Title: The Herald
Author: Dean J. Baker
Publisher: Mad Poet Press
Dean J. Baker is an edgy, opinionated Canadian poet whose work has been complimented by no less an authority than Irving Layton. I cannot disagree with the Nobel Prize nominee when he states that,
“Dean is a combination of thought and torment that has made him write more than a Baker’s dozen of fine poems…he might produce a collection that could astound us all.”
Baker’s compilation of poems entitled The Herald prove that he is a contemporary wordsmith of the finest caliber who injects each line with keen observation, poignant beauty and pain. He obviously writes from experience and reminisces about everything from childhood (Rice Lake, 1962) to relationships (License and A Friend), failed romance (Pollyanna and Matins) and the torment of his muse (A Jealous God).
One can sense the influence of Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan in particular with a pinch of Mordecai Richler attitude thrown in for good measure. However, Baker’s voice is uniquely his own and he knows how to wring emotion as well as remarkable, visceral landscapes from his pen.
Some of my favourites from The Herald include The Uselessness of Want, The Life of the Sensitive Kid, The Poetry Hotel, Coming of Age, Last Romantic, Invitation and…
What was I running from
when everything was
Shaking at the thought
of you, inside
each move I made
When I couldn’t say
who was called that night
in my pain
it is myself
I come upon like this
Dean J. Baker has a somewhat lewd sense of humour (that I can often appreciate) which is more evident in his descriptive and satiric prose, Baker’s Bad Boys, dedicated to his brother Terry and their naughty childhood delinquent poo-flinging escapades; and at times, an irascible intellect that does not seem to suffer fools gladly.
Baker is also a romantic 21st century man whose non-conformance to political correctness probably gets him into hot water with women but I’m sure they never stop falling for his astonishing way with words.