I have a confession to make. Sometimes I read modern poetry and I don’t have a lot of hope for the future of the craft. I’ve known Dan Provost for over a decade now. I published chapbooks for him when I ran a small press, so when he wrote me and said he had a new book out and he’d like me to review it, I said bring it on.
This book is a hundred and thirty-eight pages long. Though it never drags or misses the point. I would say alone that is quite an accomplishment.
These are notes from a man standing at the edge of the abyss. And he tells you what is there. Nothing, it just gets deeper. These are Poems for the underdog, the ones that stand on the outside of life in the shadow of the winners. This is not for the pretenders.
If there is one thing I can say about Dan as a Poet is that he is a master observer or voyeur. He is a master of the human condition. How do you master such a trait? Living.
Let’s look at the Poems and see if Dan has truly reached that Master Poet status. I would take you first to a Poem toward the beginning called The Neutral Poet. Here we have something we in Poetry would call a cataloging of thoughts. Just look at the natural list developing.
Because the line between truth and reality
often gets distorted . . .
Because you look in the mirror
and find nothing . . .
Because symbols along the road
just become filthy . . .
He keeps this going for a good page and three quarters, a good show of control of the Poem.
Something else a Master Poet can do, say a lot in a few words. For this we move forward to Balls Of Steel.
Balls Of Steel
Those who have the stones
to jump into the abys
without a parachute are
self absolved sooth-sayers.
Not knowing where they are going
to end . . .
Nor do they care.
I would say this test is successful. As a whole Dan takes you into the abys with him and tells you what he sees. The trip is dark, yet necessary. I would recommend this book to any Poet out there, at any stage, there is something you can take from this. This is no nonsense foot on the gas pedal Poetry. I would not expect different. - Michael D. Grover