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spacer.gif   MYSTICAL PEN: LARRY O. DEAN
Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 10:11 PM
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Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .
IDENTITY THEFT FOR DUMMIES
poems by Larry O. Dean
Zenith Beast Books
Reviewed by C. J. Laity


Larry O. Dean The wonderful thing about the time in which we live is that anyone can publish a book of poetry. All you need is a computer and a few bucks to make photocopies, fold it, put it all together between your favorite color of card stock, staple it, and presto! you've got yourself a book. Being Chicago's best known poetry critic, I get a lot of these do-it-yourselfers. I must admit, often times these cheaply made, self-published chapbooks represent the abundance of crap which exists, the shit nobody else on the face of the earth will touch (well, maybe Poetry.com, for a fee) except the author him/herself. I can recall thinking more than once how some such poetry wasn't worth the paper is was printed on.

There are those rare times, however, when I discover the words in the photocopied pages are delightfully profound. Many times talented poets choose the chapbook form of communication to get their words out, in hopes of being discovered by larger presses. It's a good, cheap way to put your poetry into the hands of another. I want to tell you about one of these gems in the rough.

The book I'm referring to is called "iDENTiTY THEfT for DUMMiES" and it is written by musician / poet Larry O. Dean (photo). You might have caught Larry O. Dean in any number of ChicagoPoetry.com sponsored events, or at his shows such as Folk You at coffee houses and cabarets. But did you know he has a very talented mind for the written word as well?

In Larry O. Dean's poetry, life is presented in all its simplicity. He looks at moments of the ordinary (often macabre in nature) and takes word snapshots of them, but with a light tone contrasting to the grotesque subject matter.

Palsied liver; pancreas
thinned like walls
in a fleabag motel?


(from AUTOPSY)

I'm convinced Larry O. Dean is obsessed with the ordinary:

I need the ordinary to live,
not excitement; excitement
is a lie . . .


(from PROSAIC)

You might think "the ordinary" would be boring. No. This Chicago poet sees the ordinary as if through a kaleidoscope, panning his word camera around so that what is in the background serves in stark contrast to the narrator's object of focus, such as his panoramic view of a car wash near Cabrini Green. Larry O. Dean totally releases himself, surrendering to Freudian slips; for some reason I am tempted to compare his work to a surfer riding a typo as if on a wave--with humorous, unexpected, sometimes enjoyably morbid results: wordplay.

See how he describes something as common as a broken down old refrigerator:

Ukrainian repairmen
wheeled its carcass
out of my kitchen,


Larry O. Dean relishes the usual, gets complete enjoyment out of the mundane, the rituals life deals him, looks trivial hardship in the eyes, puts on his coat and makes Winter his favorite month. He clips the white noise from the scene and presents it with bizarre fury.

Take, for example, how he describes a woman's makeup:

parroting hairy spiders'
legs, and converting eyelids
into candy-colored bruises.


(from THE INDEPENDENT BEAUTY CONSULTANT AGREES . . .)

In doing all of this, Larry O. Dean's writing style serves not only as witness but becomes inventive voyeur as well, as he invites you to steal his identity, to look through his eyes, to spy the world the way he sees it.

Like this chapbook, I'll be short and sweet. This is a cool book of poetry. I recommend it.

--C. J. Laity

**We hope you found the information on this page useful. ChicagoPoetry.com needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help:
Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by ChicagoPoetry.com Press.




Note: I want to tell you about one of these gems in the rough.

The book I'm referring to is called "iDENTiTY THEfT for DUMMiES" and it is written by musician / poet Larry O. Dean

 
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