River–My window open–forgot I was nude, catcalls from the subway platform at my flabby body–bloated from the 11 to 7 shift, sitting watching the restraints– on patients– rise and fall slightly with their sedated breath–so many chests inflated, deflated…defeated. The croissants from the Savoy Baker in Audbon Circle were flaky concessions, the dark beers and dark cavernous bar at Brown’s my balm. And the elevated tracks on Harrison avenue–elevated me–I was a transcendent blur crosstown… the Dudley Bus idling near the vacant lot, rats as big as cats foraging near a fence. Sometimes I met her at the Nickelodeon,…was it the Kiss of the Spiderman…? Held her hand…traced it the way I would her body later in her studio– a rail thin graphic artist from Providence–she wrote me beautiful letters, that made me swoon in my room. holder 2

 

 

Part 4 

The Greyhound Station was near a RockaBilly bar–the flashing, seductive light of the Playboy Club, hawked long legs and short resumes–there I weaved my way to the carnality of the Combat Zone–down La Grange Street, first stopping by Hand the Hatter, an avuncular old man–some fish–some fish out of order–in the midst of all this–presided over blocked, buffed and august fedoras–the kind my father wore, his heels pounding the floor in Penn Station. And the whore in the bar said ” Give this kid a glass of milk.” And all my street-wise posturing melted with these succinct words–not a boilermaker man but a milk boy.

In the old wing of the Boston Public Library Bacchante and Baby met me–lifting her child with joy–I wondered if my mother ever did that with me? A bust of Henry James stared at me in Bates Hall, as I made my way to the Periodical Room–scrolls of newspapers– old men–half-glasses, canes,wondering why that man was praying over an Anchorage Times–the room smelled like sweat, vaguely urinous–reading a rag– a waiting room for death…

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*first published at The Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene, 12/18/14 .

Doug Holder

Doug Holder

-Doug Holder is a Boston Poet and publishes the widely read Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene Blog. He is the publisher of Ibbetson Books, hosts a community access show in Somerville, Mass. among the many activities he engages in the good name of poetry. http://dougholder.blogspot.com/