Kendra Steiner Editions: A Sampler of Reviews by Aleathia Drehmer

“Keepers of Silence” Luis Cuachtemoc Berriozabal 2007

Luis’ poetry endeavor comes via a grassroots chap published by Kendra Steiner Editions. This little book of eight poems is dedicated to Luis Omar Salinas, a poet transplanted from Texas to California. These works lend the reader to believe that LCB is having a wonderful imagined relationship with Salinas as if he stood beside him, Luis to Luis. This is an intimate collection that looks into the admiration of one poet to another.

“Salinas and Lord Byron”

I imagine his mind
is reaching for a line
only he could write:

something melancholy,
with a hint of magic,
and unforgettable.

Central California
has felt his brush and heard
his song in the groves.

He has some Lord Byron
in his veins, but I’m sure
he has never been to England.

“Rimbaud in the City: 10 Snapshots” by Glenn W. Cooper 2008

Traditionally, I am not one to read a book of poems completely entrenched with one idea or about a person as it leaves me cold most times, but Glenn W. Cooper captured my interest in this glancing of Rimbaud. He entertains what it might be like if Rimbaud were alive today, in this time. It impressed upon me that Cooper would have to transcend Rimbaud in an internal way to imagine him now. Each snapshot had me turning the page to the next one in anticipation to see where he would go next.

“Rimbaud picks up”

a hitchhiker on
highway 61 but
he’s not sure why
he’s not one for
small talk & doesn’t
need any company
for where he’s
going & they both
just sit there
with the radio
between them fading
in and out of blues
stations & no one
saying anything
there is nothing
to say or do
except listen to
Leadbelly & watch
the red dust swirling
in the cloudless
sky above them like
blood on a blue
blanket & suddenly
Rimbaud remembers why
he picked up the hiker
in the first place.

“Pulses of Time (creel pone sound study #7) by Bill Shute 2008

Bill Shute captures me now and again with his sound study series. This one in particular dazzled me with its word formations on the page, but more so than that was the regression of the book. It is a journey backwards from twelve hours to five minutes. Each block of time feels related yet not entirely connected. It gives the reader the opportunity to imagine what has happened in the hours not mentioned, trying to make that ephemeral linking of time.

“Eight Hours Ago”
dampened yet sizzling
electric blue icicles
at eye level

rock salt
and sand
at our feet
inside
the vacuum
of chill and drone
and melting strings
and empty stockings
and tomorrow

Kendra Steiner Editions
Django5722@yahoo.com
http://www.kendrasteinereditions.wordpress.com

Chapbooks are $4 each or 3 for $10 available while quantities last.

three reviews by Aleathia Drehmer

The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

This book is about two Cuban brothers who come to America in the time before Castro took over. When they came over it was not about “a better life”, but about new adventure and music and opportunity. These brothers were great musicians playing mambo, cha-cha-cha, boleros and any other form of Latin music of its time. We are talking 1940’s NYC Latin music scene. One brother is a macho….a man’s man, a ladies man and full of life and excitement. The other is a gallego which is reference to a man that would come from Spain, but also one with a great melancholy about him. So they were opposites.

This book is about the journey of Cuban music in NYC through the 1940’s to the 1960’s. It is about love and loss and great, heartbreaking longing. This story is filled with images of pastoral Cuba, of rich foods, and thick with Cuban terms and language that surprisingly does not take away from the book, because the author explains it all to you without detracting from the story. It is as if the brothers were telling you a tale of their lives. It is sensual with many scenes of lovemaking and the pure passion men and women have for each other without it being a trashy romance novel.

I found it to be enriching in Latin culture and I desired listening to the Afro-Cuban All Stars a lot while reading this book, because it felt good. I found myself wanting to eat rice and beans and thick pork chops and fried plantains. I wanted to dance about the room. I wanted to make passionate love to someone. I wanted to play the congas and sing at the top of my lungs. I wanted feel the sunshine on my face, but mostly, it made me long for my family. I want that feeling of having my clan together while eating and laughing and remembering the tales of our lives.

Sometimes it is hard to find a book with all of these things that is masterfully written so that the pages fly by until you have come to the end, weeping and clutching the book to your chest, wanting just a little bit more. This book takes you to another place and the joyousness of music and of life. Continue reading