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Ronald Baatz | Bird Effort

The blog Medusa’s Kitchen from Rattlesnake Press in Sacramento has this review dated April 10, 2009

BIRD EFFORT by Ronald Baatz. Kamini Press. Ringvagen 8, 4th Floor. SE-117 26 Stockholm, Sweden. Limited to 225, 125 signed and numbered.

The poetry of Ronald Baatz sings with unparalleled beauty, and Bird Effort is one of the best examples of that song. I like Baatz’s work. He tends to draw the reader into his voice, and, once inside, you cannot help but become part of the song that he sings. Kamini Press’s edition of Bird Effort is smooth and stylistic, too. I highly recommend that the reader of this review go out of his or her way and secure a copy of it. Trust me, you won’t regret the purchase. —B.L. Kennedy, Reviewer-in-Residence


Sunday, March 22, 2009, REVIEW: ”Bird Effort”

BIRD EFFORT by Ronald Baatz. Kamini Press Ringvagen 8 4th floor SE-117 26, Stockholm, Sweden

This is another of those gorgeous little editions Henry Denander, who’s a poet of considerable talents himself, is producing on his Kamini Press, and number 4 in the series is another selection of poems by Ronald Baatz. 46 (I make it!) American tanka, one might as well call them, and two haiku about nature, animals and ageing–which may not sound promising to anyone who prefers urban poetry or who isn’t versed in the traditional forms Ronald adapts so marvellously to the modern idiom. But trust me if you can! The poetry is melancholy, funny, lyrical and even the simplest observation echoes in the mind with revealed truths for a long time afterwards.You’ll read it, then you’ll step outside and notice something you’ve never seen before. He’s the successor to Kerouac as a poet in adapted Chinese and Japanese verse forms, to my mind, is Ronald, and very few people could have taken Jack’s mantle off his shoulders. Posted by Fred Abbey at 4:51 AM

doug holder's blogBird Effort by Ronald Baatz, Kamini Press (Sweden and Greece)

By Barbara Bialick

When turning to read Ronald Baatz’ new chapbook, BIRD EFFORT, first you note it’s undersized with a handsome bird watercolor cover and some 24 pages of minimalist poems without much punctuation by an experienced poet. Will it be easy to read, you wonder, but no, the book is very deeply written about death as visualized through nature imagery, particularly of birds…

But who is the poem’s persona speaking to? That remains a mystery, though now and again he’ll mention either the presence of or a memory of his mother, his dead father, old girlfriends, his three-legged dog, a dead pet canary, and yes, the lord. There in the foothills of the Catskills in New York, nature and the seasons are always present, ultimately leading him to conclude “how soft my ashes will be…” He maintains sadness throughout, wishing he could be as happy as his dog “just being let in”…

You wonder who else is there because the goal or theme of the book is expressed early: “You sing to the bird in me/I sing to the bird in you/an effort/we love to face/each dawn.” With that line’s staccato rhythm, he also suggests a pace like bird songs.

“If time had a shadow…,” he says, “It’d be a swiftness having/no nest to return to”. “enough/sleep is so difficult/now dreams of my dead father/have come to/spend the winter/Oh lord, let me stay drunk somehow/without all this drinking…”

The life in the poems is often cold to him. There are “crows in fog-/their backs turned to me/ignoring me”; and “winter’s white shoulders–just how beautiful and cold/they really are.” Or his old three-legged dog ”chasing after/a winter sun/that’s cold and/hobbling on one leg”.

To go on pulling beautiful quotes would be unfair to the author and reader. Readers there certainly should be. It’s a nice pocket-size book to carry with you on a nature walk when you might wish to ponder poems about the cruelty of death in the elegance of nature. By all means read them out loud…By Barbara Bialick, author of Time Leaves (Ibbetson Street Press) Read the review at the blog

There are so many wonderful small presses out there, doing all manner of work, in all manner of styles. One of the finest operations around is Kamini Press out of Sweden. The quality and care put into their books is obvious even before you hold one of their books in your hands: they are, as the cliché goes, a sight to behold.

Once in hand, first impressions are confirmed: the cover, the art, the paper, and the overall production is outstanding. Their statement of intent from their website says it all. Respect the poetry with the highest quality production possible, the rest will follow. It makes those of us on the lower end of things hang our heads in shame.

All this before even arriving at the first words. The poetry itself. Bird Effort by Ronald Baatz is No. 4 in the ”Kamini Press Poetry Series” and it is a perfect little gem. It begins:

When the stream overflowed
the long grass
is combed close to the earth

You sing to the bird in me
I sing to the bird in you–
an effort
we love to face
each dawn

There is a depth of feeling in these poems delicately hinted at, subtly revealed:

Leave me bread
at least a few slices
leave me your voice
at least a few words
to go with the bread

Snow this morning
when I part the curtains
after getting out of bed
one rib
at a time

A sudden shift in perspective, and the introspective mode becomes all-embracing:

winter is losing its grip-
in my sleep
I hear the pond’s spine

hanging off the hook
in a phone booth
hanging off
the earth

And again:

her canary’s grave
she catches the reflection
of lovely orange feathers
in the spoon

The old die old
sometimes the young
die young
and the little we know
the harsh winds blow

This beautiful little book contains 50 small poems, many 5 lines each, all tankas in their mood and construction, beautiful in their revelation. There is a simultaneous sadness and acceptance, a joy tempered by the real, a resonating wisdom. I can’t resist – here is one more:

So many crows-
as though the earth
is turning black
from so many bones
buried in it

Can’t blame the crickets
for crying out hour after hour-
summer having lied about
how long
it’d stay

This is the small press at its finest, the quality of work matched by the quality of the production, a beautiful reflection of life, work, dedication, and truth.

small press review – March-April 2010 – 42 Nos. 3-4 Issues 446-447 Vol by Hugh Fox.

Bird Effort is a beautifully artis-tic little book of poetry by Catskills poet Ronald Baatz, all the poems brief imagistic meditations that have the feeling of carefully measured Haiku about them: “To hold/ win-ter’s white shoulders/ is to realize/ just how beautiful and cold/ they really are.” (p. 13). It’s strange how, even when Baatz writes about the horrors of life on planet Rest in Peace, the work still comes out with a sense of wing- flapping civility about it. Nothing is really horrible for Baatz, but just part of to-be-mini-recorded reality: “The old die old/ sometimes the young/ die young/ and the little we know/ the harsh winds blow.” (p. 18). In a sense the whole book is a se-ries of mini-sermons on accepting life the way it is, not fighting its multiple-realities, but merely facingwhat is: “The stars over the lake/ so old and brittle looking – / I stop rowing, rest my back/ and think of how soft/ my ashes will be.” (p. 31) It’s a real lesson in condensation and whittling down to essentials, not the too common prose poeti-cized, but the heights and depths of existence turned into the briefest of all possible reality-lozenges. Hugh Fox

Ron Silliman mentionend on his blog Ronald Baatz Bird Effort. Please click his portrait on the left to visit his page.