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The Motor Hotels of Central Avenue: A Collection of Poetry Paperback – October 1, 2017
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
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About the Author
PW Covington has been invited to share his brand of NeoBeat poetic madness from the Mexican border to the Dakotas and from San Francisco's Beat Museum to Havana, Cuba. Covington's hard-lived experience and expansive world-view are hallmarks of his creative work. His poetry has won International praise and his short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. PW Covington lives in Northern New Mexico, two blocks off of historic Route 66.
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Among the poems, my favorites are the following: 1) "Down to the Ocean in Hopes" -- faintly reminded me of the conclusion to Kate Chopin's "The Awakening," yet the tone here is of renewal more so than despair. 2) "Quiet is a Color" -- pictures a drive from the heart of Texas toward New Mexico, the road's visuals comparable to hallucinated beauty. 3) "Concessions" – here I could almost perceive the earthy tones and desert odors of Pueblo territory! I spotted nods to Lone Star territory via "H.E.B." and "Crosses in the Bar Ditch"; plus, a very specific site in my area of southernmost Texas is mentioned in "If I Die in Philadelphia."
At times with unbridled expletives, caustic humor, or a minimalist flair, the poems convey such background experiences as military service ("10th Street"), legal sentencing ("Distance"), drug rehab ("Recovery"), and panhandling ("Navarro Street"). Relevant to current events, there are observations on colonialism in "Shores of the Cannon Ball (Mni Wiconi)," isolationism in "Walls," marred authority in "Never Believe a Cop," and international tragedy in "Friday the 13th (Paris 2015)." I appreciated seeing a bachelor's life reflected in entries such as "Laundromat Blues," and was impressed by analogies like the one found in "Value Menu."
Covington has a musicality to his verse that is uniquely his own, and it seems like I have seen his work somewhere around the web before. My favorites from this collection were "Walls" (p. 16), a short but effective poem with a very timely theme, "Amazon" (pp. 22-23), a poem about the titular website, and "West" (p. 75-76), a true travel poem.
There are many engaging titles among these, and the collection is attractive and professionally put together. Many thanks to author for providing his book for my unbiased review.
What do I mean by that? I mean that this book is "traveled" more than his previous collections.
This volume opens and closes with works of prose. Letters of correspondence to begin, and ending with a preview of short fiction, and in between, the journey, which is made clear by the names of the four sections that make up the bulk: "It's time to write a poem" is a single poem, and like final reminder before a trip, urges us to "commit poetry."
Next is Texas, a state PW lived in for a while and left recently. The poems are sometimes named after cities, though the one that moved me most was "Crosses in the bar ditch," which I'll reprint here with the author's permission:
All over Texas
You can see them
If you look
More and more of them, as you head south
The crosses in the bar ditches
They can be hard to hear
Through the oilfield drone
Over angry, country, radio
But they are there
All of the dreams that never arrived
At the places they were hoping for...
Bluebonnets sprout from the salty tears
Until neglect and cactus
And brutal summer comes
To the empty prayers
The cries for mercy
To the crosses in the bar ditch
Fittingly, PW moved out of Texas and settled in New Mexico, the name of the next section. I have never been there, but I know he's happier there (he will be even happier to tell you as much), and his work from there shows a different sort of exuberance than did the more introspective work produced by the conditions of Texas.
Nothing sums this up better than two lines from "Central and Eubank
(hurricanes and hand grenades)"
Those lines are:
Can't you see?
We're destroying idols, here!
This could be engraved on his tombstone with little objection from both his friends and enemies.
Last is "The Road." I find it funny that much of his work done on the road, in places new and unfamiliar, with a people raised differently, in cities he might never see again, show a love and sentimentality that is sometimes not as evident in others. No poem better expresses this than "If I die in Philadelphia," also a personal favorite from him.
Every book, like every travel, ends at some point, or perhaps we just start other journeys. If it suits you, think of this book as a travelogue of sorts, in the spirit of the old beats, so ably evoked by the final section. His words are vivid and the exhilaration, trepidation, discomfort, and rewards of travel are all here, for anyone who wants to go to places they've never been.
It reminds me of a bit of dialogue from another book.
"Who are you?"
"The place before this."
"The place following."
"Ah, a conversationalist of a certain cryptic style, I see. Seeking what, if you please?"
"Whatever you care to name."
"It makes no matter, is that what you mean?"
"But such an attitude, for having journeyed, doubtless, such great distances?"
"All distances are great."
"Surely not if I just cross the road."
"You quibble, and I'm not a philosopher. Though, lost in thought, I might traverse a whole world, pacing from one wall of my room to the other."
"Ah, then you're a kind of poet."
And not, you think, a maniac?"
"Curious assurance, to be asking of a stranger!"
"And why not a stranger?"
"But we've scarcely just met, I hardly know you!"
"A feeling I often share regarding myself..."
Pick up this book. Take a trip.