Sunday, August 25, 2019

Zine Review: "A Lesson In Longing: Words by Kaya Thompson" by Dave Wolff

A Lesson In Longing: Words by Kaya Thompson
Country of origin: USA
Released independently July 5, 2019
“A Lesson In Longing” is a poetry zine published by Kaya Thompson, a longtime poetry contributor whose work is posted here as Kaya Chaos. Kaya also has an interview here where she talks about her time singing for the local NYC punk band Deviant Behavior and her activities after they disbanded. It still seems like yesterday when I met her at a Murder Junkies show on Avenue A in 1995. The punk scene was different in those days; Giuliani’s “Quality of Life” agenda hadn’t been implemented yet and the gentrification of the Lower East Side had yet to begin. Coming back to the city after a long absence was like a raw, open wound. Not all the clubs are gone, but it feels like a void was left by those that were forced to close. Kaya’s poems read of a similar sensation, but from a personal perspective. The loss of innocence and resulting internal conflict is laid bare as she describes how her expectations in friendships and relationships were shattered by not so well-intentioned people. In the first piece she publishes in this zine, which is reflected in one way or the other in the following poems, she describes how deception and underhandedness can destroy innocence and create apathy in its stead, leading to self-destructive habits like alcohol and drug abuse, not only in the punk lifestyle but in all others. The difference is the accounts of such experienced are not whitewashed here, nor are any efforts made to soften the impact. You’re meant to feel the angst and disillusionment with other people and society, and meant to come to the realization that it exists for a reason, rather than it being adolescent rebellious fervor. A quote from the 1983 movie “Omen: The Final Conflict” came to mind while I was writing this: “Most people confuse evil with their own trivial lusts and perversions… true evil is as pure as innocence.” Keeping this in mind, this collection of poems is not so much an exercise in how deeply one can dive into despair, as it is a resolute, almost pathological, search for that lost innocence, to reject corruption, to regain desire and longing, to feel, to become fully human. This longing is evident in this zine’s most depressive sounding poems, which argues that the purest humanity can be found even in the darkest of places. -Dave Wolff

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