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tearing the rag off the bush again
Steve Kowit reviewed by Charlie Vermont PDF E-mail
Crossing Borders: Poems by Steve Kowit, Drawings and Watercolors by Lenny Silverberg, Spuyten Duyvil 2010

This is a provocative collaboration depicting the concept of "interchangeable suffering,"

the substrate of which in Silverberg's art, is the refugee, the homeless, the victim on

purpose or by chance.The subjects include the slaughter at Bokovina, the enforced rampage at the Taedong River bridge(Korean War), nascent Afghanistan, the flow of people seeking work in the US across the Mexican border, and others. On paper, with more life size imagery the art would surely have a greater effect and recomend that galleries or museums consider it.


The collaboration is of long duration dating back to Brooklyn College and the draft into the army in the early 1960's. Their lives interwined with the art jazz and poetry in Greenwich Village, and short time later in San Francisco in and around Haight-Ashbury. Silverberg participated in the light shows at the Fillmore West, and was there when Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead entered their very short lived period of ecstasy,but one that still carries on.


Kowit a voice of conscience in his poems, though I would disagree to the extent he counts America out as a solution to many of the worlds problems and there are a myriad of examples of this, nevertheless, the suffering in the world continues to exist in great heaps. Even in the midst of plenty(for example obesity is one of America's worst epidemics), there are hordes of refugees and homeless throughout the world. There are also many Americans involved either privately or through the government in relief efforts(Steve Kowit keep up the pressure).


When I knew Silverberg we discussed things like whether "fullness was the other side of the void" and whether "excess(generally pleasure) lead to the palace of wisdom". His art for some time appears to have addressed human suffering in common forms. His, an interesting journey, emanating from an initial caldron of hedonism.


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