Two important companion books by Dean J. Baker – The Lost Canadian Vol.1, and The Lost Canadian Vol. 2

Two important companion books by Dean J. Baker

The Lost Canadian, Early Selected Poems, Vol.1 and The Lost Canadian, Poems Selected, Vol.2.

Both volumes feature some poems which have been published in Canadian literary journals, and in literary journals in the USA and Europe.
Some of the literary magazines which published selected poems are:

Waves

Jewish Dialog

Descant

Northern Light

Canadian Review

The Carleton Literary Review

The Prairie Journal

FreeLance

Nexus

Rune …………………as well as many others.

LITERARY PUBLICATIONS

BIOGRAPHY

Review of DARK EARTH

 

 

 

 

©Dean J. Baker

http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

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Review of DARK EARTH by Dean J. Baker


Posted by Craig Hickman in Book Reviews, poetry

“I keep walking, making calls which few recognize, eventually sure that one day when I have passed that way, suddenly a porch light will shine in the evening and another timelessness reign.”

Dark Earth, Dean J. Baker

Been reading Dean J. Baker’s latest offering of poems of late, Dark Earth. Of course Dean is an author, composer, and performer who was born in Toronto, Canada, to a Ukrainian/Polish father and an Irish/Scottish mother. Attended the University of Guelph, and later won book awards from them, along with several unsolicited Ontario Arts Council awards, best poems published in a year in literary journals, and The T.S. Eliot Society of Miami’s Calendar Poet award. He has several other works out: Baker’s Bad Boys, Silence Louder Than A Train, The Mythologies Of Love, and The Lost Neighborhood each of which can also be found on his amazon.com page.

What struck me intensely about Dean’s poetry is this sense of earthiness and despair tinged with a dark humor that I so love. An ongoing walk through these dark times is an underlying expectation, an almost uncanny movement toward hope; yet, not hope itself, rather it’s a sort of orientation to the future or forward looking gaze that can almost see between barbed wired clouds on the darkest horizon something strange almost shining through only to be sealed off immediately by the Reality Police who trap us in this bleak corner of the universe. Now by this I don’t mean that Dean is some kind of blipping optimist, no he’s a pessimist or realist like most of us. No that would make things a little to easy and rosy, and Dean is more of a bleak and transgressive churning below the muddy waters. He lives down where the alligators and moccasins move in those black ponds, waiting, harboring nothing but deadly thoughts. Dean’s world is to poetry what David Goodis in Street of No Return is to noir. In that bleak book the main character loses the girl, kills the villain, returns to skid row with a bottle under his arm for the boys in the cold wet sunless streets, where life is nothing but this hollow gesture, a desperateness toward the last dark weave of things: where losers sit in some dark alley passing the bottle around, and nothing could touch them nothing at all.

But then again what does touch us is Dean’s poetry, and it touches us hard and quick like some dark message out of hell; but this is no metaphysical charade – it is our hell, our lives in this god forsaken universe where the thought of salvation isn’t some dream of transcendence, but is rather a movement toward another order of indifference, another and hopeful purgatory across some bleak landscape beyond the lies and deceit of this one.

Do you not see how
they drive:
to meet the grinning, opened mouth.

In Dean’s Widows he challenges our sense of propriety, brings us two death’s: the death of child, and the death of something else. Even the use of the plural – Widows, as if one may suspect some murderous collusion amongst “black widows”; or, rather the natural order of some dip into Shakespeare’s widowed “witches” from Macbeth; or, more likely just three old mean women out of some southern gothic world who, as the interlocutor tells us – as if it were some dark and sinister story, to be hushed up in polite society – a memory of another child: “the unlovely child you always knew too much about”. And, the interlocutor continues with a double refrain, one that tells us these dark widows are “carrying themselves” and “carrying themselves / with taunts of Spring”. The interlocutor will not say what cannot be said, what it is that these widows have done, or what secrets they hold to their black hearts. But he knows, and for him there is a bittersweet revenge in knowing that what they are moving toward as “they drive” is a meeting with that “grinning, opened mouth” – a death at once comical and grotesque that will undo these murderous widows and their secrets in ways beyond telling.

This is the key to Dean’s art, the subtle narration of certain moments that are never revealed in the full natural disclosure of facts, but are rather revealed more subtly in the voicing of certain affective relations between memory and mind in this ongoing inquisition with the sordidness of our unlived lives. It’s as if in each poem we are seeing slices of a pain, a snapshot of horrors, a visitation of certain indelible blood-lettings that continue to keep the wound of life open to the world. For isn’t that truly all that remains? How many of your memories are of joy? Oh I don’t mean the picture memories you can snap out, I mean the affective memories that stick in the crawl of your thick mind like a bad taste in the mouth. How many?

Dean is a true comic poet as well, full of those sly interventions and evasions, slights of self, incriminations and elisions: “It is you, who have ruined / your life, / with the comparisons … elegies outworn: / embarrassing”. And, even the muse is a fickle mistress a tormentor “the muse still torments me every now and then”, and yet she’s a comical waif as well:

She thinks a psychiatrist / may do the trick: forgetting / she had a hand in the mess.

What I admire is Dean’s pulling out all the stops, no sublime romanticist here; no, instead he’s taken notes from the underbelly of those masters of the macabre and grotesque. All those little oddball peculiarities of the absurd, bizarre, macabre, depraved, degenerate, perverse that are the hallmark of the best of that dark haunting literature, both humorous and earthy, grotesque – can be found here. As Philip Thomson tells us of the grotesque in literature and visual culture: he calls it ‘the unresolved clash of incompatibles in work and response’ and, he continues, ‘it is significant that this clash is paralleled by the ambivalent nature of the abnormal as present in the grotesque’. I like to go back to Baudelaire who perfected this mode after his careful perusal and translations of that master, Edgar Allen Poe. For Baudelaire it was to know that one was dammed in this life from the beginning; but it wasn’t a religious knowledge, no it was a secular knowing that this world, not some future abode of despair already harbored enough hate and crime to fill ten thousands hells. Maybe this is why even Sartre would seek in Baudelaire a brother of that darker existential pain that is existence with others, and go on to see “hell is other people”.

One of my favorites of this mode from Dean’s work, and the last one I’ll quote (I want you to cherish a first reading of the rest for yourself) is “Queen St. East”

The jaw slacks, with the weight
of the body’s loss,
to an inexorable acknowledgement

The brain is unfettered
in its jug; spilling over
with the nostalgia of alcohol

Flat on their backs, near Moss
Park, curled fetus-like, the
inhabitants whirl in a static frenzy of

Enfeeblement, any amusement here
sublingual: the posthumous twitching
of cynics en masse

That, my friends, in one succinct movement is the Grotesque Sublime: “the posthumous twitching / of cynics en masse”. It is also the dark knowing of a grotesque humor named “Dean J. Baker”. Rabelais and Hieronymus Bosch look out of dark chinks in these poems… instead of Emerson’s “Whim” above Dean’s lintel we might assume “Melancholy” resides here… that dark brooding that laughs below, and rises through the bones to jerk you awake from your too lazy sleep of existence.

Please visit Dean J. Baker’s wordpress.com site: https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/
and his poetry can be found: http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM and https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/awards/all-print-books-links/

1. Edwards, Justin; Graulund, Rune (2013-05-29). Grotesque (The New Critical Idiom) (p. 3). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

http://darkecologies.com/2014/07/28/dark-earth-poetry-of-dean-j-baker/

now posting here – https://socialecologies.wordpress.com/

Dark Earth, is available here –>http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Earth-Dean-J-Baker/dp/150052591X

from review quotes of Dark Earth: “Dean is a true comic poet as well, full of those sly interventions and evasions, slights of self, incriminations and elisions.. He’s the kind of poet that gets under your skin and stays there like a song in some dark noir alley that sings to you of love and death suckled on good old home grown truth.”

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/awards/reviews/

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/awards/a-reason-why-you-need-to-own-dark-earth/

Meeting Gwen MacEwen, Marian Engel, Judith Merrill – introduced by Joe Rosenblatt

I was reminded the other day of meeting and getting to know some women writers whose work I admired.
Specifically, Gwen MacEwen, Marian Engel, and Judith Merrill.
I’ll be writing something of an autobiography at some point which will be inclusive of a lot of things and events, personally and professionally.

I was introduced to two of these writers through Joe Rosenblatt, and Gwen MacEwen.
(One thing about Gwen is she did a reading of the book whose photo you can see here, without the book, in its entirety at a place where earlier I saw Led Zeppelin – that size venue.)

One cold New Year’s day in Toronto, I headed over with Joe Joe (for whom I’d rewritten pages, and edited a few books of his) to Gwen’s apartment on St.George St. to meet up with her, and her wonderful cat, Dingbat.

Walking in the door, Gwen called me over to the living room where there were two women sitting on the couch. Little did I know.
Next thing I hear is Gwen saying, “This is the poet I’ve been telling you about.” And then she introduced me. Marian Engel! wrote that classic, Bear. Judith Merrill.
Marian Engel said, “Hi, Dean. So you’re the poet Gwen has been raving about, saying you’re great and brilliant.”

Now I’d been reading Gwen’s work for ages it seemed, and this was the first time we met. Mr. Joe had been telling her about me, my work – and she’d pestered him to bring me over. So I was taking in the first flush of meeting a poet whose work I loved, plus getting to meet Marian Engel, whose novella Bear I thought fantastic. And I was aware of Judith Merrill through the work of other science fiction writers, and the fact that at the time she lived just a block or so away on Spadina Road.

At this point, Judith said hello, and smiled. Likely anticipating Marian’s next statement.

Marian next said, “SO, say something brilliant and notable.”

Which I apparently did, to her satisfaction and Gwen’s and Judith’s, because we all started relaxing over coffee, etc.
What was said then and other times in more detail will be in the book… though there are various representations scattered throughout my poetry.

©Dean J. Baker

*note: Works of the writers that are a must read:

Dream Craters  +  The Voluptuous Gardener, etc etc etcJoe Rosenblatt

http://www.joerosenblatt.com/

Magic AnimalsGwen MacEwen

http://canpoetry.library.utoronto.ca/macewen/pub.htm

BearMarian Engel – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Engel

some of my work… http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

 

What Literature Means In Canada

 

 

 

 

 

For the longest time Alice Munro slips
under a steady but constant radar, her
great works a secret pleasure, while Harpo
Marx’s secret sister drones on about
the subjugation of women, men’s inadequacy –
a real peg in the hole of cuckoo theories,
while one that basically began the popularity
of Canadian Literature couldn’t get a Canada
Council grant from the committee of consensus,
though he taught Cohen, was worshipped
by Allen Ginsberg, looked towards
by W.C. Williams and his little red wagon/wheelbarrow,
honored in the USA, by Italy, betrayed
by the small bitch who claimed to do his
autobiography, another self-promoting deceiver
And Margaret L. drank a bottle away, as
another poet Egypt-bent could not get enough
food, passing away from a blown up kidney
Purdy almost included me in an early 70’s anthology,
a “sad mistake” not doing so he stated, while
my cards and letters from Musgrave, Acorn,
Newlove, MacEwen, and dozens of letters
from Layton, signed books from Ginsberg “to
a great poet” get tossed from storage
into garbage bags for the sake of less than
a thousand dollars – an entirety of literary
history abandoned and lost, almost another tradition

©Dean J. Baker

-excerpt from a published book

The books _——–>http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/look-poetry-how-it-gets-that-way-3-99/
DarkEarthTake some time to read these reviews…. ebook Dark Earth

print Dark Earth

“….Rabelais and Hieronymus Bosch look out of dark chinks in these poems… “

“..never have I experienced poems in this form, they get under your skin, and occupy your entire being . His mastery of putting the English language to work for him, to bring to life his thoughts and what he wants to project is amazing.”

“You can certainly become a poetry lover by reading Dark Earth..”

“Having read Dark Earth by Dean J Baker my first reaction is WOW. This was written for me. His poetry speaks to me deep down in my soul. The style of writing then the naming of the poems is so on target. A must read for poetry lovers AND all who just love to read.”

“That, my friends, in one succinct movement is the Grotesque Sublime: “the posthumous twitching / of cynics en masse”. ….Rabelais and Hieronymus Bosch look out of dark chinks in these poems… instead of Emerson’s “Whim” above Dean’s lintel we might assume “Melancholy” resides here… that dark brooding that laughs below, and rises through the bones to jerk you awake from your too lazy sleep of existence.”

https://kindlebooksbydeanjbaker.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/review-of-dark-earth-by-dean-j-baker/

©Dean J. Baker

https://www.facebook.com/DeanJBakerPoetAuthorComposer