Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips - Raymond Luczak (Squares & Rebels)

Today's book of poetry:
The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips. 
Raymond Luczak.  Squares & Rebels.  Minneapolis, Minnesota.  2016.

Today's book of poetry would like to welcome you all back.  Our entire staff has been away on various holidays and adventures but we are all back in our various saddles and excited to see what 2017 is going to bring.

2017 at Today's book of poetry is starting off with a firecracker of a collection that lives up to the promise of the glorious title.  The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips is written in the rarely used nonet form, nine lines and Bob is your uncle.  Luczak has forgone traditional rhyming schemes and instead gives us 82 love songs full of wonder all aimed in the direction of Walt Whitman, American poet/saint and author of Leaves of Grass.

Rayond Luczak is among a chorus of trailblazing LGBTQ and QDA poets who are changing our ways of seeing them and the world.  A lot has changed since old Walt laid down the law.  The timbre of these poems comes in fire engine red and firing on all cylinders.

The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips

Just like how some men like to compare their dicks,
he and I compare our beards. Though eight years older,
his beard is darker, thicker, dense. Amidst his prattle
about his favorite painters (Vermeer and Leonardo),
Corinthian columns, and Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth,
he peers closely at my beard: once a fiery red,
now a cropped ginger mellowing into ashy white.
I await the flame of question in his eyes.
My answer is ready: yes, you can fondle my beard.


The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips is part loving elegy, part eulogy, part love letter, part confessional, part sexual fantasy and more, but all of it tender, all of it like a warm and wanted embrace.

Raymond Luczak is an open door, these poems can't wait to welcome you into his conversation.

The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips

Leaves of Grass had initially sprouted out of the mish-
mash of pithy lines scribbled in financial ledgers.
You'd cut and pasted clippings from here and there.
You didn't know what to do with them at first;
only when you returned from a trip to New Orleans,
where you met a man whose name is lost to all but you,
did you at last see: O passion! O sweet love! O America!
The wanton filth you self-published was a pink grenade
detonating in an atomic cloud straight from the future.


This morning's read, the first of the new year, was a relaxed affair.  Milo, our head tech, has become a loquacious and dedicated reader so he led the charge.  One of Today's book of poetry's nieces has taken up residency in the Stuart Ross Poetry and Guest Room so she joined in for the mandatory reading.  If you stay under this roof you are forced to read poetry out loud, it is a law. 

You'd never guess to think it but The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips goes extremely well with Pharoah Sanders Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah (Jewels of Thought, 1969).  At least it did this morning.

The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips

Please rescue me from the sterility of America.
Everything's been shrink-wrapped and digitized.
I can't touch or feel anything real. Damnpissshitfuck.
It's all up here, not down here or there.
It's all commercials and franchises.
Even death has its own antiseptic soap dispenser.
Advertisers use sex as their biological weapon.
Demographics are a communal sport of saturation.
Christ! Just scrape the ISBN bar code off of my DNA.


Today's book of poetry wants to be gender aware and gender sensitive and writers live Raymond Luczak certainly help to broaden our participation in that particular conversation.  But for the purposes of Today's book of poetry this conversation would not be taking place if we didn't like the poems, period.

The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips is a hearty, lusty and loving romp.  Luczak steps across time for love and what could be more romantic than that.

Image result for photo raymond luczak

RAYMOND LUCZAK (pronounced with a silent "c") is perhaps best known for his books, films, and plays.

He was raised in Ironwood, a small mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Number seven in a family of nine children, he lost much of his hearing due to double pneumonia at the age of eight months.

After high school graduation, Luczak went on to Gallaudet University, in Washington, D.C., where he earned a B.A. in English, graduating magna cum laude. He learned American Sign Language (ASL) and became involved with the deaf community, and won numerous scholarships in recognition of his writing, including the Ritz-Paris Hemingway Scholarship. He took various writing courses at other schools in the area, which culminated in winning a place in the Jenny McKean Moore Fiction Workshop at the George Washington University.

In 1988, he moved to New York City. In short order, his play Snooty won first place in the New York Deaf Theater’s 1990 Samuel Edwards Deaf Playwrights Competition, and his essay "Notes of a Deaf Gay Writer" won acceptance as a cover story for Christopher Street magazine. Soon after Alyson Publications asked him to edit Eyes of Desire: A Deaf Gay & Lesbian Reader, which, after its appearance in June 1993, eventually won two Lambda Literary Award nominations (Best Lesbian and Gay Anthology, and Best Small Press Book). He hasn't stopped since!

In 2005, he relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he continues to write, edit, and publish.


“The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still on My Lips is an unabashed celebration of one man’s relationship to Walt Whitman: poet, publisher, lover, impromptu nurse, artistic creation, organism, man in full. Like Whitman himself, Raymond Luczak arrives at an unified vision of love in all of its poetic manifestations: sensual, sexual, and textual, a source of electric vistas and voluptuous possibilities of spiritual renewal. He provides precisely the kind of tender reassurance we cannot find words for some nights, but which we so desperately need.”
     —Eric Thomas Norris, co-author of Nocturnal Omissions

“In The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still on My Lips, Raymond Luczak has awoken entwined in the arms of the American bard. And here is the bed chat and letters from one poet to another, a communion of fleshly living. Luczak has created a work in the tradition of Ginsberg's odyssean dreaming of the lost America of love—a vibrant examination of what Whitman called a ‘richest fluency’ of historical gaiety and modern loving, and a clear transmission of honest affection across the ages.”
    —Dan Vera, author of Speaking Wiri Wiri

Here is the video trailer for Raymond Luczak's The Kiss Of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips.




Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

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