Poetry premiere at JR Kortman, Saturday

By Frank Schier 
Editor & Publisher 

Did you miss it? The Mas Tequila Review’s Editor and Publisher Richard Vargas held a poetry reading at  at CNVR Company on May 14, featuring the work of J.T. Whitehead Editor-In Chief of So it Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Make sure you don’t miss other events hosted by Pablo Corona at 317 Jefferson St., by visiting cnvrcompany.com or their Facebook page.

The other featured reader was supposed to be Dennis Gulling, with selections from his new work, The Blood Dark Sea. However, he was ill that evening and a friend had a cure for his absence which will be related later.

A well-known poet, Vargas read excellent pieces by some of his favorite poets in several issues of his review, formerly based in Albuquerque, N.M. where he moved several years ago. He has returned to Rockford with his review and has hosted several readings in the area. The new issue of The Mas Tequila Review is available online at amazon.com.

Vargas’ featured reader, J.T. Whitehead read from his first work, The Table of Elements: Poems 1992 to 2007.

As pointed out by Dr. Peter J. Stanlis’ Robert Frost: the Poet as Philosopher, Frost disparaged the separation of science from the liberal arts, saying the duality of matter and spirit could be stated in terms of each other and they are one.

Whitehead states spirit in terms of matter in his title piece’s first stanza addressing the permanence of tracks in the sands of the desert/truth in the lines: “What if all those sands were limestone – / calcium, sodium & silicon? / Are you soul-less now or more alone?”

His poem’s titles speak to our duality using the elements, plus other namings of science. Here a few of his titles “Chrome,” “Neon,” “Silicon,” “Rust,” “Fools Gold,” and finally “Sodium Pentothal.” Reading from the beginning to end of his book will give you an equation to enjoy. Contact him at vonnegutlibrary.org.

As noted, Dennis Gulling was sick. Since I have known him and his work since 1984, I could have told you that years ago. A kindred spirit.

On May 14 however, he was reported to be really physically ill, and could not attend to present his newest twistings. So his friend, Zombie Logic Press’ Editor & Publisher Thomas Vaultonburg read several of his favorite pieces in Gulling’s place. Like Vargas and Whitehead, Vaultonburg is an excellent reader and did a fine job as Gulling’s editor. He knew just the crowd pleasers/shockers to read from the best outlaw poetry book I have read in a long long time.

The Blood Dark Sea will light you up as a real page burner and soak you with “I don’t believe he wrote that, let alone published it” laughter. I had to read it in one sitting.

I could see former and deceased Belvidere poet Todd Moore, 1937-2010, the father of outlaw poetry, sloshing in Gulling’s red splatter and yucking it up. As very finely pointed out by Vargas, who wrote the introduction to this wild work, Moore was Gulling mentor, first as his high school teacher and then as a lifelong fiend (that was not misspelled). Moore is famous for his 13 volumes of Dillinger. Crude, rude and a riot to know, Moore taught Gulling about shock and awefulness. Read the epilogue in Gulling’s book by Moore’s kid, Theron Moore. Daddy Moore’s slim volumes now sell for $99 online, they are so rare and raw. Vargas says someone is thinking about putting them all together in one anthology. God, really, help us. Go to m-etropolis.com/blog/todd-moore-1937-2010/ for more Moore.

Showing too much can be finely crafted, Gulling’s new work shows he’s taken to the Moore’s violence like a hot slug ripping out of a flaming barrel – of monkeys. As one woman  I read “The Harpers” to said really loudly in the Dockside Bar, “HE IS FUNNY!” Gulling reads as one subtly hilarious, dangerously quiet, completely twisted and evolving primate whose unique voice will scare you with it’s dark talent. Look for the poems that mention a coffee pot, calliope music, and a purse. Each are in separate poems I will not ruin for you by gassing about them.

So on May 14 you missed it. Dennis Gulling even missed it, so don’t get rattled, you wimp, as Moore might say. Instead, trip the light fantastic down to JR Kortman Center for Design, 107 N. Main St., on June 11 – that’s this Saturday for the calendar-challenged – at 7 p.m.

If he’s not sicker than usual, again, you can meet the meek and mild appearing Mr. Dennis Gulling, and hear and see him read in dulcet tones his works of terror and delight. See you there. Or as Gulling might say if you’re thinking twice (as you should) about going to this poetry reading, “You’re not a wimp or whimperer, are you? If you are, come on down!”

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