The Last Jazz Fan: And Other Poems
by Kenneth Salzmann
Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises

"The last Jazz fan slipped
from the world one night
like the amorphous
notes of a trumpet solo
at closing time."

Salzmann’s wizardry with words is on full display in his poems, bringing them to life in much the same way that a powerful musical rendition can stir the soul. Not only is his command of figurative devices—particularly the simile-—stellar, but his ability to juxtapose his knowledge of literature, history, and current events with elements of his poetry is remarkable. In “Progress Notes,” for example, the dynamic between the doctor, the nature of blood, and Macbeth is particularly riveting.

Immense depth and energy infuse the poetry. In “From the Copper Canyon Train,” the speaker weaves many thematic elements, from eternally running up the impossible canyon walls to references to conquistadores and the inherent fear that the people we call primitive were anything but. Whether it be “Riffs be-bopping across the sky as jazz fan returns to stardust,” celebrating Dia De Los Muertos, or “flame upon a pillow of fallen leaves,” the imagery is sending a seemingly clear message: live fully.

Perhaps the most intriguing and admirable quality of Salzmann’s work is its versatility. Even his foray into political inquiry is presented with such tact and grace that a larger constructive discussion on topics such as what the American flag represents would be unsurprising. While “Genealogy” and “By Any Standard” are certainly thought-provoking, “Transparency” lifts the veil concealing human character and helps the individual embrace self-realization. For poetry aficionados and the casual reader, this is one of the few poetry collections that grabs you from the opening poem with its intensity and never lets go.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home