Julian Isaza, writer

Excuse the title as it was my attempt at sounding profound and snappy. While these do not describe me they certainly do this short book of poems “Muse, Um” by Larry O. Dean. 

What first caught my eyes besides the clever title was the etch a sketch of “American Gothic”. It showcases an appreciation for art while approaching it in a playful way preparing us for the jovial stanzas, and a trip into the frivolous mind of a poet who has a wonderful sense of humor. These poems are written from Dean’s inspiration after a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, each poem is unique as Dean draws influence from different pieces of art, some of these poems are immensely interesting as they feel as timeless as the piece itself.

There are a few poems that seem to follow more of a stream of consciousness that ends with very little pay off, but the majority of these poems are fantastically penned. “Young Peasant Having Her Coffee” is truly mentally stimulating, it paints such a vivid picture of what feels to be a timeless era. We see a young woman drinking her coffee but Dean’s words make us think beyond that. Is she in a pensive mood? Or will she begin her chores soon? His words on this piece truly caught my attention and even made me appreciate the painting that much more.

An amusing entry with an even more amusing corresponding piece of artwork, “Monkeys Boxing” features an old timey looking boxing match between two monkeys. The words chosen by Dean were clearly calculated, while a more simple author may have used “swing”, Dean goes for the more correct term “brachiate” which shows this poet’s utilization of the English language is masterful. A quadrumanous round of applause is in order. In this poem, as well as a few others, Dean’s use of spacing is quite compelling, you can tell there was thought behind these crafted lines.

“Mr. Pointy “ gives the notion that one is having a conversation with themself making it all the more gripping to read.  “Unwrapping The Mummy” takes a step by step presentation, comically walking you through, well, unwrapping a mummy! This is a wonderfully sarcastic take on a training video-esque approach to unwrapping a mummy.

This book is a brisk read, offering a few chuckles but I caught myself wondering why it was not just a bit shorter. A few of the poems towards the end were lengthy and just failed to catch my attention. Overall this set of poems were a joy to read and I encourage you to pick up a copy and to also view the pieces of art that inspired them. This book was published by “Finishing Line Press” and it can be purchased on their website as well as amazon.com. You can also see Dean read from his book on Sept 25, starting at 7 p.m. at the Reveler located at 3403 N. Damen Ave.