A. D. Winans
Musical Accompaniment by:
Sound Streettracks, 2008
Review by Hugh Fox
To be honest, at first I didn’t grasp exactly what Winans
was doing, but then, after about fifteen minutes of
listening to Winans read the psalms, I realized (the old
Irish Catholic in me slowly reviving) that what Winans was
doing was taking the original Psalms of David and other
biblical (New and Old Testament) pieces and using them as a
basis for deep meditations on the nature of U.S. politics
and the ever-present Class Struggle:
In the beginning, Reagan created Reaganomics
and reshaped the heavens and the earth
and life was without prosperity except for big business,
and industry saw that this was good and contributed to
Reaganomics in the form of political contributions,
and darkness was cast upon the poor and the elderly
and the spirit of the military moved upon all shores
and Reagan said, “Let there be light,” and divided the
rich from the poor.....
It took me a while to remember the scripture, In the
beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the
Word was God....” (The beginning of the Gospel
according to St. John).
Winan’s work so devastatingly effective is that it
invokes these old memories inside us and somehow links his
political commentary with sacred texts so that they really
penetrate and stick with us on both conscious and
temptation to take each poem here and trace it back to its
biblical origins. I found myself taking a bible out when
Winans began talking about the Reaganites, remembering
biblical references to the Amorites, and found myself going
through Joshua and other books trying to pinpoint the exact
texts Winans was using (and that still lingered on in my
fading memory)...and never quite finding them.
spend months pinpointing the texts that Winans uses. Like
the Beatitudes, beginning in the Gospel of Saint Luke,
Chapter 6, beginning with verse 20:
are ye poor; for yours in the kingdom of God.
Blessed are ye that hunger now: for you shall be filled.
Blessed are ye that weep now: for you shall laugh....
Winans transforms St. Luke:
are the rich for they shall become richer,
Blessed are the poor for they shall help the rich
Blessed are the meek for they shall become meeker,
Blessed are the oil companies for they shall inherit
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for Reaganomics
was created for them....
be more powerful than this?
In my (still
unpublished) book about Winans, I begin by placing
Winans in his San Francisco ambience and talk about the
influences on his work:
had been influenced by the usual
writers, from Camus and Fitzgerald to Pound and
Eliot, then the Beats like Brautigan and the like,
but it seems to have been that personal contact
with Micheline and Kaufman that pushed him over
into writing his own poetry
Winans: An Overview).
But then, I
end the book with an observation that nicely applies to
The Reagan Psalms.
you want to get a strong,
masterfully engineered sense
of the U.S.
in the last half a century,
Winans is a good place to start...
Winans work is a series of
masterful, emotional etchings of the U.S.
as it really, truly, realistically IS (p. 120).
I'm not saying that Obamaish is a rebirth of Reaganism,
but one thing for sure, the decaying
U.S. economics, the increasing unemployment and poverty,
is very closely akin to Winan’s
Reagan Psalms vision.
What we have
here is a real classic-classic, moving beyond influences and
schools into a voice that is totally Winan’s own.
See purchasing detail below.