Book Review: Beautiful Chaos

Key West Poet Laureate Emeritus, Kirby Congdon (Photo by Richard Watherwax)

by Kirby Congdon…….

Book Review
Beautiful Chaos
Poems by Jose Gomez
6 x 9 pb (50p)
ISBN: 978-6925319-5

Many references heighten ordinary speech and we can trust the empathy that underlies this man’s experience. In this reviewer’s opinion Mr. Gomez’ work is often erotically central and, like his vocabulary and the construction of his ideas they are often skillfully handled. Three memorable ones are “Cello,” the mellow reality in “Chaos,” along with the steady construction that provides the humor in “Am I,” a poem that ends with doubt about his sanity. Any artist wonders, at some point, if they aren’t a tad insane, infatuated as they are with their particular medium. This is a universal question for every artist but we feel its undertone through the entire collection here. It is that of an intelligent man whose mind absorbs how rare insight is. The ordinary, here, becomes an original stimulus. I am thinking, as an example, of of his advice, to let no experience be without passion. Let it be absorbed “like the horizon does the sunset.”

His thoughts about depression and coping, as in the poem, “Beautiful Chaos,” come across in many poems. Being able to transcribe the intimacy of a relationship into a poem is a difficult thing to do unless, as here, it looks easy!

I’ve been told that the cute spelling of his byline, “Prolifik tha Poet” is part of the hip-hop culture, but a writer like Jose Gomez is not part of any culture; he is the culture. Using illiterate language is only an unnecessary distraction for the serious reader. As humor it is a little thin. Mr. Gomez doesn’t need it. Also, putting dots after every single title loses the sense of expectation they usually convey. The format of a poem automatically arouses suspense. It’s natural for Mr. Gomez to worry about getting the reader’s attention, but he can afford to take that risk and doesn’t need to worry about it.


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Kirby Congdon
Kirby Congdon found his calling in the time of the Beat Movement, his poems being published by the New York Times, The New York Herald Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor as well as countless small-press outlets. While influenced by the assertive stance of a new generation in literature, he preferred to set aside the spontaneous approach of his friends and use his work as an exploratory tool in establishing the new identity of his times as well as that of his own maturation. This search was incorporated in 300 works which were compiled in a bibliography by a Dean of the English Department at Long Island University in his retirement and made available in hard-back with an extensive addenda by the literary activists of Presa Press through their skills achieved from the University of Michigan and their own experience which commands a movement in itself of contemporary literary action.

Congdon’s work in poetry covers innumerable treatments of countless subjects in single poems, long treatments on a subject, and many collections of both serious thought and imagination through not only the poetry but through essays, plays and ruminations. Named the first poet laureate of Key West, he received a standing ovation for his reading honoring this position and was the featured poet in a festival celebrating Frank O’Hara in the New York region. He was also asked to read his work as well as give a talk on the country’s national poet laureate, Richard Wilbur, at a seminar honoring that man. Currently, Congdon is working on an autobiography and a collection of complete poems.

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