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Book Review :: a dangerous vacation by Dale Houstman

Guest Post by Susan Kay Anderson

Dale Houstman is one of the avant-garde poets often published in Caliban in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and in the 2000s as Caliban’s later incarnation, Caliban Online, edited and published by Lawrence R. Smith. On Facebook, recently, Houstman inventories his personal library under “My Unsightly Library.” It is great to see his writing; it is like Caliban has come back to life. Much like the Dada expressionists after the First World War, Houstman is as much an artist as he is a poet and writer/reader, and we get to see his surreal view at work.

Caliban Online features Houstman’s work in book form, along with half a dozen other Caliban contributors on a page called “Caliban’s Bookshelf.” These can be downloaded free of charge. Houstman’s poetry book (his sole publication), a dangerous vacation, is beautiful with its red titles and tiny dots which frame black letters on white paper, and the poems are arranged mainly in couplets and tercet stanzas; very musical looking and vibrant.

“They are ‘like Rorschach ink blots,’” Houstman says. Take a peek and be prepared to be fascinated by his pyrotechnics, by his electric mind.

a dangerous vacation by Dale Houstman. Caliban Online, 2017.

Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson lives in southwestern Oregon’s Umpqua River Basin. Her long poem “Man’s West Once” was selected for Barrow Street Journal’s “4 X 2 Project” and is included in Mezzanine (2019). Anderson also published Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast (2021).

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