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Saturday, March 17, 2012

NEW RELEASE: David Spiteri THE PREZ. Harper Collins Publications, Sydney, 2012.

If you are interested in knowing more about the rebel patch bike gang scene in Australia, especially during the 1970s and 1980s, David Spiteri’s book should be a real eye-opener. He has fictionalized events related to his involvement in the founding and leadership of a motorcycle club but the events described in the book are based on real experiences. Over the last couple of weeks, Spiteri has appeared extensively in the Australian media to promote his book. I first heard of The Prez this week when he was interviewed by Trevor Chappell on ABC Radio and I was greatly impressed by Spiteri's candour and tough-guy persona. You wouldn't mess with this guy!

The blurb from the publisher: Book Description
′This story is a true account of the birth of outlaw motorcycle clubs in Australia. There was no template for us, it just evolved. It shows our simple creed: loyalty to the club and respect for your brothers.′

David Spiteri was a founding member and long-time President of one of Australia′s first outlaw motorcycle clubs from its inception in the early 1960s through to the early 2000s. He has been uniquely placed to witness the clubs develop from loose affiliations of riders to the well structured and well connected groups we see today, with links to police, politicians and lawyers. In this never-before-told inside story, Spiteri puts himself at risk to reveal everything from the drug trafficking which funds the clubs′ operations to the extreme violence that continues to make them infamous. For the first time, the true extent of the clubs′ corruption will be exposed, and the treachery and subsequent retribution enforced by their own brand of law known as ′the code′ is brought to light. A truly shocking and compelling look at a fascinating subculture.

To its credit, the publisher Harper Collins has in the last couple of days posted close to 100 pages of Spiteri’s book online here: 
The first 2 or 3 pages of the book's 32 chapters are included. You will quickly develop an understanding and taste for the book's raw logic.

A 15 minute interview on ABC Radio Brisbane with Spiteri by Steve Austin can be found here:

This is an engaging interview with Spiteri but Austin obviously has not read the book and only makes one passing reference to it. He is more interested in pumping-up a discussion about Bikie culture to reinforce the in-built perspectives of his conservative audience. Spiteri reveals two real life incidents which have been incorporated into The Prez.

An ABC TV interview with Quentin Dempster can be found here:

This is short, fascinating interview in which Dempster asks Speteri some tough informed questions.

Breakfast, Monday April 16, 2012: Ross Solly interviews David Spiteri:

This is a more recent ABC Radio (Canberra) interview in which Spiteri discusses his personal fall-out with his motorcycle club since the publication of The Prez. After thirty-one years, he has handed in his colours and has donated his custom-made Harley to the club.

Buy the book here:
I scored my copy from K-Mart where it is widely available.

Find my Book Review here:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Charles Bukowski ABSENCE OF THE HERO: Uncollected Stories and Essays, Volume 2: 1946-1992. City Lights: San Francisco, 2010.

This volume of uncollected Bukowski stories and essays is not as substantial as Volume 1: Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook (2008) but full of gold for the Bukowski reader. David Calone’s introductory essay is erudite and demonstrates the serious tone in which Bukowski studies are now conducted. Calone provides a clear, concise overview of the context and personalities that Bukowski wrote about in many of the stories and articles which appear in this volume. He also reveals Bukowski’s deep links with the Beat writers and provides shrewd insights into the development of his writing style.

About a third of Absence of the Hero consists of reviews of books by Allen Ginsberg, Louis Zukofsky, essays on d.a. levy, Harry Norse, peace, the state of American poetry and reprints from his L.A. Free Press column Notes Of A Dirty Old Man. Probably the most appealing to me of his non-fiction writings, include ‘Manifesto: A Call For Our Own Critics’- an appeal to small press writers to develop their own language of criticism and ‘Bukowski On Bukowski’ in which he favourably reviews Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969): ‘Frankly I read my own stories in easy wonderment, forgetting who I was, almost almost, and I thought: Ummm, ummm, this son of a bitch can really write.’ In contrast, he says of reading his poetry, ‘Once I have written a poem and go back to it, I only get the sense of vomit and waste.’

Far more interesting are Bukowski’s short stories, particularly the longer ones which characteristically begin simply but branch out like cancers into other sub-strands of stories with unpredictable abandon and mayhem. The best short stories often fictionalise Bukowski’s life as a writer in his early 50s and include ‘East Hollywood: The New Paris’, ‘Vern’s Wife’, ‘The Gambler’, ‘The Cat In the Closet’, ‘The Ladies Man of East Hollywood’ and ‘The Big Dope Reading.’. The best short story in the collection is clearly ‘I Just Write Poetry So I Can Go To Bed With Girls’ which provides a deranged but affectionate portrait of Gregory Corso.

City Lights take their Bukowski uncollected stories and essays seriously and David Calonne has meticulously assembled and documented the two volumes of this series. Unlike a lot of the posthumous ECCO publications, this is essential reading for every Bukophile. 

See also my short review of Portions From a Wine-Stained Notebook here:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

BOOK REVIEW/ INTERVIEW: Lawrence Gladeview Just Ignore the Beer Stains (PigeonBike Press, London, Ontario, 2011)- 72 pages.

This is the first full-length collection of poetry by the 28 year-old Gladeview, who presently lives in Colorado with his wife Rebecca- who features in many of these poems. The 54 poems adopt a pared-down, lower case, minimalistic style highly reminiscent of the American poet John Yamrus. The poems are short narratives of less than 100 words and are characteristically geared towards making a dryly humorous personal or social observation about ordinary events- attending a funeral, visiting a chiropractor, ordering drinks, discussing poetry, picking up a hitchhiker and the like.

The PigeonBike Press typeface is bright and shiny and beautifully set-out. The cover includes a black & white cropped photo of a remote escarpment by the British photographer Leonne Bennett which evokes a raw, desolate feeling. In contrast, the title Just Ignore the Beer Stains is cheekily self-referential, asking the reader to ignore the poet’s ‘beer stains’, that is, his youthful imperfections- his purported romance with alcohol and the blemishes you might find in his early writings.

Most of the poems are written in first person from “Larry’s” point of view. The poems are often propelled by colloquial dialogue which reveal, through irony and understatement, the misunderstandings or quirky ways in which people attempt to communicate with each other. The collection is remarkably consistent in voice, subject matter and technique but a few of the poems stand out. Personal favourites include the terse car ad ‘Dad’s Classified’, ‘Thirsty & Forgetful’ about the speaker being asked to show his ID at a bar he has frequented for years, the metaphoric ‘Coming To Terms’ in which Larry likens his relationship to his woman to that of a cocker spaniel being dragged along a street, and ‘Poetry Needs To Be Natural’, in which the poet tongue-in-cheek expresses his poetics: ‘Poetry Needs To Be Natural/ not/ forced/ like the/ coat closet/ quickie/ before/ your auntie’s/ memorial.’

Overall, perhaps too many poems in the collection are about poetry or the writing process which creates the impression that Gladeview has lived thus far through the narrow prism of poetry rather than through hardened experience. As you read through his work you often sense the artifice, of Gladeview meta-fictionally mythologizing his relationship with his wife and his readers. And unlike Yamrus, don’t expect profound glimpses into the human condition. Gladeview is simply and unambiguously mapping out his first joyful steps of discovery. He has plenty of time to unbolt the veneer and express the misery and terror which awaits us all.

That said, it is certainly refreshing to read a new small-press poet who is not wallowing in a drug or alcoholic induced fog of self-loathing. Gladeview’s humour sometimes appears contrived but it can also be hugely appealing. And it is his candid, intimate tone which really makes this book sing.

An Interview with Lawrence Gladeview 27 February 2012

Bold Monkey: When did you first develop an interest in poetry and who were some of your early influences?

Lawrence Gladeview: I began to read poetry with the writing of Shel Silverstein. His poems share stories and characters through a genuine and humorous voice, something that I admire and influences my own writing.  My late college years were when I truly started to pay attention to poetry and began reading poets Yusef Komunyakaa, Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Charles Bukowski.  It wasn’t until a few years after college that I really put a pound of flesh into poetry, began to grow as a writer, and introduce myself to more underground poets like John Macker, Michael Adams, John Yamrus, Todd Moore; and gals like Ann Menebroker, Puma Perl, and Lyn Lifshin.

Bold Monkey: According to your web page: you started publishing your poetry in 2009. Can you briefly recount the events leading up to your decision to finally submit your work in 2009?

Gladeview: At the time I started submitting my writing to publications, I was sharing my poems with friends and workshopping pieces online.  From there it turned into mailing out poems in an SASE, submitting electronically, and posting pieces to my now defunct Righteous Rightings blog.  Over the past few years I have been very lucky to have my poems featured here and there in print and online, but the fire burns most when those rejection slips find their way into my mailbox and makes me punch the keys harder.

Bold Monkey: You graduated from James Madison University with a degree in English. I’m curious as to what you studied there, especially the texts, lessons and experiences which may have stimulated you to write.

Gladeview: Most of my study at James Madison focused on African American literary genres and Eastern European authors, although here and there I would have a Period American Poetry class or Writing Composition workshop.  But the single most explosive experience of my college years was attending the Furious Flower Poetry Conference held on campus in 2004.  The conference featured the most illuminating, contemporary African American voices in poetry including Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Gwendolyn Brooks among others.

Bold Monkey: I recall reading somewhere that you arrived late to ‘underground’ poetry. Why the interest and what magazines and writers first appealed to you and why?

Gladeview: Underground poetry has no rules, says something authentic, and above all makes the reader react.  Billy Collins reads up on a stage behind a pulpit using vocabulary no one understands to describe something that’s already been said. Meanwhile, Tony Moffeit is taking up at a local poetry reading wearing leather pants with a snakeskin belt, wielding a harmonica and singing the blues.  

Bold Monkey: There are thousands of magazines out there. What are a few that showcase the type of poetry you enjoy reading? What specific qualities do they have which draw you in?

Gladeview: PigeonBike, Epic Rites, and Lummox Press are three publishers that do a great job printing high quality writing from diverse poets and artists.  The time and dedication these guys put into their projects shows in the product; who wouldn’t want their poems featured in a publication like that?  Their authors are provocative and unapologetic, writing addictive poems and stories that deliver the goods on authentic human sentiment.

Bold Monkey: Can you discuss your initial involvement with PigeonBike Press and your subsequent dealings with the editor R.L. Raymond in the publication of Just Ignore the Beer Stains?

Gladeview: Rob approached me about possibly doing a book last summer and I immediately jumped on it.  I had been featured in a few PigeonBike magazines and was familiar with Rob’s commitment to print publishing and featuring the very best.  From then on we started to get together a manuscript of poems, paying close attention to order and trimming the fat.  By late November, Just Ignore The Beer Stains was available for purchase and the final product could not be more well constructed.  Rob never compromised in the process of putting out this collection and it shows.

Bold Monkey: I have read many of your earlier poems in which you adopt a wide range of forms and styles- some which are quite sophisticated and experimental. The obvious question is- Why do you adopt throughout Beer Stains a pared down, minimalistic style, highly reminiscent of John Yamrus’s?

Gladeview:  I have been writing for over five years now, and over that time I have been finding my voice and solidifying my identity as a writer, and that growth comes from pocket haikus, bourbon narratives, and travel lodge tales.  John has been a great supporter of my poetry the past year and has always been kind in offering his feedback and advice.  Just Ignore The Beer Stains is a collection of poems smart-ass in attitude, humorous in behavior, and aged in a bottle.

Bold Monkey: What’s next for you?

Gladeview:  I have a few poems selected for publication in PigeonBike and Epic Rites projects coming out this year that I am very excited about.  I also have a couple of readings planned around the Boulder and Longmont, Colorado area this spring and summer.

Bold Monkey: Lawrence, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and to let me enter your world.

Gladeview:  I just want to thank you again for your dedicated approach to this review, I cannot express my thanks enough.  Look forward to continued fantastic reading on Bold Monkey and will be sure to keep in touch! Cheers.
Buy Lawrence Gladeview’s book Just Ignore the Beer Stains at PigeonBike books here:

A list of Gladeview’s previous publications can be found on his impressive looking website- LAWRENCE GLADEVIEW: Barroom Raconteur, Cocksure Lover and Foul-Mouthed Poet:

A recent interview of Gladeview appeared in Horror Sleaze Trash here:

Lawrence Gladeview is co-editor of Media Virus. Check out issue #31: