Friday, April 30, 2010

Mini Book Review: Mute by Raymond Luczak

To end National Poetry Month, I am writing a final book review of Raymond Luczak's Mute. This is going to be a brief review of a very fascinating and compelling book of poems that I could write much more about if I had the time.

The first thing that struck me about this book is its size. The book is tiny. It is probably about 3 x 4, which makes it stand out amongst "normal" sized books, but who wants to be normal?

For me, this book was a window into a new world. The poems in this collection focus on deaf gay men and their interactions with other deaf and hearing men. For me (a hearing man), this was an insightful book on a topic that I've seen very little written about. About two years ago, Dustin had an interest in learning sign language and we watched various videos from the library and learned just a bit about the deaf community, but not nearly enough and nothing about the deaf gay community.

The opening poem, "How to Fall for a Deaf Man," is the perfect beginning to the book. It goes through all the things you should do and should not do when dating a deaf man. It's touching and memorable with such lines as "Do not ask him the sign for FUCK. / He is tired of showing how." These poems hold no punches when it comes to the harshness many deaf people face on a daily basis and within the gay community.

Other outstanding poems include "Algae," "You Died Today," and the closing poem "Orphans." This last poem does a great job of showcasing the bond that is formed between deaf people. They become like family to each other (ever heard that before?). It also highlights that exclusion one can feel by being deaf in a hearing family. In this way, I felt connected to the poems as a gay man and saw, perhaps for the first time, some parallels between the gay community and the deaf community.

Luczak does a service to the poetry world by tackling these subjects with the right amount of heart and directness. These poems are ones to come back to and luckily the book is small enough to carry in your pocket.

-Stephen (Pocket Gay)


  1. Nice review. Alas, I'm gonna have to watch my budget if I keep reading your blog -- this is now the second book in as many weeks that you've recommended and that I aim to purchase. (And "Watchmen" podcast was entertaining -- I like how you start with one idea and see where it takes you and then it comes back full circle. With that poem's title, I wasn't sure where it would wind up.)

  2. Thanks Ron. I've actually heard that from another reader as well. I will warn you I just purchased five new poetry books that I haven't read yet, but might get reviewed on here when I do.

  3. I love that you reviewed this book! It's on my list to read after Philip F. Clark sent me a link about it. I had a deaf neighbor as a kid (who I mention briefly in the poem "The Book of David" from My Life as Adam). I loved watching the interaction between him and his brother. It was beautiful. I think I have to order this book TODAY.

  4. Bryan- I think you would really like this book a lot, so order it now! It has some great poems in it.