marquette monthly

the new year

i greatly appreciate the beginning of a new year. this time frame provides an excellent opportunity to review past literary projects and productions. it also gives the creative artist a sense of a fresh new beginning. in short, i have hit this new year running and hope to continually make the bard res’ carpet smoke with my creative activity.

there are four new splake book titles that have early 2019 publication dates. “presa press” (editor eric greinke) in rockford, michigan will publish a collection of poems “anatomy of desire.” “transcendent-zero press” (editor dustin pickering) in houston, texas, will publish another short poetry collection “sacred and obscene.” “rusty truck press” (editor scot young) a missouri small press will creative a collection of splake poems for their “brown bag” poetry series. finally, gage press in battle creek, michigan, will finish the project “beyond brautigan creek.” note: this modest publication will contain both splake poems and a dvd attachment with the work.

 

2018

     the following references provide a brief review of the splake work that finished the recent old year.

gage press in battle creek, michigan, finished the collection of splake poetry in the chapbook “rectory.”

editor arnold skemer wrote a brief review of “rectory” in the 82nd edition of his “zyx” literary publication.

in the december issue of the “marquette monthly,” literary editor tyler tichenlaar wrote an excellent review of the splake “lost dreams” collection of short poems.

“iconoclast” edition #117 had a splake front cover photograph of his favorite feminine companion “annie.” the literary magazine editor phil wagner also wrote a short review of the splake book “final curtain.”

among my other late 2018 sources of small press literary space and ink, i was particularly pleased with the poems published in “ethos literary journal” (editor kiriti sengupta) in calcutta, india, “brevities” (editor joyce odam) in sacrameno, california, and “bear creek haiku” (editor ayaz) in longmont, colorado.

Splake_rectory

“rectory”

stillness

poet sacrificing music

for deep solitude

free of distractions

sound system silent

while facing blank page

yet still hearing murmurs

“carmina burana”

wild celebrating sounds

ottorino’s nocture

gentle breeze blowing

through pines of rome

vivaldi’s soft birdsongs

coming into spring

# # # #

 

middle-class-middling

many years ago

ted pixley

battle creek attorney

handling my divorce

strongly recommending

personal counseling

preventing painful separation

upon reflection

saving troubled marriage

would mean vacations

with overweight wife

stuffed in bermudas

rosetta café breakfast

arguing if pasties

should have rutabagas

time rapidly vanishing

retired professor

without a beard

never writing poetry

# # # #

 

“zyx”

editor arnold skemer

book review of “rectory”

     splake writes from a small office of the former st.anne’s church. it now services as an art center for the community. this chapbook contains the usual splakian musings, his diurnal activities, writer’s disappointments, frustrations of an elderly gent, snide comments (“graying husbands/pleasantly plump wives/somenhow still married to/summer vacations/wearing new levis, mall-mart bermudas/seeing the sights/no longer fucking.”) splake is very predictable but amusingly so. as usual, nice backgrounding in crusty decrepit calumet, the character of the north woods, like a chronicler of yoknapatawpha county.

 

“marquette monthly”

book editor tyler tichenlaar

review of “lost dreams”

 

“lost dreams” is yet another short volume of poetry from the prolific u.p. poet t. kilgore splake. this short volume consists of only fifteen pages of poems, but each page contains five short three-lined poems on it. the poems are not technically haikus (poems of seventeen syllables), but they are similar in their short and concise size. each poem has three to five words per line and three lines, and ranges from about fourteen to seventeen syllables on average. because the poems are not titled, one might think the book is one long poem, but the discerning reader will realize each stanza is a poem m in itself.

i like to think of these as being like “fortune cookies poems,” because each poem creates a single image or feeling by tying together a few connected images. the poems cover numerous themes, including childhood, alcoholism, music, movies, and old age. most have a cynical tone. splake always writes gritty poems and “lost dreams” is no exception. it’s not a volume for the faint of heart, but there are many truths here that need to be said.

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“iconoclast # 117”

editor phil wagner

review of “final curtain”

 

there are several core messages in mr. splake’s work. one of the main admonitions is to get off the false-premised hamster wheel of the consumerist middle class (those who are still left, that is).   he tried it – this other people’s idea of success – was pretty good at it, but non-lived in a constant state of anxiety and falsehood. when the muse called, he answered – indeed followed – damn the consequences.

to pursue an art in today’s society (especially as something more than a pastime or hobby) is looked upon as a fool’s errand (‘show me the money!’). “many are called but few are chosen.” such are the risks of rebelling against the social contract, conformity. in some poems the poet tells of loneliness, a life streamlined to simple pleasure. in the myth of the suffering artist there is often a happy (if not posthumous) ending. but the suffering is real, the price of the lifestyle often that of ‘a rose blooming unseen.’

splake_ethos.jpg

“ethos literary journal”

editor kiriti sengupta

suicide

 

paula’s weak moment

leaving me early

sad lonely feeling

nightly she returns

softly whispering

her lost love

still in my heart

# # # #

 

freedom

waking to birdsong

before first light

building small fire

boiling water from stream

instant coffee

oats in tin cup

ready for journey

picking way over deadfall

brushing aside cobwebs

escaping invisible satellites

government surveillance

knowing where i am

finding empty cave

remote cliffs heights

sitting around campfires

discussing with owls

wisdom magic poetry

# # # #

SplakeBrevities186.jpg

“brevities”

editor joyce odam

north tower’s 87th floor

diving into unknown

ten seconds totally alive

# # # #

fledgling bird

edge of nest

stretching small wings

# # # #

hiking alone at night

feeling coyotes breaths

hearing sounds of plants

# # # #

poet’s dream

tilting universe

touching soul of god

# # # #

 

“bear creek haiku”

editor ayaz daryl nielsen

steady river flowing

carrying poet’s soul

endless creative beauty

# # # #

desolation angels

kerouac and icarus

falling back to earth

# # # #

eyes tightly closed

soft hesitating lips

about to whisper something

# # # #

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SPRING TIME IN THE YOOP

if anyone besides myself reads about the ‘splake doings’ they will have noted a slight pause in my materials.  anna, my computer ‘techie’ and site genius recently had a baby daughter, which explains the brief literary vacation.  also noting the adventure shining in little ada’s eyes, i suspect that now anna certainly understands the demands of rat bastard time.

recently i have had two collections of splake poems published.  the “ghost light” chapbook was produced by gage press in downstate battle creek, michigan.  “last dance” was published by “transcendent-zero press, in houston, texas.
in addition, the february edition of “brevities,” edited by joyce and robin odam, in sacramento, california, had a special splake profile containing ten poems.
finally, tyler tichenaar, book editor of the “marquette monthly,” in marquette michigan, wrote a review of the splake book “graybeard memories: morning espresso musings” in the april issue of the “marquette monthly” publication.

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“ghost light” poems

quiet stillness

early november morning
first white dusting
winter finally settling in
older poet remembering
thanksgiving family dinners
stuff baked turkey
sweet potatoes pecan pie
currier and ives plates
horses pulling sleigh
across snowy countryside
mother father children
waiting holiday feast

heaven sent

dark night communion
eating drinking
body and blood of christ
rejoicing sacred heart
certain after death
entering holy kingdom
not going to hell
aging graybeard poet
denying eternal mystery
question without answer
instead hoping for
club majestic nights
country-western songs
vintage jukebox selections
icy pitcher beer
eightball challenges
quarters on table edge
cue ball off cushion
rule for winning
easy baby easy

splake1.jpg
“last dance” poems

motorcycles and poetry

kicking bike alive
exciting cc’s exploding
roaring engine power
like sexual climax
near-death experience
few klicks down the road
challenging adventure
as facing blank page
wrestling for words
fearing fatal accident
riding beyond red-line
writing not visceral enough
for poem’s final draft
still wind-blown pleasure
as wild bird soaring
heading toward heaven
until running out of gas

mysterious messages

waking in darkness
printer’s wild humming
wondering about words
roy neary
devils tower meeting
poem from orizaba
new mexican city blues
uncle walt’s command
take to open road
robert frost’s suggestions
hiking less traveled path
surprise haiku
gary synder’s pen
brother brautigan’s directions
secret trophy trout pond
david foster wallace
explaining new freedom
old papa hem
from across the river
describing what lies beyond

splake2.jpg

“brevities” poems

poet’s driven habits
ignoring everyone else
those talking art

# # # #

snow began slowly
steady quiet accumulation
april years away

# # # #

caffeine fried brain
before family and career
poet scribbling words

# # # #

mad poet
wild reckless passions
living beyond edge

# # # #

ink smeared page
writing until
blood stained words

# # # #

“marquette monthly” april, 2017

tyler tichelaar review

“graybeard memories: morning espresso musings”

Several of t. kilgore splake’s volumes of poetry have been reviewed in this column, but this one is different. While it has the typical splake lack of capitalization, it is also written in paragraph form. At first, I thought it was a long prose poem, and it certainly has some poetic moments, but it’s more prose than poem, which is understandable since it is splake’s autobiography.

I found graybeard memories interesting since it gave me insight into the personal life of this poet and made me better understand his poetry. It begins with splake sitting in the Rosetta Café in Calumet drinking coffee and feeling attracted to the young female barista, but he realizes she would never be interested in him. He goes on to describe himself: octogenarian, teeth falling out, no longer fertile.

Then he takes the reader back to his early years growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and how he eventually decided to pursue “the bitch-goddess of academic success” by attending Western Michigan University and then getting a teaching job in Battle Creek at Kellogg Community College. At times, teaching was not that enjoyable for him, but he did seem to care about his students and subject matter.

splake also walks us through his numerous relationships with the opposite sex. He got his college girlfriend pregnant and married her. They tried to be a couple, but eventually they divorced, which he describes as the “final chapter in a sad situation of two spoiled children who had made a mistake.”

splake would have two more failed marriages and more children. He seemed to have a knack for attracting women with psychological issues–the third wife threatened to kill  herself and make it look like he had murdered her.  splake admits his free spirit and penchant for alcohol didn’t help his marriages.

During all these years of teaching and marriage, splake began to make rip s to the Upper Peninsula, which seemed to be a saving grace for him.  During one trip, he came to terms with his drinking.  On another, he began writing poetry.  To this day, he isn’t sure what caused him to write poetry one morning, but he did and he showed his work to an English professor colleague who thought it was good.  Still doubtful about the quality of his poems, splake created a pseudonym to protect him from embarrassment–he combined the names of a fish he had caught, his first name’s initial and a name in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions to become t. kilgore splake.

Eventually, splake retired and moved to the U.P., first living in Munising and later in Calumet, where he currently lives.  The last chapters of the book describe the years he spent studying poetry until he finally bought a French beret to wear as a sign that he was ready to announce himself as a poet.  He describes his involvement with the local arts community, including the Vertin Gallery, editing the journal cliffs soundings and being given a Lifetime Achievement award by the U.P Writers Association.  The book includes several of splake’s photos of places mentioned in the book, especially around Calumet.

splake is in some ways your typical rough-living Hemingway type writer, but in other ways, he has a distinct voice.  This book will be welcomed by his fans because it gives his full story, only pieces of which could previously be gleaned from his poetry.

For more information, visit splake’s blog at https://tksplake.wordpress.com