Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Lost Fire Brigade by Spike Hawkins

Fulcrum Press London/Horizon Press USA, 1968. I know, 1968... But if I am allowed to suggest books, especially poetry books, this one is always going to be on the list. This is an Awesome Book. And it allows me to use the word curio, because it is also an out of print and very strange book (I don't feel too guilty listing it, though, because there seem to always be a few used copies hanging around Amazon, and these books need homes). Spike Hawkins is a very funny, very poignant, very odd British poet who came out of the late 60's hippy movement in Liverpool and he released this book, and then another collection of mostly the same poems in 2001 which came with a recording of him reading the poems aloud (250 Grams of Poetry), but really you don't need to hear him. He is quite loud enough in this work.

I turn to Hawkins every year. Literally every year. Every time I get annoyed by poetry, or feel like it's too pretentious or too ivory colored or too whatever, Hawkins saves me. He's my poetic-antiseptic, something that cleans everything away and steadies me to get back to it. In fact, I tend to open any reading I give with a poem of his; it... cleans the air. I would say more about his actual poems... but they are rather tough to talk about, so I'll quote two. I guess to say something at all, Hawkins poems are the truest of poems, because they simply can't be anything else. I guess that's enough. But first, here is the logic test that one of the book's reviewers created, so you can see if this is for you:
  1. Most of the people who most love the work of Spike Hawkins are poets.
  2. You are mostly a poet.
  3. You should mostly love most of the work of Spike Hawkins most.
And now for two poems.

It is friday
I clean my rifle
and wait for the bean train
This last one is spectacularly good, and reminds me that poets can write jokes sometimes.
small spell for turning people inside out

My back!
I'm back!
Please read this awesome, awesome book.

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