DANCING ON MAIN STREET

Lorenzo Thomas, Author . Coffee House $15 (130p) ISBN 978-1-56689-156-1

"Listen. This is modern times all over the world."This caustically modern, enticingly various and ironically titled collection is a very welcome major release from a poet and critic who too often has flown under the publishing radar. Once an East Coast poet affiliated with the Black Arts Movement, Thomas is now a professor at the University of Houston-Downtown. His debut Chances Are Few has just been reissued; this new book mixes "voices blending into stridency" with the icily affirmative attitudes of maturity, which he takes as one of his subjects: "The world has changed/ Manners your elders strapped you into/ Somehow have come unraveled in your hands." Other poems concern the war in Vietnam, the history of the blues, the sights of East Texas, the structure of an extended family, public events (like the Amadou Diallo shooting) and, in one realistic series, marriage, love and sex. Casual, conversational lines combine the wide-open feel of the later New York School with Albert Ayler–like confident, architectural disharmonies in which "[t]he form of artifice destroys itself." Luckily, Thomas has kept records. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
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