Speaking personally, the years since 2008 have been especially self-reflective and transformative, perhaps more so than any previous period. It goes without saying that the macrocosm has experienced countless landmark transformations throughout that span of time, and artists, musicians, writers and other exponents of creative impulse have reflected that turbulent zeitgeist each in a particular way, as evidenced by this newly released collection from L.A. poet Gerald Locklin, one of the most prolific American poets of recent decades, and notably perhaps the only Los Angeles academic to win the friendship of natural Charles Bukowski. For years an avid supporter of the small press, he has frequently served as poetry editor of the Chiron Review, and was also among the first enthusiastic responders to this reporter’s recently founded press, an act for which said reporter thanks him, now and always.
Deep Meanings, available now for order online and from select local bookstores, contains over a hundred poems written 2008 and published in a wide variety of small, independent literary magazines. Section One is comprised of a series of reflections by the author on the paradox he lives as an academic with his heart strongly aligned with the underground and the non-class-based creative impulse of poetry or “making,” while Section Two consists of Locklin’s poetic examination of a number of works of art, from Ahmad Jamal‘s Poinciana to mark Rothko‘s Untitled. Also examined in this section are the lives of artists Frida (Freida) Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Section Three of Deep meanings is an ocverview of the effect of artist Edward Hopper’s 2010 and 2011 editions of calendar photos. Hopper is best known for his classic, “Night Hawks at the Diner,” but who painted a number of other fine works, among them a Lighthouse Hill, full of “long shadows and lazy sunlight.” Art, says Locklin is “A lonely profession, but suffused with/ The beauty that has flowed/ From the instincts of anonymous visionaries.”
These are poems about the nature of Art itself. Locklin has a unique ability to address profound subjects in a subtle and colloquial style that is deceptive simple yet ironically precise. It's all unified by the strong persona of the poet's autobiographical commentary. He is master of everyday speech employed for insight. Ironic humor is used effectively in these poems. Like Bukowski and Corso, Locklin has successfully obscured the difference between light verse and serious poetry.