Heroin Haikus

American writer William Wantling only hit my radar a few years ago. His poem Poetry was an absolute soul opener for me. Amazed how the violence of a dying man could be reported as a poem, a piece of art, without diminishing the sadness or respect for this loss of life. Told myself this is someone you need to get into. Wantling died of heart failure at 40 back in the 70’s and never really received the exposure and respect that the likes of his peers got back in the 60’s. He did have a real presence with more independent underground publishers and those in their cliques. It is still the case today with independent publishers Tangerine Press. They popped works by Wantling a few years back which are still available via their website.

heroinThis compact piece of poetic history, Heroin Haikus, was released in October. It sits on my desk and has been picked up many times, by many hands, starting the ‘never heard of him’ conversations. Not really traditional Haikus, they have an air of close enough, his poems are loose and direct, that is standout here. Ten succinct pauses, seventeen syllables, maybe a word game to relieve the boredom and diminish the pain of being trapped, coping with life inside. These haikus of broken rules say so much.

I love its emptiness and the original drawings by Ben Tibbs, the inked cockroach, a fish eye view of busting cops, holding a gun like a limp dick in his hand, Wantling’s mind detached. This realism is repeated in his larger pieces and there are collections that you will find on Tangerine Press’s website if you want to explore more. Heroin Haiku’s is printed on good quality cream stock in piercing black ink. It can take you a minute or an hour to read, depending on how much you want to see into it. It is a fine addition to my poetry shelf.

 

 

 

Poetry Reviews Tangerine Press

The Glue Ponys by Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson strikes me as an observer, someone you can sit with in a room and hardly know he’s there. There is a comfort that some individuals just have. A story sponge that find themselves right in the thick of life. Excess, this and that, booze blood and needles but still have the faculties to recall and the imagination to retell the stories on their road. Looks like Chris’ path was a hard one at times, but I also get a feeling it is one that he would never change. How could you when you have a collection of tales like this under your belt. The Glue Ponys travels various timezones and hangs out with the wasted, troubled lifers, loners and drug dealers that join him in the bliss of being somewhere else but here. Amalgams and just plain scary real, these dangerous journeys can take their toll. Early death is a usual outcome, but to give it all away for a more serene existence is freaking hard. One where you ain’t stealing or becoming a living, breathing mind waster. Where personal drama is the only thing you have to make you feel alive cause you are so dead inside. For Chris Wilson, long prison stints broke the habit. Inside he found philosophy and a myriad of stories. It’s the combination of this that makes this collection of short stories so tantalising. gle-ponyA real understanding of the characters motivations. The Glue Ponys sums up addiction, the seedy side. There is a desperation and defiance with many of his characters, a kind of I’ve had enough, save me scenario. Not in a finding god way, just peace away from the inner torture. A different direction is a brave move. Chris found better ways to waste his time that has benefits for us all. The sheer beauty and raw style that is his voice inside these pages. Chris has an extraordinary talent to be the voice of those he writes about. Part ‘it was told to me and this is what they saw’ and part ‘I was there and this is what I saw’. Characters like The Lieutenant who makes himself a god in his own lil kingdom of depravity and abuse, a Kurtz-like druglord on a bed of his own apocalypse. The Pugilist, when a spades partner doesn’t want to play the life game anymore, the carrion swarm in quick. Trying to disassociate yourself from your actions, where a timespan of events leads to freaky scenes and tragic outcomes is a constant in these short stories. Searching for “holes in the links”, thinking about his own great escape. The prose moves easy, stark and in it’s own way very poetic. Sex and age is no barrier to pain, these are stories of the lost and desperate. This book, like his art, are figures that transform into a blurry mash of ghosts that intrigue in their solitude, disturbed auras and beauty. This artist has captured me this month. I look forward to exploring more. You can purchase The Glue Ponys here and can contact Chris via Tangerine Press’ website or via twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review Chris Wilson Tangerine Press