Review: For Dave Church, Poet: A Tribute #3 in Memoriam

Various Authors
Letters, poetry
2 pages
11” x 17” broadside
R. Emolo
Paterson, New Jersey
Review originally published on 6/28/09

I now have issues 1, 2, and 3 of this memorial broadside series by editor R. Emolo for Dave Church — the poet who died on Thanksgiving 2008, from a heartattack in the Providence taxi he drove for years — and by the time you get to issue 3, some of the material has fizzled out. I hate to say this, but it’s true. This issue is not the best of the series. This issue is mostly letters to the editor about Dave or regarding the submissions included about Dave by the authors, rather than gritty, deep material. The poems and writing are kind of generic tribute poems, as well, like they could be about anybody, sometimes seeming uninspired, as if the writers never actually knew him, just knew of him. One of the only actual poems here, of which all are taken from cut and paste sources, taped in and photocopied exactly as submitted, is so loaded with misspellings, typographical errors, and missing words that I can’t even enjoy the flow of the poem.

This issue also contains letters from the contributors regarding their previous poem submissions that aren’t even included in the broadside, which is confusing. For example, I have a letter printed in this issue, taken from a postcard that was not ever intended for printing and was published without my permission, that was written at the time I submitted my poem, “God’s lonely man,” to R. Emolo’s broadside project a few months back. The postcard says:

Here is my Church poem, if you do another broadside. The title of my poem comes from a line in Taxi Driver — fitting.

But … the poem was included in issue #2 of the memorial broadside series, not in this issue. So it’s like a tease — suspension with no release. There are several other instances of this in the issue, as well, which leads me to believe the editor ran out of material for completion of the project and was in too much of a hurry to get the issue released. I would rather that he’d waited until he had more poems and actual writings than printing material that just doesn’t seem necessary or that reads as filler.

On the flipside, I must say, at the same time, I’m glad he’s doing these tributes. As much as I wish he would wait to release them until he has more quality material, I do think it is important and necessary to keep Dave’s memory, commitment to the small press, and decades of work and words, alive in our writing community. I just wish there were more words left behind.

One can’t complain entirely, however, when the price is right; float R. a stamp, a buck, or just a letter of request, and he’ll mail you a copy. Even though it isn’t entirely quality material, it’s worth it if you are a Dave Church fan or friend, or if you just want to know more about the man and his impact on the independent press.