Twilight of the Dictators (PDF)

by The Poet's Press

Twilight of the Dictators, first published in 1992, gathered together poems written by Rutherford and Vanderbeck (unknown to one another) from the late 1960s through the fall of the Berlin Wall. Both poets felt a deep kinship with their fellow artists behind the Iron Curtain and had written about the invasion of Czechoslovakia; the Stalin terror and its effects on artists like Shostakovich; the dreariness and paranoia of life in East Germany; and the jubilation both poets felt as Communism collapsed upon itself in 1989. The book's shamelessly libertarian tone made it the most shunned book ever published by The Poet's Press. Events since then have prompted the poets to add more poems about bad behavior, East and West. As Rutherford writes in the afterword to the book:

This book was not "politically correct" when it was published in 1992 ... This new edition, published in the wake of the Balkan wars, 9/11, and the ascent of American fascism under Cheney and Bush, is again “politically incorrect.” Our newer poems take on the Taliban, Serbian incendiary bombing of Bosnian libraries, and  the Cheney/Bush war machine. It was also an opportunity to reflect on ourselves as the Atom Bomb generation, and to debate whether, with global warming, we have finally reached a crisis that we cannot fix. In balance, this longer book is an equal opportunity offender of orthodoxy.
In this 136-page volume, illustrated with Vanderbeck's fiendishly sinister line drawings, the poets cover a vast landscape of political horrors, sometimes with an appropriate sense of outrage or despair, other times with satire or a withering, Gogolian irony. Events related here include Stalin's oppression of composer Dmitri Shostakovich; the suicide of Czech student Jan Palach; the arrest of the Treblinka prison guard named "Ivan the Terrible"; the beating of Romanian writers by athletes; daring escapes across the Berlin Wall; governmental grave robbing in Weimar; Communist bosses on the run; the fate of all those Stalin and Lenin statues; the Serbian destruction of the state library in Bosnia; the Taliban's dynamiting of Buddhas; and "wartime" impressions of the Cheney/Bush era.

Published May, 2009. 136 pp., oversize paperback.

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