canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

4 pints till midnight
by Jason Gallagher
Self-published, date unknown.

The Great Jazz Penis and other poems
by Jason Gallagher
Self-published, 1998.

funeral home sandwiches: a collection of poetry
by Jason Gallagher
Self-published, 1999.

Chapbooks are the currency of the underground literary economy, which runs the gamut from offbeat comics photocopied into stapled booklets to hand printed mini books with limited print runs. Everything from throwaways to collectors items, in other words. Most chapbooks fall somewhere in the wild middle, and collectors can only hope that the smudged poems they're reading are written by a poet with the persistence to break out into the next sphere of literary marginalia: small press publishing.

The three chapbooks by Montreal-based poet Jason Gallagher under review here demonstrate such a persistence. They are also filled with sharp jags of wit and wisdom. The poems unfold in a colloquial voice, which will remind some of the poems of Charles Bukowski, others perhaps of Milton Acorn or Alden Nowlen.

One poem begins with this startling image:

One early morning
after some heavy drinking
I chased an axe wielding man
Down St-Laurent street
With a stool that I had stole from a pizza parlor.

The decorum here comes from the streets. The genre is bar room tales, film noir and a bit of Dr. Suess. Bob Dylan once said he was a "burlesque" entertainer. So is Jason Gallagher. His poems have the cast of realism, but they are much more than documentary. These are tales from the underground mediated through an intelligent imagination. They are fine poems and a good laugh. The poem cited above (called "Darwinism") ends:

This was a night
From a thousand nights
When things
Just seemed to occur

To purchase Jason Gallagher's chapbooks, send a big bag of money ($5 plus postage) to Jason at the following address: 57 Marie Anne W., Montreal, Quebec, H2W 1B7, Canada. Visit his web site at







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