Safe Word, Donald Dunbar’s second collection of poetry, acts as a tonic against spiritual death. This book is the kompromat of the undersoul, the blotter paper in the plea deal, a crystal jutting out of the center of an otherwise-innocent forehead. Dunbar chops, screws, solders, and sutures forms of thought and feeling into abominations you might just fall in love with, and be consumed by. Never be bored again.
Frank O’Hara meets Hart Crane with a gasoline tank of Frank Stanford—that’s the energy of the colloquial, ungovernable universe of Donald Dunbar’s poems in Safe Word.
A tremendous terror and thrill overcame me as I read these language explosions, harmonics, and tours de force— acts torqued out of the last century and dragged, high on diction, into this one. Wait, are many of these poems sonnets?
More than a poetry collection, this is a compendium for surviving the Internet age, the nuclear age, and our own ragged, aging lives.
Donald Dunbar, at his best, is better than Donald Dunbar. Damn right, he's better than yours. Even his worst lines are better than the best of the best being produced in reputable poetry factories from here to nowhere fast, all available online, and for a song! But that's not what you want to hear, is it? I didn't think so. So read this. This is the future of American poetry right now, and I'm willing to put your money on it, homie.
What Donald Dunbar knows: the desert is peaceful, structure’s still pastoral, life is a mystery, how to help. Bernadette Mayer once asked, “Are poems like dream representations of the absolute beauty of the future?” Thanks to Ohio, et al, it’s harder every day to believe in that absolute beauty, but what else do you have to offer? Donald glitzes up the abyss with the browsing contrary shapes of these momentary incandescences, obscenely attractive strangers keeping a soft focus on the scalpel.
Reading Donald Dunbar is like getting high with Rosie from The Jetsons while a cosmic Facebook feed scrolls by outside the window. His voice is unique among modern voices— simultaneously crisp and cloudy, like a day.