Michael Rothenberg



Red Car Goes By: Selected Poems 1955-2000, by Jack Collom

I have never written a book review. This is probably not a book review. But I have to say something about Jack Collom's new book, Red Car Goes By, Selected Poems 1955-2000. Enormous, essential, friendly, inspiring, sincere, relentless.

The Miracle of Talk

          Have you ever thought about
                     the miracle of talk?

                     walk down street

           lady on porch

          shouts through door


                    "ARE YOU IN THERE, EARL?"


I have been a fan of Jack Collom from the very first day I met him at Jack Kerouac School for Disembodied Poetics about 15 years ago. Humor, generosity, intelligence are everywhere in Collom's person. And Poetry. Ecologist, teacher, yodeler, there's nothing predictable here. From Laurence Sterne to Robert Johnson, Theodore Roethke to Charles Darwin, or John Keats with multiple-personality disorder, Jack Collom says and understands: "Variety is a context in which credibility has to be re-established at every point." (from Editor's Preface).


Crazy writings on the mottled, lighted sky,
Romantic slate, are trees, bare, ruined choirs
Perhaps but also branch essentials. Why
Question their configures, their live wires

To us all, this morning? Sheer potential
Holds the sky in fragments- actualized
In rough, black bark. Eftsoons torrential
Sap will climb, and all be notarized.

Before I rose I spotted out my skylight,
By chance of space, just cast in arms of sumac,
Star-triangle marked on morning twilight,
Attenuate, a turn I took as runic.

It's not the thinness, much, that makes it "mine";
It's more the variation (angle, line).

Sensitive and precise. It took five editors/poets (?) to put this book together, to give us a peek at Collom's lush universe, and every selection is a miraculous choice informed by an understanding of what Collom tells us himself:

          (for Clark Coolidge)

people only want you to surprise them certain ways


I believe that.

Hold on to your compass and let Collom show you just how many ways you can be surprised. Red Car Goes By is like falling in love again. Get this book very fast! (Thank you, Jack!)

Red Car Goes By: Selected Poems 1955-2000 by Jack Collom (edited Reed Bye, Clark Coolidge, Larry Fagin, Merrill Gilfillan and Lyn Hejinian). Tuumba Press, 514 pp. $15. Order from Small Press Distribution: http://www.spdbooks.org/.

Links to Jack Collom at Big Bridge

Feature Chapbook: Volume 1, Issue 2
Slice Poems by Jack Collom

Poems: Volume 2, Issuer 2

Bio w/ Photo: