Review by Alan Catlin: Kiss the Heathens by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

review first published in, Issue No. 37, Winter 2024

Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Kiss the Heathens, Roadside Press, available from 2023,
230 pages $20

Make no mistake about it, Kiss the Heathens, is a big ass book and true to its size and nature, it delivers the goods by taking names and seriously kicking ass. These are generally tight, clear- eyed narrative slices of life, as the poet sees it without extreme attitudes of drink, drugs, and general lack of focus. Yeah, there is a little of all that going on and some sleazy squeezing of tramp stamped women on the make, but there is nothing malicious or nasty about any of the carrying on. Who doesn’t, didn’t, want to get laid and have a good time when young? As the poems are not chronological, we share moments of Flanagan with his wife that show an intimacy based on a long term, positive, loving relationship. I might quibble that some of the later poems feel somewhat like padding on might have been best left out, but the final poem, “Arcade” dispels the less than wonderful moments with a strong closing picture of a group of heading nowhere video game addicts at play.

—Alan Catlin, author of Bar Guide for the Seriously Deranged and many others

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