I interviewed Michael Katz in September in Hollywood, Florida. It was great to talk all things poetry and our love of the poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Katz is a successful attorney, but he doesn't let his profession get in the way of writing poetry (and for good measure).
No Turning Back is Katz's first collection of poetry, though one could hardly tell it after reading his little slices of life, many set in Montreal where he grew up. Perhaps the evocative title tugs at that common refrain "you can never go home."
Regardless, No Turning Back demonstrates that the poet's power lies in brevity. You will find no epic poetry inside the handsome hardback pages filled with artistic photos. Poetos is a good name for it. This is where a collection of poems and photos are compiled together. Katz told me he thought it was important to visualize poetry. Who can argue with his vision? Turning through the pages one sometimes wonders if the photos or associated poems came first.
In the end it matters not. Katz poetry is the essence of a short story melted down into its tight core of poetry. His whimsical pieces are "St. Viateur Bagel Factory," "Cavendish Mall," and "Time to Party." Some poems tell of events (like relatives arguing) instead of showing the emotion springing from these events. Hot bagels are described instead the effect on the person standing before the oven on a cold Montreal night. These are the whimsical pieces and at times there is no guesswork behind their meaning. Near the end of the collection is the welcome surprise of "Skidoo," which Bombardier, Inc should have emblazoned on the wall of its headquarter lobby in homage to its former snowmobile brand.
Michael Katz has a way of turning a poem on a dime as found in "Rain" and "Turning a Corner." His effusion in "So High the Sky" is my favorite and is a poetic accomplishment to be debated and discussed in university classrooms. It is dark and fully of never-ending mystery.
And that's where Katz shines--in his darker efforts. "Not," "Yellow Blanket," "Rain," "The Homeless Man," "Detritus," and "Bone" are presented to readers with dramatic effect. They hint at one thing and give you another. There is no escaping the versification. The darker efforts are in touch with nature in only the way a Montrealer can be and exist somewhere out of time. I hope for more of these haunting efforts in the future.
On reading No Turning Back one realizes Katz is a poet who just happens to practice law, not the other way around. If you are looking for a handsome poetry book for the holidays and one that evokes everything Montreal and the great province of Quebec, click here to buy No Turning Back.