by Dale Jensen
Publisher: Sugartown Publishing
Date: May 2014
Reading Yew Nork made me feel like I was huddled beneath the streetlamps of Paris gathered with Surrealist poets, André Breton and Benjamin Péret smoking Galloises. Except this was possibly New York’s Gotham City and Dale Jensen was my guide. The poet took me on a trip through different physical and emotional landscapes as he stands on the precipice of his old age.
In the opening poem, “Armweary Traveler,” Jensen observes:
the statue of liberty is much less impressive if people wear hats in front of you / those eyes that remember everything that happened…and so, the poet chooses to visit New York City where the pulse runs like / it did when I was young.
Jensen visits old neighborhoods, different deaths, laundromats, Greenwich Village, searches for the Gotham Book store in Manhattan, observes kids playing catch and makes a trek to the beach. He writes a paean to “Freud’s Cigar,” the man who opened the dream door to the unconscious for many creative artists, including the Surrealists. Jensen writes: everything’s a fire hydrant sometimes…so which leg to lift now.
Several of his poems like “Aunted,” play with our ability to hear different syntactical structures:
thes amet time
ha da visi on:
an dat rapdo or
Acknowledging his debt to the Surrealists of the twentieth century, his love poem For Judy is reminiscent of Breton’s Freedom of Love. Jensen writes: i hold your moon in my hands / like an archaeopteryx…
Jensen is no stranger to poetry that defies that usual narrative voice which predominates today’s American poetry landscape. Author of six books and three chapbooks he has been involved in the poetry community of the Bay Area for several decades, helping to give new and developing poets a voice at reading series throughout San Francisco and the East Bay, but always at the edge of experimentation and being true to his own path. Yew Nork is Jensen’s coming out party as a full-fledged American Surrealist poet who can still find wonder everywhere around him.