Review by Christopher J. Jarmick (email)
HER BRIGHT BOTTOM
by Harvey Goldner
110 Vine St #202
Seattle WA 98121
2007, 40 pp., $6.00
Harvey Goldner was an influential Seattle street poet known as the Bard of Belltown (Belltown being a downtown Seattle neighborhood). Once upon a time he had a family, wife, children, but alcoholism and falling in love with someone else derailed his 'normal' life. Eventually he got sober and then took an unofficial vow of poverty to devote his life to poetry. He drove a cab one day a week to raise a few dollars to pay the rent for his boarding house, bathroom down the hall flat, while devoting his time to writing, performing and trying to publish his poetry and mentoring other poets. He hated censorship of any kind, in any form, with a passion. He also had no patience for callous corporate types--young or old.
Harvey lived to shock, surprise, and entertain. He played harmless pranks on people, and he wanted a reaction positive or negative from everyone who heard him read. He also helped street poets get published--even publishing a very cheaply produced literary magazine called RoarShock that he edited in a completely unconventional way, sometimes re-writing some of the poems that were submitted to him and publishing them without showing his edits to the poets who wrote them. The poets would get credit, and sometimes the edits made the poems better, but many didn't like Harvey's methods.
He didn't care what others thought as he created and edited what he wanted, how he wanted and whenever he wanted.
It is not surprising that his poetry was sometimes crude and vulgar, often full of no-holds-barred humor, making fun of the elite and arrogant. What was surprising was how witty, creative, and innovative his poetry was. And sometimes there were surprisingly literary and academic references revealing that Harvey was a well-read and well-educated writer.
Chris Dusterhoff worked with Harvey to create a series of chapbooks containing some of Harvey's work. They are somewhat crudely produced, but artistic works published under the Spankstra Press name. Her Bright Bottom was the last of these chapbooks to be published before Harvey died of cancer on July 4th, 2007. One hundred and fifty total were printed. Twenty-six are signed and numbered by the author. Original price was $6.00. You can inquire about availability by emailing Chris at email@example.com.
Her Bright Bottom consists of two long Goldner poems: "Her Bright Bottom: 19 sonnets in a silver bowl" and "A Wild Rose Romance". They are both audacious, taboo breaking pieces, funny, sad, vulgar and frustrating. The energy the poems have is infectious.
"Her Bright Bottom" is somewhat grounded in reality as we meet free spirit Wanda, and get exposed to the various adventures of her life and the incarnations of herself she inhabits. I love lines like:
Wanda stars in Redmond bars, collecting business
partners with detachable hearts and capital
(#18 of "Her Bright Bottom")
...Speaking of old cows,
Walt Whitman grazes the pasture. Posing post-
modern, Walt doesn’t give milk, he gives Pepsi
(#1 of "Her Bright Bottom")
Goldner's "A Wild Romance" is more a magic realism, male fantasy poem,
sprinkled with a go-for-broke outrageousness that feels only slightly manufactured.
Harvey dares you to knock the poetry off his shoulder, come on...he dares you:
..."she's insanse" the women whisper, sharpening their kitchen knives.
But the boys line up.
Moon-mad, she and Molly rub flesh and lick and suck
Lips and nipples. They smear cool mud all over each
Other's hot body. Now only their eveyes shine--moonstruck
......................At Benroya Hall,
her first concert (topless!) stunned the critics; “such heart!
“Such a weaving of traditions! Such exquisite tits! I call
Her a wonder!” wrote one dog.
Well if you don't yet get a sense of what these poems are like,
here's #5 of "Her Bright Bottom". If you like it...go out and buy this chapbook.
I think if Harvey Goldner winds up being your guilty pleasure
that's a good thing. Enjoy.
Where Wanda's blood hits the grass, a small flame
flickers like a candle on a birthday cake or
the tongue of a snake. This light and a strobe of
lunar light copulate, and Lucy appears, not wan
and wispy like a Gothic ghost, but splendid and naked,
a scintillating hologram. She speaks: "you Rang?"
Wanda stutters: "What, what, what happened, Grandma?"
"After a sloppy gig in sleepy Santa Cruz we were
"in my bus (3 AM halfm oon) heading up the coast road.
Your granddaddy, Mud Dog, my drummer, sat at the
wheel, simultaneously blowing his harmonica, rolling
a join and constructing a baloney sandwich. Somehow
"he lost control, crossed the yellow line, and smashed
the guard rail. We fell forever. My Band--dead trashed"
Christopher J. Jarmick is an author, poet and fee based financial advisor now living in Seattle. He is President of PEN - Washington; former executive Vice President of the Washington Poets Association. He curates and hosts two poetry venues that feature published poets and open mics, because one without the other would kill the flowers in the garden. The novel he co-wrote in 200, The Glass Cocoon, is still in print. His poetry has been published in several magazines, newspapers, literary journals, online and in anthologies like Mute Note Earthward; Between Sleeps; and others.