Saturday, June 9, 2018

Book Review: THE DEATHERCIZER (Craig Michael) by Dave Wolff

Craig Michael
Published privately March 12, 1989
I met the author of this collection of poems and prose at a punk show in New York’s Tompkins Square Park. This meeting with Craig Michael turned out to be an epiphany of sorts. The East Village seems to cater to affluent residents at an increasing rate, but there are still those residents who refuse to relinquish their ground and are more active than ever educating the underprivileged. Today you still meet people of all kinds by being there and talking to people. You’d never expect them to be poets, authors, photographers, artists or ballet dancers, and many certainly wouldn’t expect them to be educated or politically aware. My research of punk culture has shown me how much it has contributed to art, music and literature for the last forty years, and from what I’ve seen on the street the revolution is far from over. Cases in point are the writings of Jeremy Void and the writings of Craig Michael. But where Jeremy Void assaults the listener of his spoken word albums with manic onslaughts of extreme anguish, isolation and eventual psychosis, Michael demonstrates a conscious, almost calculated decision to follow his own path, even if it means leaving people behind who are hesitant to join him or understand his reasons for doing so. As he establishes in the first piece run in this anthology, he is on a mission to write about world strife as a firsthand observer. His journey began in the early 1980s and his experiences are chronicled in over a hundred and fifty poems, written in a two year period between 1987 and 1988. By the amount of content and its descriptive quality there was a lot he experienced in this brief amount of time, enough to fit several volumes for most authors. He is meticulous and descriptive in his writing, and really takes time to put you into the experiences he recaptures on paper. Michael published this anthology exclusively for his family and friends rather than on a larger scale. I don’t know if he continued to write afterward and you may wonder why he didn’t look for publishing companies. Since there was no social media in the 80s publishing was far different than it is today and it was much more difficult for independent writers to land a deal. In a way this can be considered a good thing because reading his verse on relationships, violence in society and private soul searching is like uncovering a rare and forbidden treasure. It also makes you wonder how many other undiscovered poets are out there who have something to say. -Dave Wolff


  1. Intriguing! I would love to see Michael's book cover. It wasn't on your book review post.

  2. This was an inspiring article to read. I've read "The Deathercizer" book in its entirety growing up, until it was stolen.Each page transported me, as if I was there, like the Anarchist version of The Never Ending Story. I want my book back!