Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gary Lilley, Blues Poet

I had the good fortune to meet Gary Lilley in Chicago in the early "aughts" at Nina Corwin's and Al DeGenova's venue at Molly Malone's. After we both read during the open mic, we spoke kind words to one another about our work. Further discussion revealed that we shared a poet in our past who had influenced the way we both approached the line--Keith Wilson. That's a long story I'll leave for another time.

This is about Gary--an introduction to a terrific poet whose poems sound like part Stradivarius, part blues saxophone, and part southern gospel singer--successfully blending virtuosic craftmanship, blues soul, and moral import--something quite unique in the world of non-sequiter, non-consequencial assemblages of lines that sometimes pass for poetry today--until you hear the real thing. And Gary Lilley is the real thing! Listen (read aloud) the following opening poem to his second collection, The Subsequent Blues, and you'll hear what I mean:

Prelude To The Predicament

Ain't you the image, a part of the creator,
when you got love growing in the garden
ain't everything raised in its warmth,
asked the snake.

Thickets grew in the path,
air beneath the trees fouled
and birds shied to the sky.
Wolves howled behind
the red of their teeth,
vultures reversed their spiral
and discovered a taste for death.

Seeping fell like stones.

A saxophone wind, the first low notes,
wailed the story of troubles forever.
They ran, mouths wide open,
eyes pinpointed and seeing nothing
but ground moving backwards
under their flying feet.

Or, better yet, hear Gary read his own work, like "It's About the Ponies" on Youtube:

Even better yet, buy copies of his two books, Alpha Zulu and The Subsequent Blues, get a bottle of good bourbon (or not) and and spend an evening rearranging your head and rediscovering your heart. And, if you ever make it up to Port Townsend, Washington, find out where's he's reading and hear him in person.

In the mean time, I'm going to devote a few posts to his work. Stay tuned...these are just "the first low notes." More "wailing" and "stories of troubles" are a comin'.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trio House Press Opens Submissions for Two Contests Today!

I rarely write anything in this blog other than reviews of poetry. But I must take this space today to inform you of a new press that opens its submission period today for two full-length poetry book awards: Trio House Press. Formed by Tayve Neese with assistance from Dorinda Wegener and Lisa Sisler, this is a press that has done all the right things, and it hasn't even published its first book. From its final judges (Michael Waters and Ross Gay), its advisory board members (including, among others, Peter Campion and Ilya Kaminski), to its adherence to CLMP guidelines, Trio House is a class act.

I wholeheartedly recommend it for consideration for submitting your first or second book-manuscript. Here is their website, or you can click on the link below and to the right of this posting under "links" for all the details: