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The Autobiography of a Gay Man: My Belated Review of poet Dom Schwab’s [blank]; or, The Fall; or, The Sincerely Sad and Depressive Micropoetry Cycle

Fawzy Zablah

*I started this review of Dom’s poetry chapbook before Donald Trump’s Election as President of the USA. Part I is before, and Part 2 is after.***

Part I – Before – during Obama’s term.

Reading Dom Schwab’s poetry chapbook, [blank] feels like the discarded poetic scribbles to an epic autobiography of a young gay poet from South Bend, Indiana examining his life and dedication to love, family, work, soul, America. Every skillfully crafted sentence feels like it carries the weight of a great voice being born.

The book is filled with beautiful lines to read out loud; sentences that echo in your brain long after reading them. Lines such as:  “I know I am my mother and I know she is her father.”

This is not another trite chapbook of poetry–there is an authentic voice here yearning to come out. Through each brief section you are transported into the mind of a gay man existing in our modern America, his family, his challenges, his goals, his love, his ego, his id.

Open to almost any page and you will get wonderful sentences that are bursting with life. Read it in chronological order and you will get the autobiography of a gay man that has the same wants, fears, aspirations as any man.

The self doubt is there: “I’m not serious about finding a job because I aspire to be a writer, but I barely write and, truthfully: I know I am no good.”

This is a barely twenty-two page chapbook but after reading it, I had the feeling like I’d just finished reading a fully  realized novel about a person getting ready to give birth to a new version of themselves. It was satisfying. It was a complete thought. Dom Schwab would be wise to use this chapbook as a template for a longer work.

In the briefest passages, Schwab draws exemplary portraits of the main character:

“At a social gathering of gay men, I mostly just sat in the corner analyzing everyone, making judgments….”

Throughout the book, you will subconsciously follow a long poetic string from Whitman to Ginsberg to Schwab – the same electric energy is there.

Part II

I’m now rereading this little chapbook as a matter of life and death. It has been four days after America elected Donald Trump. I woke up Wednesday morning like most of the population, in a new uncertain world. A new America where being LGBQT can legally make you a second class citizen or worse, get you killed. As I sit at my computer, there are people planning the demise of our freedoms that we have taken for granted. America, for the first time in its modern history, is facing one of its greatest challenges that will permanently change the country and maybe turn it into a myth like Atlantis. The myth of America will be talked about for many years, when Historians debate the exact moment the death knell came. Whoever you are…living in the USA now, no matter where you’re originally from, or color of your skin or sexual preference or identity…are you ready to fight for the dream of America? Are you ready to storm the gates of hell to save America? Are you ready to call out racism, sexism, hate, hypocrisy, lies, and ignorance for what it is? To not mince words when facing evil. A pig with lipstick is still a pig. Are you ready to preserve your neighbor’s freedom? For that is the great idea that makes America great; your neighbor’s freedom is your freedom. Will you fight against the voices of hate? If you are, then volunteer, write, paint, sing, speak out and spread kindness and don’t let the beautiful dream that is America slip from our hands. Like the kind poets who volunteered at Army hospitals during the Civil War to heal the warriors, only kindness and love will save us. Literature like the poetry of Dom Schwab is the “patriotic” drum beating loudly, for there is nothing more American than Walt Whitman, nothing more American than James Baldwin, there is nothing more American than the individual fighting against all odds to change unfair laws and push us into a more “perfect union.”

I leave you with one more quote from Dom Schwab that should be our rallying cry when storming against the hate, and the pessimism:

“Tired of and sad about the world, but also in love with and in awe of it.”

Five Questions With Poet Dom Schwab


AUTHOR BIO:: Fawzy Zablah is a graduate of the American public school library system. He is the author of the short story collection Ciao! Miami (Little Havana Press, 2006) and the novel Rarity of the Century (Tiny TOE Press, 2014). His short story, This Modern Man is Beat, was adapted into an award winning short film by screenwriter David Schroeder and director Alex Merkin in 2015. You can follow his ramblings at: https://fawzyzablah.tumblr.com/

November 23, 2018 9:49 pm

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