TRee Logo

Elliot Richman:

Asylum Arts
PO Box 6203
Santa Maria CA, 93456

110 pp., $9.95

Richman's many voices--dark eroticist, Vietnam testifier, visceral viewer of art and the adumbrations of irony--come scattershot from his small press exposures and in more unified rushes from chapbooks like "Fucking in Stupid Hope: Love Poems for the Death of the '80's" (Slipstream: Niagra Falls 1989). But not 'til THE WORLD DANCER from Asylum Arts, a press committed to risky material, do we get Richman whole. Unlike some fragments, he's no hellbent macho cynical kicker against the pricks, but a compassionate comprehender of, though never apologist for, human inconsistency. His vision--less the self annihilating gaze of Van Gogh or Hemingway, who become his croney-doppelgangers in these poems, and more the consummate witness to edges of art, love and loneliness--is more like the swordlike zen brushwork he honors and emulates:

     ...My features are painted
     on that octopus in the print by Hokusai,
     tentacles wrapped 'round Katrina's naked body,
     my giant head fused between her thighs,
     enormous black pupils scanning her skin
     as she swoons in pleasure, holding tightly
     to one of my suckered arms, the cruelty
     gone from her features, so lost in sex.        
                 (from "The Portrait of a Poet")

Here's complex, violent art coming into a maturity that will take us to new places, and help make sense of some of the hardest old ones.--Steve Fried

Back to TapRoot Reviews homepage.

This review originally appeared in TapRoot Reviews #5,
Copyright Burning Press 1994, 1996.

Contact the editor, luigi-bob drake, at Burning Press