Monday, August 28, 2006

Dreaming at the gates of fury

A Clear Voice on Love and Politics in Our Time

Dreaming at the Gates of Fury:
New and Selected Poems
By Alexander Taylor
Paperback, September 2006, 104 pages, $13.00
Azul Editions

Azul Editions
2013 Park Road, NW
Washington, DC 20010

The poems in Dreaming at the Gates of Fury: New and Selected Poems span 50 years, from the height of the Civil Rights movement to the invasion of Iraq, and reflect the author’s involvement in social protest and anti-war movements.

The poems range in tone from the satiric to the celebratory. There is a touch of Catullus in the sixties poems, where Taylor observes characters struggling for personal liberation from stifling conventions, and a savage but comic irony in such political poems as “President Reagan’s Song.” Some of these poems, such as “Walking,” also dramatize the struggles of the wayward heart in a voice that is sometimes romantic but never sentimental so that the reader knows that the emotions are earned. In fact, the voice in these poems abhors sentimentality and the “easy fixes” offered by popular commercial culture, as in the final poem, “Is Something Missing?”:

I must have lived my life all wrong,
never having had any grief counselors
or psychologists to comfort me on every move—
Imagine! —I endured the death of my friend
all by myself and for me every new town
was a great adventure. Maybe that’s why
I seldom cry at movies and am always ready
to kiss death on the mouth.

Whether conversational, satiric or elegiac, these poems communicate in a direct and clear language a lived life struggling to fully realize its humanity by fighting for the humanity of others. Taylor's voice is indeed a rare voice today when so much poetry merely spins its chariot wheels in the ditch of self-absorption.

Dreaming at the Gates of Fury can be ordered from Azul Editions or Curbstone Press at


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