Reviewed by Larry Jaffee
Mr. Wallace is a fanatic with words. His poetry is lovingly and even connivingly built on the handpicked backs of these lettered morsels. He is fanatical in his word choice. You can see the glimmer in his eyes as each letter is lovingly put to bed. I hate praising him so much but this book is refined, yet raw and fantastic. Here’s the thing – there is the distinction of reviewing a book by a performance poet especially as dynamic a one as George. The question is can he bring to the page what he brings to the stage? Can that same dynamism that he brings to life be recreated while reading his book in the confines of your home and between the covers of a book? Thus, we have to let the written word do the walking and the talking.
Each poem in the selection opens the door to the next. In SECOND FIDDLE, Wallace wings into the book and religiously states his position in life when he states:
this goes out to
You just know this litany sets the tone not just for the book but for his life as well. Wallace is a poet of the people and it is to the regular folks he writes. In the title poem RIDING WITH BOOM BOOM, Wallace takes up the cause of a never to be forgotten Bluesman who got on the wrong end of the law. He laments the loss of justice, of Boom Boom he speaks:
Everybody says he was
tons of fun onstage.
But sometimes the bass guitar
isn’t enough to make the blues go away.
Suddenly and without warning, Wallace swings into prosaic wonder as you encounter a series of prose poems from the artist. Perhaps this is where he shines the most. I have never known George to be a religious man except when it comes to art.
In fact if you shut your eyes completely you can see all the way through a person. Straight to God! I recognized right away this was an adult to pay attention to and tried in my childish way to listen to every word he had to say. I still like to think of my uncle on a hot afternoon in the atelier when I paint, with my eyes closed and the nudes in their indifferent poses,
Wallace wields the language of the streets with a robust language of a burly longshoreman or a ticked off grandma. In one of my favorite pieces in the book albeit perhaps the shortest. You can see the quintessential George Wallace pump up the words and bellow with an almost silent fortitude:
dude walks into the fuck you cafe.
I hate sounding like the consummate George Wallace fanboy as I am really most discerning in my poetry reading, but I guess like so many others I cannot help myself.
This is a George Wallace performance worthy of your audience.