Dr. Thomas Fink, a creative poet and performer from the City University of New York, LaGuardia held a poetry reading March 31. Dr. Fink recited several of his latest verse and abstract poetry in four different modes: Long and short poetry, a poetic/dramatic play, and series poetry. Dr. Fink’s works of poetry include “Clarity and Other Poems,” “No Appointment Necessary,” “After Taxes,” “Gossip: A Book of Poems,” and “Surprise Visit.”
The first long poem, “Milk,” was read in a calm and timid voice. Dr. Fink brought his personality to the background in order to highlight the speaker of the poem. “Milk” described a child’s consciousness and the system of language they apply as they mature. Dr. Fink said it describes a child’s “conscious intentions with unconscious outcomes.”
Flowing from one poem to the next, Dr. Fink brought a different voice and personality to each poem he performed. The following poem, “After Taxes,” was recited in a loud and boisterous manner. Dr. Fink barely paused to breathe in between words. It was like a massive jumble of intricate medical terms and extensive vocabulary all mixed together.
Needless to say, it was difficult deciphering the message Dr. Fink portrayed to the audience as far as spoken words go, but the manner in which he spoke helped to clarify the mood of each piece. For example, in the abstract poem “Genetic Whistle Stops,” Dr. Fink spoke of the American government and included quite a few digs to the economy. It incorporated phrases like “They think they know butter, but they really know jam!”
Dr. Fink went on to a few works of short poetry, ranging his performance voices to British accents, advertising fast-paced chatter, French accents, sing-song tones, southern accents, and Yiddish-English accents. A few poems included phrases such as “Do you have to ‘have to’? Does the sun have to? It chooses – you have to,” and “how can we obtain enough soap to wash the ocean?”
Clever play on words encompassed Dr. Fink’s poem “Preshrunk Oaf Offense,” which translates to “Presidential Oath of Office” and in the collaborative play “Invisible Surgeon,” incessant banter with nonsense sentences such as “when you fling your feces, your hands get dirty” erupting from the three actors.
Dr. Fink concluded with a few series poems, some called Non-Sonnets because the form looks nothing like a typical sonnet. “Dented Reprise” series had a creative take on 1960s rock ‘n’ roll in which Dr. Fink sang the phrases to a Bob Dylan song (which Dr. Fink changed to “Blistered Tangerine Can”) and an interesting take on the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.”
His final readings, “Yinglish Strophies,” were read in an English-Yiddish accent. In “Yinglish Strophies No. 9,” Dr. Fink said in his thick accent, “Some friends grow out you, or you grow out them!”
Dr. Fink’s poetry reading made for an interesting evening. It was creative, imaginative, and quite humorous at times. It provided a new insight to modern poetry and gave the audience a fresh view of contemporary works. As far as the performing aspect went, Dr. Fink said he reads to entertain and is always looking for new ways to recite his works. This is one artist who definitely goes against the grain.