- Kind: Perfectbound
- Pages: 74
- Language: English
- Published: March, 2015
- ISBN: 978-1-939929-29-7
David M. Katz, in his Stanzas on Oz, speaks with ease, clarity, compassion, and erudition of the Great Things: power, money, death, art, life, and love. Depicting the rise and fall of institutions and empires in various forms, Katz depicts in spare, beautiful prosody the temporality of such things. Relationships end. Jobs are lost. Empires fall. Loved ones die. These events have harrowing human consequences. Katz’s search for a way to Oz leads him to a conclusion: Art points to the truth. Art brings one into the reality of who one is, the continuous humanizing search for Oz, that moment of perfect being. He shows this truth in this book of powerful, evocative poems, reflecting through the lives of poets and philosophers and presidents and former teachers and employees and lovers and children the need for compassion and authenticity in one’s dealings with one another and of the shortness of existence. Furthermore, Katz shows that what and whom one loves is imbued with an immortality. Love is that which brings life and sustains it. One’s beloved is one’s truest creation. If it were possible to exceed the grasp of his previous wonderful work Claims of Home, David M. Katz’s Stanzas on Oz succeeds. A must-have. —Oran Ryan
These poems are like the New York poet who wrote them: accomplished, metropolitan, eclectic, and street-smart. David Katz is the wizard who waves to us from a carousel of forms that he has mastered, and we go with him, taken by the craft and persuasion of his art. He’s at home in the halls of finance and old bookstores, at ease with both Steve Jobs and Rimbaud. His poems know how to laugh, but they are informed by the bitter wisdom of maturity. He depicts poor, struggling souls caught up in the “creative destruction” of the marketplace, where profit uncouples from trust and “Nothing’s out of nothing made, / And no one’s bills are promptly paid.” In the crush of startups and carve-ups, people get cast aside, like the employee of 20 years who gets shown the door in “At the Chophouse,” a heartbreaking tour de force. But the redemption is in the poetry, and Katz pays homage to the guild: Auden, Hardy, Pound, Breton, Ginsberg, and Frank O’Hara. —John Foy
Stanzas on Oz, by David Katz, brings extraordinary gifts to the page even when talking about “pickled watermelon.” It requires the lapidary precision of a uniquely honed sensibility to describe D.H. Lawrence as a “’Piano’/…Past Freud and melancholy, playing itself.” Whether as homage tinged with irony in the tender apologia pro vita sua of “Between Covers,” or as uncompromising existential insight in “Schadenfreude,” the poems that comprise this remarkable collection are crystalline. Beyond special effects, with a hand steadied by the wisdom that comes to some, he pulls away the curtain to reveal a dance of courage, heart, and mind by which we are ensouled. Such is the wizardry of Katz’s Oz. —Paul Pines
The poetry world, like so many others, is frequently obsessed with the young, the new, the up-and-coming. David M. Katz reminds us—or should—that dads can be cool, that one can have a proper day job without selling out or turning a blind eye to corporate sociopathy, and that New Formalism and Modernism, both at their best informed by poetic and intellectual rigor, are thoroughly compatible. Stanzas on Oz is David M. Katz’s best book yet. —Quincy R. Lehr
I want to memorize “The Man who Dreamed
Of Faeryland” by Yeats, the first of three
Poems my teacher Richard Ellmann taught
To show us that a poem stood alone
Without biography or history,
A would-be life, a model of the human.
The second, Auden’s “Autumn Song,” reflected
Nothing but itself, a skeleton
Of desiccated leaves, stroller wheels,
And nannies in their graves. The third was lost
Inside the glamour of a tiny-footed
Muse, pedaling our legacy in music:
“Piano,” buried heart of Lawrence, fact
Past Freud and melancholy, playing itself.
David M. Katz was born in New York City, where he works as a financial journalist. He is the author of Claims of Home, Poems 1984−2010 (Dos Madres) and The Warrior in the Forest, Poems 1971−1978 (House of Keys). Poems of his have appeared in Alabama Literary Review, American Arts Quarterly, The Cortland Review, The New Criterion, PN Review, and The Raintown Review.