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The Absence Of The Loved by Wade Stevenson Reviewed in Midwest Book Review

Absence of the Loved
Wade Stevenson
BlazeVOX Books
9781609642747, $16.00, www.blazevox.org 

Many poems and poetry collections focus on the presence of love, but Absence of the Loved is about that aftermath where love is gone, poetically describing the void left behind, the process of passing into something else, and what happens when transformation and change confront a relationship: "This morning we were born for something else".

Winter mornings, maddened minds, the compulsive drives of love and passion, and possession all coalesce in passionate, emotional pieces that grasp the essence of not a light romantic dream, but the agony and ecstasy of bonding with another both physically and emotionally.

From the throes of breakup and pain ("When I'm not grieving I trumpet destruction") to the inevitable progress towards a turning point where grief turns to renewal, Absence of the Loved is a poetic breakup diary like no other, chronicling the intimate passage of days and pain with the deft precision of a romantic martyr as the writer considers the absence of one with a 'penchant for parting'.

Again and again the times before departure are analyzed and probed, the impetus for change considered, and the faded spark of love from which the inevitability of leaving reviewed: "One day I will go so you will at last understand/This simplest of lessons: everything flows."

How long will loss last when "what we are is made of half of each other's wholeness"? It may not be a lifetime, but these moments are perfectly captured in a poetic gathering of experiences that intricately chronicles just what the process of and pain of letting go involves.

However, "The Absence of The Loved" is not just about loss. Although it starts that way, there is a progression, and fans of poetry will appreciate the various depths and nuances of feeling. In the end the poet transfigures his loss into a vibrant, radiant presence. The young woman that he loved becomes a symbol for "the loved". In the moving final poem "You and You Again", the circle is closed, there is no more absence --- what remains is Amor.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Read The Full Review here

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Wade Stevenson​ is interviewed on his latest book The Absence Of The Loved by Sandra Fluck.


Wade Stevenson and the poetry of love: A 21st century troubadour

Wade Stevenson was born in New York City in 1945 and his first book Beds (McCall Publishing Co., 1970) was a poetry best seller. Other books followed, including The Little Book of He and SheThe Color Symphonies, the award-winning Flutes and TomatoesMoon Talk, the memoir One Time in Paris, and the novel The Electric Affinities.
Wade Stevenson interviewed by Sandy Fluck
The Absence Of The Loved, your new collection of poetry, is being released by BlazeVOX in February, 2017. How would you describe this collection? What is the significance of the title?

There is a lot of meaning in the title. It’s not “one” absence, it’s The Absence. It’s a particular, well-defined, absolute “Absence.” It’s an “Absence” that everyone has experienced in their lives, because life and love always involve an absence, a sudden departure, a going away. In the same way, it’s not just any loved, it is “The Loved.” The “Loved” could be a woman or a man. It could even be a Goddess or God.

Departure, especially, an unanticipated one, always creates a terrible void, a space left behind, an absence that cries out to be filled. That’s how this book was born. That’s why poetry exists. The Absence Of The Loved ripened slowly over many years. I started it when I was living in Paris in 1969. It took all that time to find the exact words to fill up the space of a departure.

Dear You, A Memoir With PoemsThe Little Book of He and SheA Testament to Love and Other Losses; and Flutes and Tomatoes (A Memoir with Poems) are the titles of your previous books. They seem to be precedents for The Absence Of The Loved. How so? In what ways do they differ?

Of course they are linked. The common thread is love, loss, sex, absence/presence, death/life. These are universal themes but I’ve treated them differently in all my books. What changes is the language, the degree of intensity. The Little Book of He and She is more graphic in its representation of Eros. Flutes and Tomatoes is a haunting, simple story about how a young man uses the metaphor of a flute and a tomato to transcend a tragic loss. If you were to read them all, you would see they are all steps in a ladder leading up to the summit of The Absence Of The Loved.

Dear You is subtitled A Memoir With Poems. How does the memoir part of Dear You influence the poetry, or is it the other way around? Maybe it’s an interaction that is more equal? And is the writing process different when memoir is involved?

My first memoir One Time in Paris (IUniverse, 2008) was a straight literary memoir. There were no poems. It’s a great coming-of-age story that takes place in Paris in the turbulent 1960s. Dear You (BlazeVOX, 2015) is dramatic love letter addressed to one woman. I thought it might be helpful to the reader to have an accompanying text to “situate” it. The poems came first, the “memoir” later.

Which authors and books influenced the writing of The Absence Of The Loved? Your previous books?

A new book is a giving birth, it’s always a new adventure. My other books didn’t help at all. Or rather, they helped in the sense that they gave me the courage to take what was a difficult experience and to try to turn it into a transcendent one. I wanted the book to have a certain edgy tone to it so I used some popular language. I think the result is a very readable book, it has a nice progression, many gradations of thought, feeling, language, etc. It’s a different kind of poetry book.

When did you realize you wanted to write poetry? Was it a conscious decision, or did you just fall into it?

It was instinctive, like breathing in and out. It just happened. I was seven or eight years old. I taught myself to type on a Smith Corona. Writing and reading were my passions. I don’t control my writing, to a large degree it controls me. I let it happen. That also requires some courage. It requires precisely the courage to “let it happen.” The interesting question is: what is “it?” It’s interesting how I myself found out a lot about love in writing The Absence Of The Loved. And I’ve also learned new things from reader’s reactions to my book.

For example, could you share some of the things you’ve learned?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of absence and presence, plenitude and the void, negative and positive space. My book taught me this: there is really no such thing as absence, because absence, to the degree you are conscious of it, is in a state of continually becoming presence. I learned that the absence of the loved does not mean the death of the loved — it is actually the rebirth of the loved, the continuity of a presence, on a higher, more spiritual, level. To bring the loved one back by an act of remembrance is ultimately a victory over solitude.

Read the whole interview here 

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The Absence Of The Loved by Wade Stevenson Reviewed


The Absence Of The Loved

If ever there were a modern poet reminiscent of the troubadour of yore, Wade Stevenson would be this poet. Suffused with the themes of the troubadour canso—unrequited love, sexual desire, despair—The Absence Of The Loved, Stevenson’s most recent book, pulls the reader in a centripetal spin toward the heart, wherein lies the absence of the poet’s beloved. Like many suffering lovers, the poet does not often seize glimmers of lunatic love, but he does know “it will take time to cool,/To bring this heart back from the land of the dead.” For him, this love promises “a last chance,” for her it’s simply fate.

The lovers are young, in their early twenties when they meet in Paris, “a blind bargain at that first date.” He is “a poet, a rebel, a black sheep, a clown,” she “a dancer, a flute player, a butterfly being,” both soulfully unprepared for this passionate love affair. A month after they meet, she leaves him—sans note— with no refuge to still his lonely heart.

Why does the poet recall this woman’s absence with such fervor? Even as their affair ends by her departure, he continues to write about her for the simple reason that “at the bottom of things you know/There’s a pain that cannot be said.” On the title page, these places and dates appear:

Paris, April 1969
Buffalo, January 2017

On the last pages of the book is a photograph of him at the age apparently when the affair took place. Years later, as 2017 affirms, the poet is still writing about his Parisian lover, because, as he explains, “Print on a page is my only escape,/A liberty more difficult to find/Than pineapples in Siberia.”

The answer to the poet’s relentless search to reinterpret the meaning of this woman’s absence may be found in the dedication to The Absence Of The Loved, where Stevenson writes, “To the woman whose absence at last became a presence.” Recasting her absence, the poet at last decides that his loss does not have to last longer than loving her must, and so, with this insight, he unravels the conundrum that in her absence is also her presence. Moreover, the poet realizes that love doesn’t only flow outward but also flows inward. To conjoin the two—the outer and inner direction of love—the poet becomes the sole proprietor of his lover’s absence as well as her presence, transforming this love into “a fine art.”

There is another way to look at the conundrum of the lover’s presence in her absence. The title The Absence Of The Loved is instructive here. “The Loved” of the title injects an ambiguity ripe with meaning: Why choose “the Loved” instead of a denotation such as “my butterfly lover,” or “a loved one,” or “the flute player”? After all, his lover is “a real woman/Who touched the jewel of jubilant joy.” I would suggest that given the nature of romantic love itself and the poet’s experience with this particular lover, the above denotations do not express what the poet is after in the deeper layers of Absence Of The Loved. The “the” in the title connotes not only his specific lover, but also a generalized class of “the loved.”

Read the whole review here:

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Heisenberg’s Salon by Susan Lewis is reviewed in Tweetspeak



Frosty leaves Poetic Voices Lewis Wheeler

In Heisenberg’s Salon, poet Susan Lewis draws inspiration from a principle of quantum mechanics. In 1925, physicist Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) published what is known as his uncertainty principle—that in any system, you can’t know a particle’s exact location and exact velocity simultaneously. You can exactly know one or the other, but not both at the same time.

This idea of uncertainty is what Lewis develops in 54 prose poems—but not applied to quantum mechanics. Instead, she considers uncertainty in relationships, in human actions, in human thought, in our perceptions, and in how we understand the world. Here’s one example:


heisenbergs-salonIt was time for something, although she could not for the life of
her imagine what. So she assumed her post on the stoop & waited
for the future to declare itself. A tattered bird of dubious
provenance landed on the banister & inspected her with his
ancient gaze. She exhaled with emphasis, but otherwise managed
to keep her preconceptions to herself. The old fellow cocked his
head & screeched. Terrific, she said. How am I supposed to know if
you’re the one I’m waiting for? Terrific, he squawked. How am I supposed
to know if you’re the one I’m waiting for? I get it, she said, bravely
extending her arm. I get it, he echoed, latching on with admirable
decision. It was the last conversation they ever had.

The use of the prose poem form is intriguing. Visually, a paragraph looks more definitive, and more substantive, than a series of lines arranged in the familiar verse form. It implies solidity, definition, fact. Yet Lewis turns the form on its head by the substance of each poem, taking us not to answers but to questions.

Susan Lewis

Susan Lewis

In the poem above, the speaker knows it’s time for something, and the arrival of a “tattered bird of dubious provenance” might have the answer, or might be the answer. The bird merely repeats what the speaker says, and “it was the last conversation they ever had.” It was also the first conversation they ever had. The conversation doesn’t come to a point—and that, perhaps, is the point. The uncertainty of the speaker is never defined or identified.

Lewis is the editor of the literary journal Posit. She received her MFA degree in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence University, and her BA and JD degrees from University of California-Berkeley. In addition to her several published books of poetry, she writes flash fiction, which has been performed on stage in Denver, and compositions with other artists performed at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. She lives in New York City.

Heisenberg’s Salon is one of the most innovative collections I’ve read.

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Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood) Book 2 by Tony Trigilio reviewed!!


Watching in the Dark: Puncture Wounds Left by DARK SHADOWS


Inside the Walls of My Own House: The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood), Book 2, by Tony Trigilio. Buffalo, New York: BlazeVOX books, October 2016. 152 pages. $16.00, paper.


Inside the Walls of My Own House

Every shadowy story should invoke the uncanny. Tony Trigilio keeps dreaming (and writing) of his uncanny space, at home with his mother in front of the television screen. Space and time billow and unfold as he remembers watching Dark Shadowsand being transported to gothic Maine:

an electronic portal opened unto
the spirit world, a supernatural

transmitter documenting the undead
life of the 208-year-old creature who

lived inside the walls of my own house;
I took for granted that our TV functioned

as a conduit for a “two-directional exchange
between occultism and technology,” as media

scholar Stefan Andriopoulos describes
the earliest precursors of the television:

19th-century optical devices designed
for remote viewing and clairvoyance,

leading many early 20th-century viewers to
believe that to watch TV was to experience

“the uncanny occurrence of the supernatural
or marvelous in one’s own living room”—

This is a hybrid, vampire text. A hallucination. A story told through the red haze of a fantastical curse. It grows more complex as time stretches, changes, and is infused with information about the show, the past, and the present-day state of the world.

Collinwood becomes an extension of Trigilio’s childhood home. The characters appear like family members with terrible secrets watched from afar. Every detail of the house and the characters is remembered, re-viewed, and obsessed over.

The book begins midway through the show’s run. Previous episodes are sometimes mentioned, but it is not necessary to have read the first book or seen the first episodes of Dark Shadows to immediately become hooked on the story of the Collins family, by way of Trigilio’s childhood fascination.

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Photos on flickr