Sunday, April 12, 2020

What Wred's Reading: The Best Of Impetus

I have been rereading some old books lately, not only because all the libraries are closed, but also because I am getting older and do not want to move as much stuff as I did during my last move.  It has been a fun trip down the proverbial Memory Lane.  This book I picked up at Cat's Impetuous Books, probably the coolest bookstore I have ever been to.  It was a small store located in an alley in Kent, Ohio USA, and the proprietor, Cheryl Townsend, stocked the coolest stuff, from zines to classic literature.  She even had a store cat named Bukowski.  This book was her collection of the first ten years of her underground poetry zine Impetus.  It has a lot of cool poets in it including Charles Bukowski, Ron Androla, Sherman Alexie, Lyn Lifshin, Pat McKinnon, Kurt Nimmo, Hal Sirowitz, and Alfred Vitale.  It doesn't have any poetry from Cheryl herself, which is too bad because her stuff was really good also, but I suppose she felt that editing the zine/book was enough.

One really cool aspect of the bookstore was that she held a lot of readings there, so I was able to hear many of these poets read in person.  They were, in general, a wild bunch.  Many are deceased now or quite old (some were middle-aged then, and the book came out a quarter century ago).  American literature seems a lot tamer since these folks passed through.  Unfortunately, the bookstore is long gone as well.  The city of Kent and Kent State University were hellbent on turning the entire city into an outdoor shopping mall (you know, one of those fake towns that pretend to be the real downtowns the big box stores killed off), and the building was torn down to build a hotel or something else that wouldn't survive without heavy tax subsidies.  Frankly, Kent is creepy to walk around in now, like some sort of zombie town that replaced the real town ("Oh, there's a Speedway where the punk bands used to live.  Oh, look it's Starbucks now instead of Brady's Cafe, so I can pay twice as much for a coffee."), but I suppose the students still find some ways to have fun.

Anyway, in this book, the 1980s/1990s underground American poetry scene still lives, so that's some solace for those of us who can't afford to buy a condo where the Mantis Art Gallery was.

Also, you can get a feel for that era in this novel of mine.

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