Review by LB Sedlacek
In this poetry collection by Peter Dabbene, there’s a treat—somewhat reminiscent of “Easter Eggs” hidde in DVDs—in that he uses a photographic illustration, graphic whatever you want to call it (I like art, I love modern art but I’m not an artist) at the end of each poem. These pictures serve to add a visual punctuation to the poem maybe punching up the title or a particular theme, verse or line.
I have to admit once I started reading his poetry book I looked forward to the end of the poem to see what visual piece would follow it. The blend of words and visuals is nothing new but how it is presented and how the words are represented is somewhat of a balancing act between the two forms. You don’t want to over illustrate the poem so that the reader feels like they are being led to a conclusion and at the same time you don’t want to point the reader in the wrong direction. Dabbene seems to have carefully chosen his visual props, so to speak, and they work well with each poem.
For “Notes on a Story Never Written” a carriage typewriter is used as the visual key. For “Coleridge, Awake (The Memory of Dreams)” there’s a newsprint article including “Xanadu.” For “Waiting to Laugh at the Movie Trailer Joke” and “Out of the Movie House” there’s a surreal shot of an empty movie theater.
But there’s more to this poetry book than what’s in the photos. The poem “Shh” is an image filled striking poem using only one word per line. “Time Capsules (The Secret Function of Books)” talks of the things people are likely to keep in books, a potent look
at memories and maybe daily reminders of the book owner’s life. “No More Black Socks” is a somewhat humorous take on not wearing black socks anymore correlating the donning of them as necessary for a serious responsible working man.
“Optimism” is a buoyant poetry book, communicating the author’s observations and experiences. It is a fresh portrayal of every day and not so every day encounters.
From “Extinct”: “I would not feel threatened ut for their sake//
Blonde hair and blue eyes, killed by weak genes, now found only in kits and foreigners/
Rotary dial telephones, holed up in old houses like fugitives and shut-ins/
Saturday morning cartoons, victims of bloodless coups by political roundtables/
What I would give to feel again//
the thrill of exploring/ VHF and UHF/
exotic and mysteriously static…”
From “A Dream”
In my dream,/I am running//
Alongside me is every dog we’ve ever owned/ Their tongues flapping out the sides of their mouths/
I watch them run, and smile/My private flock, my private stock of best friends/
With no leashes and no fences…”
Peter Dabbene has also published two story collections, Prime Movements and Glossolalia as well as a novel, Mister Dreyfus’ Demons.
LB Sedlacek’s poems have appeared in such publications as “Manorborn,” “MamaZine,” “Audience Magazine, “Skive Magazine,” and “Poetry Monthly.” http://www.myspace.com/lbsedlacek, http://twitter.com/lbsedlacek