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The Golem of Los Angeles
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Tony gives an overview of the book:

Tony Barnstone is not a polite poet. He is a poet with attitude and passion, and his feet are firmly planted in a this-world Los Angeles of gangbangers, plastic surgery, and teens smoking pot with a wet towel rolled against the door. These are sexy, slangy, funny poems, and strangely enough many of the sexiest and slangiest of them are sonnets or villanelles. In addition to the personal poems, the many narrative poems here bring to life the dead of the Holocaust, the heroin addict who gets a job in Beijing so he can't get the drug, the Arab dhow captain off the coast of Kenya, and the physicist studying neutrinos at the South Pole. Perhaps the greatest pleasure of the book is the pervasive sense of humor (as the woman in one poem says, I think I could / be anorexic. I just don't have / the discipline!" Rodney Jones writes of Barnstone's first book, Impure,...
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Tony Barnstone is not a polite poet. He is a poet with attitude and passion, and his feet are firmly planted in a this-world Los Angeles of gangbangers, plastic surgery, and teens smoking pot with a wet towel rolled against the door. These are sexy, slangy, funny poems, and strangely enough many of the sexiest and slangiest of them are sonnets or villanelles. In addition to the personal poems, the many narrative poems here bring to life the dead of the Holocaust, the heroin addict who gets a job in Beijing so he can't get the drug, the Arab dhow captain off the coast of Kenya, and the physicist studying neutrinos at the South Pole.

Perhaps the greatest pleasure of the book is the pervasive sense of humor (as the woman in one poem says, I think I could / be anorexic. I just don't have / the discipline!" Rodney Jones writes of Barnstone's first book, Impure, "Tony Barnstone unabashedly celebrates bodily joy and pokes the backside of everything prudish and puritanical. He is a poet of profound amusement..."; In this wide-ranging, prize-winning book, Barnstone continues to entertain, standing naked like the nude model of one the book's poems, and "turning into art."

Before it won the 2006 Benjamin Saltman Award in Poetry, The Golem of Los Angeles was a finalist for the Dorsett Prize, 2005, the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, 2005, the May Swenson Poetry Prize, 2005 and 2006, the 2nd Annual Robert E. Lee & Ruth I. Wilson Poetry Book Award, 2005, the Ashland Poetry Prize, 2005, and the Prairie Schooner Prize Book in Poetry, 2004; it was a runner-up for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Competition, 2005 and the Main Street Rag Chapbook Contest, 2002; and it was a semi-finalist for the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry, 2006, the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, 2005 and the Brittingham Prize, 2004 and 2006. Poems from the book have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize seven times, and "The 167th Psalm of Elvis" won a Pushcart Prize in 2006.

Praise for The Golem of Los Angeles:

Tony Barnstone's poems are besotted with the world--slot machines in Vegas, ants and centipedes and rivers, fires and beaches and filtered forest light, love in its carnal splendor, and the charnel squalor when love dies. Yet the Contents page in The Golem of Los Angeles--full of Psalms, Parables, Testaments, Sermons, Sutras, even the occasional Spell--makes clear that Barnstone's deepest impulse is religious: to praise and to pray. I praise this book. May it fly, reader, into your hand.

Charles Harper Webb

The Golem of Los Angeles gives us poetry full of pain, horror, despair--and beauty. Tony Barnstone gives new form and meaning to the parable, the sermon, the psalm, the sutra. The reader cries, yet laughs in delight.

Maxine Hong Kingston

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The 167th Psalm of Elvis

 

Blessed are the marble breasts of Venus,

those ancient miracles, for they are upright and milk white

and they point above the heads of the crowd in the casino.

Blessed are the crowds that play, and whose reflections

sway in the polish of her eggshell eyes,

for they circle like birds around the games,

and they are beautiful and helpless.

Bless the fast glances that handle the waitress,

bless her miniskirt toga and the flame-gold scotch,

and bless the gamblers who gaze at the stage.

Remember also the dancer and remember her dance,

her long neck arched like a wild white goose,

the tassels on her nipples that shoot like sparks,

and bless the legs and bless the breasts

for they are fruit and honey and they are generous to the eyes.

Have mercy on my wallet, the dollars I punch into the slot,

and grace the wheels swapping clubs and hearts.

Mercy on me too, as I stumble as if in a hashish haze

watching the reels spin away, for I am a blown fuse

and I need someone to bless me before it's too late.

Honor the chance in a million, the slot machine jolting,

the yellow light flashing, honor the voice that calls jackpot,

and the coins that crush into the brushed steel tray,

for there is a time for winning and a time for losing

and if you cast your bread upon the waters

you will find it again after many days.

Pity the crowd around the blessed winner

all patting his back as if it rubs off,

this juice, this force, this whatever

that might save them from their own cursed luck.

And pity the poor winner whose hand claws back

into his bucket of coins and who cannot walk away,

because he'd do anything for the feeling

he had when the great pattern rose from the chaos

of cherries and lemons and diamonds and stars

and he knew for that moment he was blessed.

tony-barnstone's picture

Note from the author coming soon...

About Tony

I was born in Middletown, Connecticut, into a very unusual family.  My father, Willis Barnstone, was a young professor at Wesleyan University at that time.  When I was two, we left Connecticut to live in Spain on a Guggenheim Fellowship my father had been granted, and so my...

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Published Reviews

Feb.20.2008

Beneath the electric bill, discarded beer caps and spilled ashtray in the disaster I call my car, Impure-a collection of poetry by Whittier College prof and local poet Tony Barnstone-beckons days...

Feb.20.2008

"Antonyms" is the most technically interesting of the death/breath poems. It's built like Herbert's "Easter Wings," starting with a pair of four feet per line and decreasing by a foot...