by Timothy David Rey. $12; NewTown. Writers Press; 78 pages
This slim volume is an introduction to the talents of a Chicago-based writer/performer. There are 11 poems and four performance pieces. The poems range from the personal to commentary on the human condition. The performance pieces, according to Rey, provided the opportunity to express themes and observations "… in a way that I felt my poetry never could." As amusing as these pieces are, they were meant, of course (just as are the poems) to be experienced orally. So one is tempted to read this volume as a form of resume of the artist's body of work. And, in a way, that is what it is.
The poetry section kicks off by urging Rey's fellow artists to sing out, as Langston Hughes used to do: "C'mon somebody, c'mon." Tinkling with musical references, this one has a bitter undertone. "And they still say by the way that dark skin is a curse…."
Rey moves on in other poems to muse over religion, fame and other topics. Then, there's Laramiea touching remembrance of Matthew Shepherd: "If your heart must be tugged let it snag on a fence in Laramie." This poem, and Flagstaff, were the ones that stayed with me. In Flagstaff, Rey conveys the essence of the northern Arizona countryside and native American history as well as the taste of mango salsa and cumin. It is a heady mixture.
I confess here that I am clumsy and unschooled in poetry. So I had to work some at catching what Rey was after in many of his poems. This is not necessarily a bad thing. A poet who makes you think as your eye dances over his lines is to be respected.
In the performances section, Rey reminisces on life as a starving artist, sharing an apartment with an Irish immigrant on Chicago's Near North Side; a night in a D.C. gay strip club; a summer with Adam; and an infatuation with a fashion model.
Little Victories is an introduction to a promising young writer who has already gained accolades such as winning Project Exploration, a writing competition from The Poetry Center of Chicago. In 2002, Rey co-founded the annual queer performance showcase Solo Homo.