Award-winning author Floyd Salas assembles here a collection combining his classic, hard-hitting declamatory poems of the Sixties, focusing on politics, crime and society, with more reflective poems centering on family and lost loves. Though never gathered together in book form before, most of these poems have been previously published in esteemed literary journals and anthologies. Readers can discern such disparate influences as the Beats, the King James Bible and Rimbaud in these finely-crafted poems. “Salas ferries us along a river his soul travels. . . his stops are often for the imprisoned, the oppressed, the disenfranchised,” writes Andrena Zawinski, Features Editor for PoetryMagazine.com. Two-time California poet laureate Al Young writes of Highrunning Heart, “A superb storyteller whose language is poetry, Salas sings in full voice and always on-key.”
from the Foreword –
In each new age of poetry, when people start using their own language and their own experience instead of the established voice or subject matter, they create a new language of poetry.
In 1960, I read both Rimbaud and Baudelaire. Rimbaud had the most influence on me because he dared to be illogical. I tried his illogic, allowing the poem to perform, so to speak, mental gymnastics that surprised even me. I strove to seek where logic couldn’t reach in order to say something profoundly poetical. And, yes, I was influenced by the Beats, including their declamatory and list styles, and all the poets who read at San Francisco State during that vibrant period in the Sixties.
Other influences were religious. My Catholic heritage told. As a teenager, I used to read the Bible (before TV) in the evenings in my room alone. The influence of biblical subjects and rhythms is apparent in such poems included here as “A Lament on Original Sin” and “God and the City,” originally part of a planned work called “Prayers of Heresy.” Heresy is the ultimate religious act in which you disregard tradition in both religion and art — purposely seeking the unknown which brings you right back to Rimbaud.
My best advice to young poets? Keep your head in the clouds and your feet in the streets and tap into what is original only to you.