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*Starred Review* Dlugos greatly admired Frank O'Hara, whom he resembled in many particulars. Dlugos, too, was gay, an arriviste to New York who became as loyal to the city as any native, a cultural omnivore, and an impressively facile (at least, facile-seeming) writer. When you want to read about 1950s bohemian New York, read O'Hara; for the 1970s, read Dlugos. Then keep reading, for although he died at the same age, 40, at which O'Hara did, Dlugos, precisely one generation younger, lived beyond bohemia into the firestorm of the AIDS epidemic. Dlugos retained his wit and intelligence to the very end, as well as his religious sensibility (he had been a postulant of the Christian Brothers). His poetic corpus records not just the barhopping and bedhopping (though actual beds were often lacking) and the camping and kitsch-mongering balanced by appreciation of and open stealing (quotation, really, la a great jazzman) from acknowledged artistic masters that O'Hara before him afforded, but also the valley-of-the-shadow-of-death experience unique to his contingent of artistic movers and shakers. Dlugos' poetry is autobiographical of his consciousness and spirit more than of his body and actions. Unlike O'Hara's, Dlugos' poetry is often formal, always well measured, polished without ever seeming labored, and, finally, more loving than clever.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)Publishers Weekly (06/20/2011):
There's more to Dlugos than his posthumous legend suggests--and yet the legend is reason enough to revisit his work. No story of gay American poetry would be complete without an account of his urbane, openhearted, and various works, admired before and after the poet's death from AIDS in 1990. He's sometimes remembered as a hip New Yorker, a link between uptown and downtown scenes, whose poems amble unguardedly, first winningly, and then hauntingly, through the days and nights of his life: "it was more fun," one late poem muses, "before I knew/ my poetry could never be a spaceship/ to speed me far away." Those earthbound poems also record, by name, his links to other poetic lights: Bernadette Mayer, Eileen Myles, David Kalstone. Some of them fall between meditations and rambles, unspooling his thoughts through several pages of free verse or boxy prose. Yet Dlugos did at least as well with his shorter poems, written in Washington, D.C., in the 1970s as well as in New York in the 1980s; in them, he was very much out of the closet, attentive more to feeling than to narrative, and delighted to put the legacy of Frank O'Hara to compact and beautiful use, as in "The Steven Hamilton Sestina," tricky or ingenuous sonnets, the airy poem of infatuation entitled "Lunch with Paul," or the anthology-worthy "American Baseball." This ambitious collection, with Trinidad's foreword and chronology, might elevate from cult status a poet who did much more than respond to his times. (June)
Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
"The Frank O'Hara of his generation."--Ted Berrigan