By Lynette G. Esposito
Beat poetry is defined as poetry that has no conventional form and which is unencumbered by conventional rules. The We Are Beat National Poetry Festival Anthology published by Local Gems, a small press in Long Island New York and edited by James P. Wagner (Ishwa) is a gem of 267 pages of delicious verse written by poets from many walks of life from firefighters to engineers to lawyers to teachers to spoken word artists both national and international. The poetry is as varied and interesting as the poets themselves.
The authors are presented alphabetically by authors’ last names. The poems proceed in no other order or credential and are standalone pieces of art. The authors’ credentials follow each poem. When the reader dives into this river of poetry, the water is very inviting all through the anthology. For example, on page 23.Carolyn Chatham presents We Will Drink From Broken Cups. The poem begins:
We will drink from broken cups
This bitter brew
A country scene of trees and cows and grass
and lads and lasses dallying together
adorn its rim
This is such a sweet scene but the poem twists to an explanation of climate change and unanswerable explanations of a world we slew.
On page 168, Juan Perez writes Eyes Closed and Dancing.
I close my eyes and I am dancing
At the senior prom, in 1987
With a smoking hot brunette
Things are great so far….
The sixty-six line ten-stanza poem details life after the amazing dance and the amazing life that follows. Perez uses images that are common to most readers, marriage children old age and the realization of mortality. He answers the question of what happens when we close our eyes and look back over our life when we are about to leave.
Ron Whitehead speaks of Shootin’Up Poetry in New Orleans on page 254. It is a narrative poem in prose form that successfully explores the loss of poetic inspiration and its successful return. It begins in Algiers and ends in The Howlin’ Wolf Club in New Orleans. The narrator laments I’m feeling burnt out, tired to the bone. The narrator calls on previous poets such as Jack Kerouac for help. When inspiration hits, the narrator says:
The word sets us free.
And I think of Allen Ginsberg
And what he said about taking someone’s hand
Cause we’re all in this together.
We’re pullin’. We ain’t pushin’
We’re lettin’ it be.
We realize that when one is lifted up
We’re all lifted up
And I realize that Poetry is life
And life is poetry
Outside the Howlin’ Wolf Club all is well. The 48 hour INSOMNIACATHON will go on and be a success. There is a full smilin’ moon in New Orleans. The intensity of the resolution leaves the reader with relief like finding your Rolex in the lost and found.
Many fresh voices from many different countries can be heard in this anthology. It is a pleasure to read.
Local Gems Poetry Press is a small Long Island, New York based poetry press. It has published over150 titles. Local Gems can be reached at www.localgemspoetrypress.com
Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review, Bindweed Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, That Literary Review, The Remembered Arts Journal, and other literary magazines.