Speed Reading

Complete Minimal Poems by Adam Saroyan and Comin' at Ya! The Homoerotic 3-D Photographs of Denny Denfield


By Aram Saroyan

Ugly Duckling Presse

283 pages


Clear the dross and bric-a-brac from your brain and start anew with Aram Saroyan's minimalist poems. The quickest thick-book reading experience you'll ever have (unless you take the time to savor its simplicity), this collection of Saroyan's writings from the '60s offers pages of poems that make haiku seem lugubrious and cumbersome; only Taylor Mead's poems are similarly immediate. Delight leaps from: a list of radio stations beginning with the letter W; an m, perhaps strayed from an m &, that has sprouted an extra leg; the repeat appearance of crickets in forms that convey their sonic properties and number; remarks about Ted Berrigan's impish spirit and Ron Padgett's judgment; a sensory appreciation of mown grass and (somewhat parodically) William Carlos Williams motifs; mirrors seen through a marijuana haze and money as seen while on LSD; numbers; all the keys of a typewriter keyboard. One work missing from this collection is Saroyan's The Beatles, a posthumous tribute to the Fab Four that extends the basic beauty of the cover art of "The White Album." Like that sleeve, Complete Minimal Poems recognizes the beauty of an almost blank page.


By David L. Chapman and Thomas Waugh

Arsenal Pulp Press

208 pages


Don't judge a book by its cover or title: this collection of Denny Denfield's stereoview photography isn't the kitsch burger of beefcake silliness suggested by the cheeky image on its front. Denfield might indeed possess more dimensions than his '50s and '60s contemporaries (such as the more famous Bob Mizer) who photographed nude men at a time when doing so could lead to serious prison time. His stereoviews — meant to be viewed through 3-D glasses, a sturdy plastic pair of which are provided with the book — don't just spontaneously step outside the sucked-in abs and strained muscles of physique pictorials into occasional messy, drunken hardcore. More successfully, they venture into atmospheric realms. This is especially the case in photos taken at Baker Beach and the nearby woods: rock formations and sun-dappled tree trunks and branches dramatically play off and sometimes even overshadow the human subjects. Furtiveness and a potent melancholic experience of the ephemeral are built into this adult version of the childhood ViewMaster experience, which requires cross-eyed participation on the part of the gazer. Denfield's stereoview work might be richest when viewed as a light West Coast — with an emphasis on the coastal — answer to Alvin Baltrop's gay lib–era photos of the piers in New York. Both photographers took their vision to the literal edges of America.

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