MICHAEL LAYNE HEATH, “Grey Rage (Dyed)”
KSE #126 (cover photographs by Mira Horvich)
Edition of 77 hand-assembled, hand-numbered copies.
Perhaps the most-awaited KSE chapbook of 2009, this new 4th book from San Francisco’s MICHAEL LAYNE HEATH (his 2nd for KSE) contains all the qualities that led to his previous KSE chap SACRED GROUNDS to be ranked as one of the “best reads of 2007” by Arthur Magazine. A battle-scarred but always-landing-on-his-feet guy in his 40’s tries to assemble a life in 2009 America, full of the “grey rage” of a man old enough to have lived through the 70’s, but “dyed” enough to still be on the prowl for someone delicious to sleep with (and maybe even talk to!). A man who walks the city streets fueled by the inspiration of a Robert Mapplethorpe or a Patti Smith, by the elegance of a Brian Epstein, and by the activism of Paris 1968 or Stonewall 1969. A man who is sensitive to the small things, the beauty of the cracks in the sidewalk, the consideration of a partner who uses mouthwash before kissing, the sense of triumph in being mostly broke but finally able to afford dinner and drinks.
Like Brad Kohler and yours truly, Mike grew out of the punkzine writing world. His late 70’s VINTAGE VIOLENCE ‘zine was pioneering, and when I started INNER MYSTIQUE in 1981-82, Mike’s example was a great influence on me. He’s continued to do hip, thoughtful, beautifully crafted music writing through the years (including some great sets of liner notes), and he’s earned the respect and admiration of his peers in that world. He’s still much sought after as a reviewer, and he’s got an excellent arts and culture column ” The Groover’s Grotto,” at the website of much-acclaimed fantasy novelist Tad Williams.
As Mike has a lifelong involvement in music, both as a writer-historian and as a musician-songwriter himself, it’s not surprising that there is a musicality of phrase and a wonderful sense of tone and modulation to his verse. SACRED GROUNDS contained a moving tribute to P. J. Proby, and this new chapbook concludes with a powerful two-page poem in honor of the late Brian Epstein, long one of my own personal heroes.
Whether writing about sex or longing or poetry readings, or describing the yuppie condo block that now sits where SF’s legendary Winterland once rocked, Michael Layne Heath is an original. He manages to nail the uncertainty and ennui of this curious age in which we live, but he remains positive because the future always has promise, and that next cigarette or the next poem or the next attractive guy met at a watering hole just might bring some kind of salvation…or at least keep one occupied!
Mike will be supporting the release of this book with some readings (check his myspace page for details, or write me) in the Bay Area. Finally, I’ve been pestering him to do a volume in the Sound Library Series, and he has agreed to, perhaps for release in late 2009? Personally, I can’t wait!!!
Don’t miss this one. $4.oo postpaid in the US, check payable to Bill Shute, 14080 Nacogdoches Rd. #350, San Antonio, Texas, 78247. Outside the US, it’s $5 postpaid, via paypal. Write to django5722 (at) yahoo (dot) com and request a paypal invoice. And don’t forget, in the US you can get any three different chapbooks for $10 postpaid. Along with Mike’s GREY RAGE (DYED), pick any two others from this list:
#127, BRAD KOHLER, dog nights, dog days ;
#131, BILL SHUTE, acres (sound library series, volume 40) ;
#129, MIRA HORVICH / BILL SHUTE, suspension ;
#119, A. J. KAUFMANN, satori in berlin (x-berg songs) ;
#122, LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL, still human ;
#116, MISTI RAINWATER-LITES, next exit: ten ;
#34, STUART CRUTCHFIELD, shack simple (reprint).
As always, thanks for your support of KSE’s poets and of small press poetry.
Earlier chapbooks by Michael Layne Heath:
COUNT TO FIVE AND TELL THE TRUTH (Feudal Gesture Press, 2006)
PUT IT THIS WAY (Feudal Gesture Press, 2006)
SACRED GROUNDS (Kendra Steiner Editions, 2007—-out of print).