||March 1, 2008
It's poetry, folks. It's about life and death and all that goes on in between.
A comprehensive view of the poetry of RD Armstrong aka Raindog. Volume one contains 184 poems and includes poems from The San Pedro Poems,Paper Heart and Bone, as well as many previously unublished poems.
Playing Mumbly-Peg with Carmen and Eddie
While fat drops of rain
Announce the beginning of Spring
The carving knife vibrates like a tuning fork
the kitchen floor is a sea of tiny incisions.
Review by B. L. Kennedy
This is a handsome collection of poetry by one of California’s most prolific writers of poetry. Having known RD Armstrong mainly through e-mail, it wasn’t until a few months ago at Luna’s Café that I had the opportunity to actually meet the poet.
Upon dipping into Fire and Rain, I could not help but take note of the quality of this collection: the quality of the poems and the clear writing style that the reader is offered with this book. Armstrong is ever the social critic, and the 185 poems included in this manuscript are a testament to his original vision. Working from the sweat of life, Armstrong is a talent that plants itself in your mind with his rough-and-ready voice of delicate lyric and refined narrative. He is a poet who does not creep from behind but is full-frontal in his twist of a line and his blue-collar sensibilities. To not recommend the work of RD Armstrong to new readers would be sinful and sad, because here is a poet with a voice that will challenge even the most hard-ass critics of poetry.
So don’t be afraid to purchase a copy of Fire and Rain: Selected Poems 1993-2007 and explore the words of this well-grounded writer.
B. L. Kennedy
Review by Hugh Fox
A strong, powerful sense of things coming to an end here. Armstrong-philosopher-poet still tells it the way it is, but keeps getting deeper and deeper, fuller of a feeling of final termination. And Armstrong’s most recent work gets further and further into meditative-religious contexts that really get to the reader:
“I thought/of suicide/until I/remember/ed the taste/of fruit//The sound/of Buddha’s/voice lingers/in the ring/ing of the bell//Death comes when hope/has faded/beyond/memory//The blanket/of dreams/wraps us up/and carries us/away.” (“Four Short Poems,” 152.)
It’s fun to watch him get experimentally philosophical and still hang on to an undercurrent of hard realism, which makes his work more powerful than ever, the combination of poetic artiness and a vision of the bitter, evaporating Now:
“Eyes//like flint/like flecks of coal/like shiny bits of starless sky/trapped in the ruins of a slag heap/Eyes// like molten steel/sullen and angry/piercing--a bullet finding its mark/like a jaguar/passionate and alive.....” (“Eyes Like Mingus (For Steve Fowler),” p.133.
Part of the Bukowskian-Winans heritage, Armstrong is a powerful blend of urban reality, aging and high art that he never allows to take over and blur his messages.
Short Review by Steve Goldman
In this era of burgeoning social dysfunction, and its transitive residue on the person, through world, state, economics, religion, family, relationship and god knows whatever the hell else, autobiographical (not confessional) poetry is of paramount importance. At its best, it bears personal witness to all these things, declares supporting solidarity with others, and in the spirit of hope, points to salvation.
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