Tom is indeed a flaneur poet! 'Flaneur' is a gorgeous, replete French noun referring to a person. Its literal meaning is a stroller, lounger or loafer but it has come to refer to an urbanite who wanders with no other purpose than to observe contemporary life. A perfect role for a poet and a perfect epithet for his lovely poetry, for much of it derives from superb observations of life and their meaning in New York's mega-urban environment which most would miss were it not for the insight his poetry provides. This is a supreme role for the poet, not to be a bombast, not a polemicist, but to lead the reader to awareness and empathy otherwise missed.
What hits you as your read these poems is the breath of optimism and joy that is all too often obliterated in the claustrophobic alleys and high rise blocks of a big city like New York. Tom writes of a determination to remain in touch with the core of life itself, with the little delights that elevate us that are to be found if you only have the clarity to look and take the time to do so. You cannot help but be uplifted by a poem in which he describes sharing an early morning with a squirrel or casually mentions the companionship of a cat. All that makes New York an attractive, exciting place to visit is not necessarily geared to raising the soul, other than its fantastic art, theatre and poetry tradition. But Tom finds those gems that are there if you stop looking up at the soaring pillars of steel and the excess of bright lights.
Yet these are not latter day hippy anthems or 21st century neo-romanticism, Tom's poetry is itself routed in the city and there is a clear debt to other prominent American poets in his style of writing. There is more than a little of Kerouac and Bukowski in the way he writes and the subject/message he is selling. 'Winged Ones' published in October 2020 by Mason Street Journal finds hope on the city street in the unlikely guise of a an eccentric old man with a dog. It may not be unique for poets to find insight and inspiration in the lowly and ordinary but it is a decidedly American predisposition arising out of its history as a land for the common man. Chuck Bukowski made similar connections as does his natural inheritor Tom Waits and Kerouac drove that lonely 'Road' in search of the same insights eventually finding them in isolation and nature. New York is a wonderfully familiar place, you feel you know it and, when you first visit, it seems like somewhere you already call home. Tom's descriptions of early morning in his apartment made me feel homesick for a city I love and his poems are not a romantic against a soulless city, they are a paean to it and to its life that is vibrant and meaningful in ways beyond but including the obvious.
You cannot help but connect with the fact that these poems were probably written during and certainly arrived at Portsmouth Poetry in the midst of a global pandemic where we have all felt trapped and threatened. Yet they are a delightful antidote to the inevitable pessimism and depressive mind set Covid 19 has oppressed us with. Tom writes positive, energising poems about a life that can be good and uplifting even in a bustling urban setting, written in a precise easily read style. I urge you, check them out here on our page and then visit The Free Poet, Mason Street Journal, Jalmurra and Back Channels Journal for more.
We are proud to publish tom's poetry on the 'Our Poets' page
You can find Tom Pennacchini's poetry on the following websites:
©Josh Brown 2021