Saturday, October 15, 2016

Book Review: LIFE IN THE PAST FRAME (Steven Michael Pape) by Dave Wolff

Steven Michael Pape
With images by Davidson Photography
Readers of this blog and the print zine should be well aware of Steven Pape as his work has been covered extensively. Released this year, Life In The Past Frame is his latest collection of verse (36 poems in all) and his first official poetry/photography collaboration. A photographer since 1980, Alan Davidson perpetually seeks to discover the beauty in all he captures on camera. As you can see even in the dark and surreal images he contributes to this anthology, he finds it in falling rain, run down sections of town, abandoned cars, droplets of blood, graffiti, headstones, isolated leafless trees, bleak autumn nights and so on. These images are sharp and the angles he photographs them from show his perception of those Cimmerian landscapes candidly. A few more depict what nature might look like in hell, countryside surrounding what resembles an abandoned church in the middle of nowhere, and settings that appear to show nature in a more conventional manner though implied strangeness exists there too. All these add new dimension to what Pape gathers for this collection, fueling your imagination and opening new doors of perception so to speak. The comparison to photographers who have sudden moments of inspiration and writers who have sudden moments of inspiration helps to enhance the connection between the poems and accompanying pictures. It’s a quote from William S. Burroughs reading, “Photographers will tell you that often their best shots are accidents; writers will tell you the same” and a foreword of sorts. The poem Life In The Past Frame that introduces this book announces voices long silenced are about to speak again through the poet’s hands. The tone darkens from here, communicating mental images of the less forgiving sides of nature, abandoned city streets and an unseen spirit world. One poem that stands out after this is Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out as it calls back to what life was like in the late 1960s. I get potent vibes of Jim Morrison from Pape’s work in these pages; the imagery and the feelings evoked by it are similar in many ways. This is the next step forward for both these artists. For the big picture I’d recommend reading all Pape’s previous publications. -Dave Wolff

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