GO HERE for more poems, etc – WRITINGS OF DEAN BAKER
Those who don’t buy my books have Van Gogh’s ear for music
In the face of an ever diminishing interest in one of the oldest arts, poetry, this book serves as an introduction why that interest should be revived in schools and individuals: illustrating the loss that accrues by not doing so, and the benefits to society through a passionate involvement in the poetic arts. Poetry has been an essential art in history and is in danger of being trivialized into extinction. Several seminal events in recent literary history are detailed in illustrating how poetry is not merely an adjunct to history and culture but can elucidate, influence and in changing perspective alter those same events and deeds. Find out more in this treatise more sociologically descriptive than academically oriented.
“Invaluable teaching tool that makes poetry enjoyably accessible while making the art of poetry relevant to all our times and ages.”
Dean J. Baker is an author of more than 20 books. Composer, performer, and songwriter published in prestigious literary journals worldwide since 1973.
Born in Toronto, Canada, to a Ukrainian/Polish father and an Irish/Scottish mother. Attended the University of Guelph, and later won their book awards, 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. Member of Socan (Society of Authors, Composers, Publishers) he has played guitar, bass, and piano in many bands and is writing more songs. Author of The Herald(2010), and Baker’s Bad Boys(2010), published by Mad Poet Press. His most recent works are Silence Louder Than A Train, The Mythologies Of Love, The Lost Neighborhood, an expanded and revised Baker’s Bad Boys(2014-satiric stories of childhood), Dark Earth, Of Flesh Sculptures And Abandoned Love, The Eschatological Dog, Measuring Gravity By Grace (Poems 1970-1980, Vol.1), Our Geographies (Poems 1970-1980, Vol.2), The Transits Of Revelation, Fat Albert’s Outpatient Folk Clinic, The Moon Worn Tides Vol. 1, Poetry & How It Gets That Way, In Riparian Fields, Tormenting The Monkey, Provenances And Paroles, Cousin Harold’s Adventures In The Real World, The Poetry Hotel, The Lost Canadian, Early Selected Poems, Vol. 1, The Lost Canadian, Poems Selected, Vol. 2., Blood Upon The Moon, Soliloquies Of The Horizons.
His awards include universities’ awards, along with several unsolicited Arts Council awards; best poems published in a year in literary journals, edited two books of Governor General’s Award winner Joe Rosenblatt, and The T.S. Eliot Society of Miami’s Calendar Poet award.
He has traveled solo through Canada, the USA, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece. Dean J. Baker’s works show a highly disciplined, passionate and informed uniqueness. He brings to his craft a very widely read mind, fully intimate with all the great literature of the past along with a similar awareness of today’s writers.
“Dean is a combination of thought and torment that has made him write more than a baker’s dozen of fine poems.. he might produce a collection that could astound us all.” – Irving Layton, (“Canada’s greatest poet”-Leonard Cohen), nominated twice for the Nobel Prize for Literature. http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/ https://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM
104 pages, $15.99
What are people talking about. Everywhere I go they whisper.
They stick their eyes at me, right at the base of the breastbone,
when I’m not looking.
The breastbone seems flat, pointed like a dagger to the top
of my stomach.
O, my stomach, my stomach… when the knife rips you open
it will find coffee and four strips of bacon, pieces of chewed
beard and a handwritten note saying I have left town forever
– excerpt from his brilliant work, Lies, 1972 and from A Long Continual Argument, The Selected Poems of John Newlove
John was a friend of mine – yet I had only said hello back him when I heard him read this live one time at York University. I’d been searching for the room in which the reading was to be held, and came around a corner to come face-to-face with him, and Joe Rosenblatt.
The mothership: http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com
Nothing more than abstract ornament,
explanations and discussions
keeping us to ourselves; we were
too petty for anything else. God
and Spirit, man and God again: no
insight into the common denominators.
Stupidity categorized the crews
taking over. In Canada, one was
reduced to waiting; at best,
you sent yourself notes (not poems)
hoping they would stay closed, or
fall open revealing all upon arrival.
You are lost either way. Death
enters your life: a troubadour
strolling through the provincial town.
Each gesture of government singing
the unwanted guest to bed, who is
finishing the last bite of food.
One brought no plans for conversation,
issuing invitations in the dark
he slips from his clothes. The livery
stark amusement, leaving only the arc
of a streetlamp which constellates:
the hard vistas of distant expectation.
all my books on sale – http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM
alternatively, direct from CreateSpace – https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/all-print-books-links/
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:
The Carleton Literary Review
The Prairie Journal
Rune …………………as well as many others.
Both volumes over 100 pages, only $10.99 each, with the ebooks only $5.99 each
“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
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.
now posting here – https://socialecologies.wordpress.com/
Dark Earth, is available here –> https://www.createspace.com/4904836 and 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.”