There's a lot to love in M. Scott Douglass's new book
of poems, Hard to Love. The language's vernacular
precision--its unerring homage to who we are, what life is like, how time
passes relentlessly as we cling frantically to its bucking back--is wonderfully,
wholly authentic. These wry poems are funny, tough and provocative. Douglass
possesses a keen and irreverent eye, an ear pressed to the burning road,
the heart and soul of biker.
M. Scott Douglass is a poet in the spirit of Charles
Bukowski--but better, more controlled. The sheer exuberance and profusion
of his work is heartening, and each poem is filled with intelligence, wit,
intensity, and raw energy. Ranging over his own life and the lives of those
he loves, Douglass rewrites his experience in language that speaks the
simple and heartening truth.
--Stephen E. Smith
In M. Scott Douglass's collection Hard to Love, the narrator quips, "doesn't love fix everything?"
Douglass knows it doesn't, but he and his characters still long for the
grace love brings. For a throng of modern-day posers--gallery crawlers,
Drew Barrymore and Sinbad wannabees--Douglass offers parody rather than
affection. He reserves a special kind of rage for media pimps--the Aflac
duck, Ann Coulter, the Capital One barbarians--who send the rest of us
limping to the mailbox like Charles Bukowski's persona to find only a Visa
card bill, and "a letter from the mortgage people." Ah, but for
those Beat down-and-outers--those who "cuddle a bottle of Jim Beam"
or lie "naked on the couch, / a loaded revolver on the floor beside"
them--Douglass's poems are gritty valentines. In chunks of prose as solid
as a "fifty pound, unabridged Holy Bible," he reminds us why
bikers and others living on the fringe can be "Angels," offering
grace even as they receive it.
Knowing Scott Douglass as I do, I usually know what
to expect in his poetry, but after reading this new collection, I was blown
away. This is his best work yet. These poems speak with honesty and sometimes
brutal imagery of his younger days in Pennsylvania, remembering the pain
and pleasures of adolescence, his hopes for the future, and the desperation
of moving on, as he writes, "I got out with memories intact,/fear
and respect for those I left behind
" Yet, this work is also
contemporary, and draws upon our pop culture, intertwining images and language
of television commercials, trends in electronic media, e-readers, the current
political climate, and that icon of the road, the Mustang. Douglass reminds
us we are human with all our flaws as he recounts the misgivings and misfortunes
of friends and acquaintances, yet with wit and keen observation. I sense
a profound respect for everyone he writes about, from the man with the
big head to Oklahoma Jack to his traveling companion in Mustang Days. He
frequently finds himself on the road, and in the end "
changes." He writes, "A twist of the wrist/and I am thunder./I
am wind. I/am gone."
Read this collection. You'll laugh. You might even
cry, but you will enjoy it. Douglass may be Hard
to Love, but you'll love this book.
--Jonathan K. Rice
Iodine Poetry Journal
Scott Douglass has a sharp eye and an even sharper,
irreverent wit, as evidenced in his new collection of poems. And he isnt
afraid to use his rapier tools at any location, from Wally World
to a poetry reading at an art gallery to the aisle at St. Lukes,
on any individual. Hard to Love is peopled
with the famous/infamous, including Bernie Madoff, Martha Stewart, Sinbad,
and Ann Coulter, and a fascinating array of people we may or may not know,
such as Sister Francis, TK the Chick Magnet, Oklahoma Jack, and a teenage
girl in a bunched metallic micro-skirt, bright red spandex top, shin-high
space boots. Oh, and not one but two appearances of the man
with the big head, about whom Douglass asks, Is it hard to
love him? Meet this poet at At the Intersection of Boredom
and Anxiety as he gathers evidence about how hard to love we can
all be, we, who by dint of our shared humanity, are all contributing to
an ever-evolving community canvas. ... Curious? Let the poetry
Maureeen Ryan Griffin