Thursday, January 08, 2009
(Jose Gouveia Front)
New book collects best of “Biker Poetry”
Jan 13, 2009 5PM Biker Poet, editor, activist, Jose Gouveia
Rubber Side Down. Edited by Joe Gouveia, Peddlar Bridges, and Susan Buck. (Archer Books PO BOX 1254 Santa Monica, CA. 93456) $16.
Did you know there is a Biker Poet movement? Bikers are not only Hell's Angels with leather and nefarious intent, but poets, on the road, burning rubber, and spouting odes to the endless highway. Joe Gouveia, poet, motorcycle enthusiast, and new head of the “Highway Poets Motor Cycle Club” had the good sense to edit an anthology of Biker bards. The poetry club, founded by Colorado T. Sky, boasts many fine poets in their ranks. Allen Ginsberg commented on the concept of “Biker Poets”(according to a history included in the anthology):
“The Highway Poets could be, for their generation, what the Beat Poets were for ours.” And for this lively subculture of poets this could indeed be the case.
The title “Rubber Side Down,” according to an essay in the book by Martin Jack Rosenblum means to ride safely, and “we shall meet again at the next café for coffee or swap meet for spare parts-if we have kept it down safely.” To the biker, cars are cages, vehicles of conformity.
Rosenblum defines Biker poetry, or at least the Biker poetry presented in this book:
“The poetry in this book is written by folks who are outside the cultural safety zone. Some ignore technique, some deplore it, some explore it beyond where workshop academics would confine it and some take a breather from the understood confines of a literary canon sensibility to gather a better voice because of a crazy, two-wheeled power drift into experiential reverie.”
I was pleased to see a number of poets that I know and have published appear on these pages including: Linda Lerner, K. Peddlar Bridges, and Marc Goldfinger.
Goldfinger has an intriguing prose poem “The State Trooper & The Biker Get Tested.” It involves his offbeat encounter with an offbeat State Trooper while riding his late wife's bike.
Naturally, many of the poets in this collection write of the vehicle of transcendence, the motorcycle. The beloved bike provides them with freedom from the grind of everyday. In her poem “It's Okay,” Susie Howard portrays the road as a trip that flies in the face of convention:
“But the road is free of that
It is the steady air against the skin
whipping hair and clothes
and flawed thinking from my mind
with the steady hum of opposing carburetors
passing by dinosaur Buicks
traveling to destinations of work,
lifestyle, maintenance, drone hood
while I follow no map but that of whim
and its steady song of
And Diane Wakoski in the “The Desert Motorcyclist” explains why it is better to ride a motorcycle than a man:
“Now I run away
to my dry desert,
the place where there is enough space
for my imagination
and nothing to drown it.
that is me.
And it is the man,
never the machine
who betrays me.”
If you never have been exposed to this genre, then get a strong grip, plant your rear on a leather hide, hear those cylinders roar, and take a ride.