F&B Indie Book Review: Gagaku Meat

Indie published journalistic bio of Steve Richmond: Gagaku

Hard to find, but an incredibly gritty and worthwhile read for poetry fans, Gagku is the biography of “meat” poet Steve Richmond. Llike many poets and artists and authors, he led a difficult life—of epic proportions.

Book Gagaku Meat: The Steve Richmond Story
By Snow Ryan

A promising indie release—worth the hunt but hard to find—from small publisher Stovepiper Books Media caught the attention of many with it’s hard journalistic approach to a biography of poet Steve Richmond. Gagaku Meat: the Life and Times of Steve Richmond, a 19,000 word publication, won wide acclaim on the Huffington Post and other website. At times, it reads like a crazy mystery, at others like a dark, slice-of-grim life biography, and always it is emotional and gritty.
Steve Richmond was an accomplished poet who began publishing in 1964. He is probably best known for the works in the Wormwood diaries. Journalist-biographer Mike Daly gives a gritty picture of Richmond’s difficult life and how the poet struggled through life.
Daly’s work is masterful as he details the life of this iconic poet. Richmond’s life is widely regarded as a difficult one—like many artists, poets, struggling authors and indies—and the book details his decades long struggles.
Poet Richmond was a Southern California native, known for this tough, masculine form of writing. He could be compared with the other masculine poets of the day, and was involved in what is known as the meat school of poetry.

"Meat poet" Steve Richmond was a heroin addict

Meat poet Steve Richmond was a prolific poet, heroin addict, who spent part of his life in homeless shelters, and the last few years as a millionaire.

He was also associated with the mid career of poet Vicent Bukowski, his mentor.In Gagaku Meat, Daly unravels the chaotic forces and influences that led Richmond to compose his poetry. He discusses some of the development of his work. Notably, Richmond was a heroin addict most of his life and saw and witnessed plenty of the seedy side of life.
After living in homeless shelters, Richmond inherited a 2 million dollar settlement from his Southern California family, and spent the majority of it on drugs until his eventual sobriety. Unfortunately, it was a short lived experience. He died in 2009 only 3 years after becoming sober.
Gagaku is poetry based on Japanese Shinto verse. Like Shinto verse, Richmond’s work used meaty, simple verses and cadences in poetic rhythm.
Daly does a great job in the book of discussing the tortured life and psyche of Richmond who dove and dug into the heart of poetry to ferret out what was important to him, and to make a difference in the publishing world. His friend and collaborator Bukowski described him as a talented but disturbed man.
Other important facts to know both about Richmond is that he composed approximately 8,000 to 9,000 poems in his lifetime. He was quite prolific, and had a stark view of reality, as would befit a junkie.
Daly does a thorough job in this book of tracing Richmond’s life, his ideals and influences. He talks about Richmond’s time with the underground press and his influences by Jim Morrison and small media publishing outlets of the day. He interviewed Ben Pleasants who did a story on Richmond for an LA paper,as well as the mentor Bukowski.
Gagaku Meat the Life and Times of Steve Richmond is a must for anyone who loves poetry. I recommend this book for all of those interested in counter culture poetry, and it’s effects.
The book is difficult to find, but worth the search.
Published April 20th 2009 by Stovepiper Books Media (first published April 2009)
ISBN13 9781127644421
Gagaku Meat: The Steve Richmond Story
Author Mike Daley

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