Sunday, February 18, 2007

Steve Dalachinsky: The Final Nite & other poems

Reviewed by Alan Catlin

Alan does not know Steve. Not really personally anyway, but he has exchanged emails with him. Apparently they have never met. Maybe they should meet. Good poets should meet. Send Alan and Steve money to finance this meeting. Don't you want to support the arts; or, in this case, the Alans and Steves?

Alan, by the way, is a very good writer. Google him. You can email him at, provided you will not tell him he has won a Swedish lottery he never entered, or that you have twenty million dollars in Nigeria to invest but need his bank account to do it. Instead, you should send those emails to

Ugly Duckling Presse,, (distributed by Small Press Distributor's) ISBN 1-933254-15-17, 247 pages, 2006, $16.00

Jazz is the subject, permeates the sensibilities, the words, the poems/meditations in this substantial collection by NYC poet Steve Dalachinsky. This is a life's work, spanning twenty years of concerts in select small venues around the city listening to jazz artist Charles Gayle.

"I stand outside
on the edge of my shadow
at the edge of the doorway
& the nite is crying
small tears
for me"
(from "poem 1 7-12-89")

Pick a page, any page in this collection, and you will find highly impressionistic, personal reflections on the music and the man, that is the primary focus of this work. As the poems are unedited, they do not have the feeling of polished gem making, of something honed to perfection and thereby deprived of life. Instead they have an improvisational feeling, fresh as the music that inspired them. The poet is willing to take the risk of originality at the expense of Art; as he would say, "It's about the music."

"& he said on the 4th day-
he simply said "blue"
& little else followed
& all around him
things swam like the blue
as if
blue were a new thing
which it was
as was swimming"
(from "god 3 (addendum blue) melody")

If there is such a thing as an approximation of music in poetry, this would be poem, all the poems in this section, would be among the best examples of one art rendered in another form. In addition to the well over 240 pages of musical musings, six color paintings of Gayle in his element, are included with the text.

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