Last Word Press is proud to announce the release of a new collection of poems from New York poet Erik La Prade.
Erik La Prade is a free-lance journalist, poet and non-fiction writer focusing on art and artists, and an artist of his own merit. He was recently included in Alan Kaufman's Outlaw Bible of American Art (Last Gasp 2016). His previous works of poetry include: Movie Logic (2013), False Confessions (2011), and the interview series BREAKING THROUGH: Richard Bellamy and the Green Gallery, 1960-1965 (2010).
La Prade brings a sardonic humor to the poems in this collection, while evincing a subtle homage to American literary history. Neglected Powers brims with the forgotten corners of New York and the ghosts of New England, using subtle turns of phrase and the poet's own memories. La Prade himself has said these poems are echoes created by encounters with friends, lovers, buildings and places visited or lived in over many years. They are collected from three previous chapbooks written over a period of about five years, while some have not been published in any collection until now.
There is a haunting lucidity and a bitter clarity in many of these poems. One can feel the weight in these lines and grasp the elusive thread of history running throughout. In the poem, Incomplete, La Prade gives voice to that indistinct longing:
Things are out of order
And familiar objects from my
Past have turned unfamiliar.
I still know where
Pieces are: coffee grains,
Dried soup noodles, apple cores,
Some things are missing
As new buildings block
The view from my window
And shards of light
Lie on my floor
In the poems Midnight Cinemas and Cloud Storage, La Prade recalls a New York that no longer exists but is just around the corner, a less tame city that is somehow more pure and innocent than the 21st century megalopolis of today:
Then, it was midnight showings
Of double features,
Leaving the theater
At four o’clock in the morning,
Stopping to eat franks at a Forty Second
Street Nedick’s stand more ancient
Than the Second World War.
One morning we watched a knife fight
While drinking our sodas.
The streets were threatening
With the thrill of living
On our own, without money.
The sex booths were cheap
But the night life cheaper because
It was free for the viewing.
Now, the buildings are torn down,
Or closed, looking as tired
As the acid-brown pages of 1950s
Confidential magazines in plastic.
I’m sitting in Bryant Park,
Thinking of the once holy spaces
Where seraphim, cherubim,
And angels existed with birds,
Rainstorms, meteorites, in their
Now, the air is filled with
Waves of information, moving invisibly,
Just above my head.
I used to think the glamour
Of the city was gone,
But now I’m convinced
It has only moved to another place
Still filled with movies,
Music, a childhood to visit
With the help of satellite maps and old
Addresses. Every day there is
New and endless information to read on
Things like castles, animals, or jello,
All on my lunch hour,
But La Prade truly shines in the poems that describe the mundane details of life with irreverent wit. A perfect example of this is the poem Ballad of a Week-end. Slipping into and out of metaphor, La Prade captures again that all-too-human longing for the past buried in old letters, and of the fleeting sense of Time.
BALLAD OF A WEEK-END
I remember what you wrote,
As the sound of your voice
Fills the room tonight
With sudden memories.
Your cryptic apologies
Are ridiculous now,
As when you spoke of faults
In the Earth, or an ice age
Alive with controversy:
How slip faults
Would suddenly surface
To cover us in shapeless
Earth, the landscape
Shaking down the walls
Of our room with the dust of timbers.
“The mind has mountains,” you said,
Quoting Hopkins. But, when the night
Folded itself into napkins of light,
I still didn’t want to read your letter,
Or, even, clean up the scattered pieces
From the floor, so I left them
Lying in the gray sand of memories.
In the bedroom’s fireplace,
The fire that burned Rome
Glows; a red shadow,
Reflected in an old clock’s glass face,
Turning time to a diamond-hard memory.
Nearby, a violin hangs on the wall,
Its broken strings, resembles a crèche angel, imploring us
To repent from our morning lust,
And save ourselves from old faults.
Sailing, we drift in a haze of water;
Blue Chinese waves on porcelain.
Fuck your analyst.
I don’t want you to understand me,
Or give me a lecture
On the languages of the senses—
Not while the breeze is cool on my skin
And I can watch you sunbathe nude.