Black Liquor


Dennis E. Bolen

Dennis E. Bolen’s volume of poetry, Black Liquor, continues his exploration of modern disconnection and the disparate paths taken by those railing against the austere landscape of their lives.

Imbued with lyrical evocations of lost childhood, mature love and deep friendship contrasted against brutal depictions of grueling labour, industrial mishap, historical misfortune and often hilarious disappointment, Black Liquor progresses to an appreciation of being alive, against the odds. Bolen writes in the pacey cadences of contemporary speech, tough and tender. His quirky use of metaphorical story charged with biting imagery makes these deeply autobiographical poems an exhilaration.

As in his previous writings, five novels and two collections of short fiction—among them Stupid Crimes (originally published by Anvil Press), Stand in Hell (Random House), Kaspoit! (Anvil Press), and Anticipated Results (Arsenal Pulp Press)—this new book explores the varieties of disaffection, this time in poetry and this time as remembrance of things past.

“Bolen, who writes with Proust’s hallowed sense of history and Chandler’s knack for sharp metaphors, is just so damn good with words that you find yourself stepping up your reading, transfixed by the effects of syntax and wondering at the remarkable things language can do in the quietest moments of a poem, even as you want to push further in the captivating narrative arc he’s built.”

—Peter Babiak, subTerrain

“…you’ll want to be reading these poems out loud. And with an urgent yet breathless voice because you’ll be racing behind images and emotions that are both devastating and achingly tender.”

—M.A.C. Farrant, The Vancouver Sun

“From rough justice on the Island to the piss-stained ugliness of dissolute Lower Mainland life, Black Liquor nicely skewers the gentle hypocrisies of postwar, Pacific Northwest optimism. Bolen’s verse sucks the marrow of postmodern disillusionment with tenderness and irony–but without nostalgia.”

—Daniel Gawthrop, The Georgia Straight

Praise for Bolen’s previous books:

…a writer at the top of his game…it’s hard not to go back and savour each story a second time.

—Quill & Quire

…Bolen’s spare prose and empathy for his characters make for a compelling book.

—Publishers Weekly

…recalls Raymond Carver…tightly integrated structure following neatly from thesis to antithesis to synthesis.

—National Post

 …most closely resembles a synthetic cubist painting. Stylistically, reading Bolen is a pleasure.