08 January 2021

Warren Dean Fulton reviews 70 Kippers

West Coast poet Warren Dean Fulton just posted a wonderful review of 70 Kippers on Facebook. I wish Michael could have seen it. Michael did get to see rob mclennan's fine review, which I'll link here and repost later. Warren kicks off an exquisite corpse reference, followed by the book's back-cover copy, and then gets into his review.

70 Kippers: The Dagmar Poems
Michael Dennis & Stuart Ross
(Proper Tales Press, 2020)

Reviewed by Warren Dean Fulton
"Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau."
("The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.")
70 Kippers
Two pals.
Two very different poets.
One kitchen table.
Several bottles of wine.
6 writing marathons over 3 years.
122 collaborative poems.
70 kippers.
A book of poetry.
An act of love.
Stuart Ross and his long time friend of 4 decades Michael Dennis, collectively composed the poems within this marvellous little book. A melding of minds, a vitamix fusion blender of whimsy, a swirling virtuoso circle of hybridization, resulting in this fishy gestalt creation, high in nourishing omega 3 fats.
Mayakovsky, Popeye, Raymond Carver, Bill Murray, Johnny Cash, Bukowski, Annette Funicello, Heidegger, Bobby the squirrel, Ginsberg & the gang from Riverdale, all make guest star appearances in these poems.
A revolving door into halls of mirrors.
But wait! There's more!
You’ll also have a sprinkling of some past presidents of the United States, Mickey Mouse, Frida Kahlo, Trotsky’s trousers, Red Skelton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jackson Pollock, Elvis, William S Burroughs, Wayne Newton, Dick Cheney, and such brilliant quotations as "I’ll have a mani-pedi and a Mork & Mindy”.
The collaborative process of these two very different writers spawned some weird and wonderfully diverse juxtapositions. Their camaraderie shines throughout the poems, and reading these aloud adds an even fuller appreciation of their affection for poetry and one another. Playful back & forth, thrusts of images, words, phrases, duelling spent Christmas wrapping-paper tubes playing Luke Skywalker & d’Artagnan. Some of these pieces swing seamlessly, an Abbott & Costello comedy routine of Dada poesy, presented to psychiatrist, others like elementary school one upmanship or double dares. 
A cloud resembling Yo-Yo Ma
got its trousers from Mayakovsky
It craved an audience, but
the Politburo said nyet to stifled boos.
“I eat my good armchair,” it howled,
chocking on fabric, spitting out nails.
A river resembling the cloud
flowed through the veins of his uncle
Tom’s cabin, nestled beneath a cliff.
Not the Cliff of despair, but the other one,
the happy cliff! Soon the samizdat
told us the news. Free balloons were coming
to free the balloons that were trapped.
We were all very happy about that.
Our country was shaped like a tutu. 
It was time for the rain to stop
and for day to switch places with night.
They’d done it before.
The arsonist loves the flame,
the olive loves the martini
but ends up swallow just the same.
Back in the caveman days
when the bats left their caves
the cavemen looked for the bats’ diaries.
Cavemen hated when bats hid
their innermost thoughts,
dreamed sonar futures
and invented the wheel.
My webbed fingers ached in the rain. 
I’ve read through the book cover to cover once already, laughing here, groaning at times, doing a silent uh huh when a line really rang true, also some moments of grief as Michael Dennis has just passed away December 31, 2020, and within are some clues to thoughts of mortality.
Some of these poems, to me, read like Buddhist koans, challenging me to meditate, to think upon them, unravel hidden truths tied up like knotted shoelaces.  
In another country no one would complain
about the conditions under which dogs
dreamed like cats, saved like squirrels,
barked like llamas, under the billowing
animal cracker cloud sky.
Things couldn’t be better
or worse, he complained. 
he wanted truth and hope
this is how delusional he was
he still believed he had a chance
he built a ladder so tall
the last person he sent up hadn’t come down
and when the drapes fluttered open
a red cardinal smashed into the glass
the sky went black 
I highly recommend this book. 
I also advise one to conduct a collaborative poetic experience over a bottle or two of red wine with a close friend.
If I were to give it a Siskel and Ebert rating, it would be

Over and out. 


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