About Little Black Daydream
“These poems hurtle through life, wide-eyed and bewildered by what has been abandoned, by what has been lost, by what is hurtling past—“The telegram came today: I will never reach the moon.” Yet, in spite of the wreckage, Little Black Daydream bristles with shards of wisdom and moments of sheer joy.”
“Wry, spry, entrancing and intelligent, the poems of Little Black Daydream invite us into a richly imagined future: not just post-apocalyptic, but post-everything. What a haunting, dark, and oddly comic world, where inhabitants “fashion hobo bags out of surplus Che Guevara tee-shirts / and fill them with the molars of the dead,” and where “the Secretary of Consolidated Debt tells his sons each morning: / when I was your age, no independent clause.” We wake from our Little Black Daydream bolstered by our imaginative sojourn in this precisely rendered world. This book is a major accomplishment.”
—Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Unmentionables
“Little Black Daydream is a chronicle of post-capitalist America. With a precise ear for the American patois, it addresses the uncertainty of the future at the exact moment when those questions are at the forefront of our culture. The book teems with the dazzling detritus of desire, capitalism, and apocalypse—and the poems demonstrate an astonishing adeptness at pushing language to portray this strange moment in our histories, both the personal and the fantastical.”
“Little Black Daydream clearly represents a step-up for Steve Kistulentz after his sizzling earlier book, The Luckless Age. The second book is, for poets, as perilous a venture as the second album is for musicians. Steve’s imagination remains deeply steeped in the excesses, madness, and vulnerability of masculinity in contemporary America, but his new poems are more panoramic and outer-directed. His elegies are urgent and hard-edged—a rarity in the genre. I am intrigued by his handling of the recent American past, in poems that manage to fuse nostalgia and anti-nostalgia. Three lines that sum up his approach to damage control, both cultural and personal, are “Part of being human is to specialize in repair, / and pray that when called upon, you are able / to raise the hood of a rusted Chevrolet. . .” This is a prayer we all pray.”
About The Luckless Age
In his first book, the Benjamin Saltman Award-winning collection The Luckless Age, poet Steve Kistulentz delivers a sharp and operatic rebuttal to the false optimism and persistent distractions of the Reagan era, painting a realist portrait of the America more familiar to the citizens left behind in the name of progress. This is art brut, an investigation of the America of installment debt and easy payment plans, a place where the government tries to convince us that ketchup is a vegetable and that nutrition is a five-pound block of cheese.
The Luckless Age is the aftermath of America’s burned down days, after the assassinations of the 1960s, the conspiracies and gas lines of the 1970s, and the plastic jingoism and simple slogans of the 1980s. Yet it is more than just an elegy to the naïve optimism of the past. These urgent lyrics tell another story too, one illuminated by the persistent and abiding hope that America itself is enduring enough to live up to its promises. It is the ecstatic music of liberation found in the opening chords of our greatest rock and roll anthems and the glittering prizes of mega-lotteries and super showcase showdowns. Equal parts funeral dirge and redemption song, this book synthesizes a beautiful music out of the cacophony of factory noise, special reports, 45 rpm records, and automobile noise that defined our 20th century.
“If a reader is lucky, he or she will get to savor the dark, sardonic wit of Steve Kistulentz’s debut collection, The Luckless Age. Readers will admire this book’s end-of-the century elegance, its lean necessity, its tenderness for those seemingly transient riffs that are actually burned into our brains. Note well that this book is no cutesy pop culture sparklefest–it has a deeper, richer feel than that. It’s the burnt bulb beneath the neon shimmer, the last leavings after a night of bruises and blues. Yes, the songs he remembers are familiar, but they’ve never haunted me quite this way before.”
“Why do broken boys pick up guitars?” To make ecstatic music, as Steve Kistulentz does in these ardent, amped-up, reckless rock n’ roll poems. From Lou Reed to the Knack, Skylab to Soupy Sales, The Luckless Age captures the wicked energy and anarchic entropy of American culture and so gives voice to an age, a place, a human life. This is an auspicious and heartily welcome debut.
“What a lush book, one that teems with life the way the Amazon Basin does; there’s poison everywhere but vitality, too. Steve Kistulentz watches the sun sink past America’s smokestacks and the dying dreams of its citizens, and then, through the power of his lines, he makes it come up again, revealing a world of bruised beauty. There’s an unstoppable life force at work in these poems, one so powerful it’ll outlive language itself.”
“The Luckless Age responds to a culture that constantly bombards us with brand names, celebrities, rock and roll rants and presidential lies, porn and war by bombarding back to give a counter-offense of testimony and song. Sprawling and discursive, expansive as stadium anthems and forceful as everclear, Steve Kistulentz’s poems have a hedonistic vigor of language and purpose. Reader, you can rest later.
Steve Kistulentz writes with passion and the deep throaty growl of the American heartland. We hear the squawk and moan of music in an America that’s a hot mess, beautiful and gawkish, and guilty of never knowing how to tame its testosterone, grow up, look around the world, see if there’s anyone else here. You can taste this poetry on your tongue; it’s sharp and wicked and reminds you of the best of your bad lovers.