consignment the Americans say
waiting to be cashed in
the moment the death exchange loses interest
on our various performances
(opening lines of the title poem)
Eddie Woods (NYC, 1940) is an American poet, prose writer, editor and publisher who lived and travelled in various parts of the world, both East and West, before eventually settling in Amsterdam, where in 1978 he started Ins & Outs magazine with Jane Harvey and two years later Ins & Outs Press with Jane Harvey and Henk van der Does. In 1981 Ins & Outs Press published his poetry compilation ‘Sale or Return’, which includes fine Dutch facing translations of his poems by Hans Plomp. Some of these poems had appeared earlier in various magazines such as International Times, Crippled Warlords, Anarchist Review and Gay Sunshine.
The 13 poems in this handsome edition reflect Woods’ travels and revolve around recurrent themes in his work. There are poems about sex, love, death, gods, demons, the clap and drugs, some of which are set in Amsterdam, others in Bangkok, in Hong Kong, or on Bali. The speed at which Woods (a former journalist for The Bangkok Post and other newspapers) is known to write his prose is also felt throughout this collection of verses, but here Woods’ talent for spot-on phrasing serves another purpose than storytelling. His fast free verse captures highly personal events, thoughts, desires and fears, but manages to transcend the fleeting personal level at the same time. In Woods’ poems personal themes evolve into big universal themes and amazingly transform the poet’s unique life into Everyman’s: ‘… Here in the shadows my own reflection / red lights left other voyagers burn / years cry out thin moments decay / seize my heart in a rush of fire…’ (from ‘Song to Ujjain’, dedicated to Ira Cohen). Other poems in this compilation were dedicated to Dana Young, Andreas Baader and Jane Harvey.