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  Going It Alone

Poetry by Paul Zarzyski
Bangtail Press

                  NOW AVAILABLE 
                      AMAZON BOOKS 
                    BARNES &  NOBLE 

The opening note to the back-cover credo of my latest publication, Going It Alone (Bangtail Press, 2022) reads, “When out of the blue, “Truth is like poetry. And most people (expletive) hate poetry” materialized as on-screen text during the film, The Big Short, my muses instantly anointed the maxim as their mantra and then, as they are prone to do, enticed revision: “Poetry is truth. And most people (expletive) hate truth.”

 More reverently and revealing, yet no less truthful, few-to-no poetry collections have made the N.Y. Times Best Seller list since its inception in 1931. Or, to couch it otherwise via this Zarzyski Dictum of yore, 

Aspiring Poets need to understand up front that they will forever be metaphorically connected to the zany film, Little Shop of Horrors, in which the carnivorous plant implores its horrorticulturist, Seymore, "FEEEEED ME! FEEEEED ME!” We Poets are very much akin to the saw-toothed potted beggar via our desperate, perpetual beseeching, “REEEEAD ME! REEEEAD ME!”

Which segues to poetry book reviews—their rarity and their acuity, as well as their venue, their audience. Going It Alone received the “Editor’s Pick” review in the Spring 2023 Issue of Montana Quarterly magazine.  In my opinion, the editor-publisher, Scott McMillion, would merit The Pulitzer Prize for Reviewing should such category exist. Not altogether what most would consider an “overtly flattering review,” but more honestly indicative of his capacity for not being one of those people who “hate truth,” Scott is a reader who calls ’em as he sees ’em, for which I remain humbled and honored.

  Editor's Pick by Scott McMillion



            First-Blush Responses from PZ Poet Friends


from Gary Thompson


“Your Book arrived.…  I poured a special nightcap of Knob Creek 9 over a single cube of ice, and sat in my reading chair and just enjoyed holding your book, which I have taken to calling “The PZ Tree.”  The cover came out even better than I had imagined— it’s gorgeous (the photo) and tantalizingly eerie— and I love it.  Your "Going It Alone" mantra on the back cover contrasts beautifully with the starkness of the no-title-no-author-no-nonsense cover. The book is an eye-stopper on every level.  Then, as I swirled the bourbon around in the glass, I dipped into a couple/three poems to reacquaint myself with the range of the collection.  I recalled each poem and raved in my mind about how fine they were.  I even read “Fatherless Father’s Day” out loud… and rejoiced.  It’s a damned good book and a damned handsome one at that.  I look forward to spending many more hours with the poems over the next how-many mornings/evenings in my red reading chair.  —GT, a believer”




from Marlagayle Painter

“After a challenging day—on the mundane plane of existence—I finally made it through the heat to the mailbox.  Tore the package open to get to the book and sat down to browse through it before going back to work.  I could not put it down.  Suddenly it was dusk.  It is so fine.  I don’t know how else to say it.  Maybe more eloquence will come.  I am sort of speechless now.  Bravo and, mostly, thank you for capturing so much of what hangs out in my mind and cannot be articulated.  All the poems are of deep importance to me and, I hope, to many others as well. Bravo.” 


from Andrew Guschausky

…I spent the weekend walking around the city and in the nearby mountains, stopping by a breakfast cafe early in the morning and a brew pub late in the afternoon, reading on the couch at home, and I was doing all of those things by myself.  Which is not to say that I was alone… no, I had Going It Alone with me as my constant companion...


…I can’t imagine a better companion these past few days than this book…. I was moved constantly, by the music, the moods, the sentiments and contents.  I was face to face with so much that was pleasantly familiar and so much that was welcomingly unfamiliar… I enjoyed the nourishing company.  It made me think differently, more broadly, maybe even more courageously. Certainly, more courageously.  Certainly, more creatively. It made me laugh, it made me revel in language, as the artful architecture of words on the page kept growing.  It made me pissed off.  It made me sad… sometimes terribly sad and I had to look away from the book as if the book was human…. To me, the fourth section was so necessary and so brave; it really acted as a kind of lifeblood to the other sections. Your heart is in every line, but its rhythm seems louder when you are contemplating human atrocity/ignorance/suffering.  It makes me think of W H Gass’s sentiment that he hated humanity… but he loved people.  Love and hate both show up in your poetry and it makes it clear to me that you approach your work with passion, a vivid passion that I find completely admirable.  But you always, without fail, find the right note to end on. To end with gratitude, to end with grace.”


front cover by Gordon Stevens

My most fervent shout-out to musician, music producer, photographer—
all- around Renaissance man, deep into his soul’s DNA helices—Gordon Stevens, who documented somewhere in Wyoming another PZ who, carved
in bark, lives on.  Gordon’s front-cover image, unframed and unimpeded by text, poetically beckons viewers to venture into the aspen stand, into the “quakies,” and to engage—via whatever courageous teleportation spirit
they can evoke—their own Going It Alone journeys.


back cover photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland



Further heartfelt gratitude to Jessica Brandi Lifland for her decades of capturing the most radiant light in which performers, staff, and fans have basked at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, where she framed—mere seconds before I, solo, forked the stage for a wild rodeo-poetry ride—the definitive “Going It Alone” back-cover photograph.

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