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In his new & selected Fellow Survivors Al Maginnes is a poet summing up. Early on in this radiant collection (in the poem “Thirty Years of Teaching. No Sabbatical”) we hear: “In the end / there will be a roster / of things undone, but somewhere / someone might recall an afternoon when / I said something I had not known / until I said it, a twist of thought / that became true when words found it.” Allen Ginsberg, John Clellon Holmes, Charles Bukowski and others make appearances, as if the narrative of a life is nothing if not peopled by a sky of personality-stars whose work infiltrates Maginnes’ great storytelling. And there is always his reaction to “the infinite stories that go on / being told for the love of their telling,” as in this set of lines from “Salt, Fire, What Comes After”: “…what followed / and what lay ahead, waiting for another taste / of the salt-rich blood, the tears I bore / into this world I could not vanish from or flee.” The guy’s a rocker. Someone I trust the way I’ve trusted others who earned that designation the way you earn your face: one line at a time with always one more at the margins. So many favorites in this generous, high-spirited volume, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t single out “Elegy With Clifford Brown Playing Trumpet”—"the body held fast inside / the skin of the moment.”
—A finalist for the Miller Williams prize, Roy Bentley has published ten books of poetry. His latest collection, Beautiful Plenty, is available from Main Street Rag.
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