The Michigan Daily
Tuesday, April 7, 1992
Poet Mark Webster is
by Darcy Lockman
M ark Webster was a poet, a graduate student in Creative Writing in the
University's MFA program. He died unexpectedly of heart failure over a
year ago at the age of 29.
Webster's dream did not die with him, however. His work lives and
breathes with the publication of a book of his poetry, Along the River Road.
Miss America feels poppy-soft, like Dorothy without Toto or the
Tin Man to hearten. So very, very tired.
Webster was a modern poet. Influenced by the world of the late 20th
century, and free from the confines of iambic and trochaic meters, his lines
of free verse resonate with euphonic personal experience. Varying themes,
from childhood to nature to music to death to life, flavor his poetry.
Tuesday night condoms rimmed with pink lipstick
hung from the tines of dead thistle.
An empty bottle of Wild Irish Rose
dug its collar in the gravel.
According to Alice Fulton, one of Webster's creative writing instructors
(and author of the book's introduction), Along the River Road is "a celebra-
tion of growth and progress." She acknowledges that Webster might have
revised some of these poems before publishing them, but feels that their un-
polished quality only makes the works more effective.
"There's a good roughness, at times, that is more immediate and moving
than lines in which all oddity has been workshopped away," Fulton writes.
It is that same "roughness" that gives Webster's poems their honest,
simple tone, which sits well with his themes and diction. Webster didn't
alienate the reader with esoteric symbolism and eight-syllable words.
Her only lover breathes with caution,
in the fabric of her skin.
She exhales a shower of lost want ;
the hour is final.
Webster's first and final book of poetry is published by Paprika Press, a
company founded specifically for the purpose of publishing Webster's
work. This memorial volume was put together by his widow, friends, and
colleagues. Along the River Road is dedicated to Webster's daughter, born
three months after his death.
The book includes not only poetry, but photography and journal excerpts
When the sun dies out,
will our relic be seen,
a zenith travelling to
the final reaches of light?
Mark Webster, his friends and associates will host a reading of selected
works from Along the River Road. The event is co-sponsored by Paprika
Press and the MFA program in Creative Writing. Says Mimi Mayer,
founding publisher of Paprika Press, "The reading is a tribute: a celebration
of Mark, his poetry, and the enduring spirit of creativity."
The ghosts have much to celebrate
in their lightened condition
and perform with great joy the routines that a corporeal extant despises.
MARK WEBSTER'S work will be read today at 4 p.m. in the East Con-
ference Room. at Rackham, The public is invited, and admission is free.
Those toads are a morose bunch, but you can't write good lyrics if you're not depressed, right? They are Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols, Randy Guss, and
Dean Dinning. Their arty setting may by California, but it could just be the hell in their own minds.
This Toad is leaping out of Cal
Signed by a biggie, Toad the Wet Sprocket has still kept their charm
by Nima Hodaei
" 6 We're all trying to do our own
thing," explains Toad the Wet Spro-
cket bassist Dean Dinning, when
asked about the group's comparison
to other American counterparts such
as R.E.M. and the Connells. "We're
not sitting down to write a song and
trying to make a certain style of
music. It's just whatever happens to
come out, sort of free-form.
"We use a lot of acoustic and folk
instruments and things like that. I
think bands that try to develop their
own voice and sound like them-
selves, kind of sound alike."
Toad the Wet Sprocket has gone
a long way in distancing themselves
from these comparisons. The quartet
out of Santa Barbara, California
(Dinning on bass, Randy Guss on
drums, Todd Nichols, guitars, and
Glen Phillips, vocalist/guitars) has
been putting forth their own unique
brand of electrified folk and rock
tunes over the span of three albums
now. Their latest recording, Fear, is
definitely the most diverse of the
batch, featuring a more brooding,
gothic sound that has expanded the
"Glen writes all the lyrics and
what he has always said ... is that
we write about a lot of dark things,"
says Dinning. "Being someone who
writes lyrics, when you're in a happy
mood, you want to get in the car and
drive up to the mountains, and just
hang out with your friends. Being
depressed, I suppose, is contempla-
tive. It's more conducive to lyric
writing, so that tends to be what
Toad's tale is truly a success
story at a grass-roots level. Ori-
ginally playing as a no-cover band in
a small Santa Barbara club, Toad's
members borrowed enough money
from Phillips' father to record and
locally sell 1989's Bread and Cir-
cus. Around the same time, before
signing ,with a major label, they
recorded with their own money,
what would later become 1990's
Pale. A deal with Columbia Records
soon followed, and has produced, as
Dinning puts it, a very fair relation-
"Columbia was the only label we
met with at the time, who when we
said, 'We want you to release our
first two albums that we recorded
ourselves, nationally,' didn't put up
record company came up for one af-
ternoon, heard about six mixes, and
said, 'Sounds great!," says Dinning,
with a laugh. "I think that they know
that the best thing they can do is to
leave us alone. It's good to have
them be that understanding and to be
able to recognize that we're a good
It strikes most listeners as odd
Going Blank Again
Has Ride grown tired of the Br
tish guitar wash categorization? TI
band's latest offering, Going Blai
Again, seems to indicate as muc
The music on this album is actual
more complex than on their previol
releases, yet it sounds stripped of t
dream-like guitar wails, the distan
often forgettable vocals, and ti
unmistakable "ocean" feel of the
Unlike Nowhere, its first fu
length album, and Smile (a compil
tion of the band's first two EPs),
Going Blank Again makes an honest
attempt to capture the perfect "pop"
i- song - short, not overly simplified,
he and most importantly, appealing and
nk accessible. "Twisterella" is the clos-
h. est this band has ever come to
ly sounding like anything but the My
us Bloody Valentines and Lushes out
he there today. It's a cool change.
U, The distortion pedal is mysteri-
he ously absent from most of this
n'. See RECORDS, Page 9
ANN A R OI Ur12
'Being depressed, I suppose, is contemplative.
It's more conducive to lyric writing, so that
tends to be what comes out.'
any fight at all," he says.
Even more surprising for the
band was the great amount of free-
dom that Columbia gave them to
"Basically, we went and recorded
a record for three months and the
that Toad has not received more at-
tention than it already has. Natioftal
appearances on shows such as Laie
Night with David Letterman can
only help the group's nationwide ap-
peal. But for music so accessible to
See TOAD, Page 9
5TH AVE. AT LIBERTY
,- .. ..
"If your hair isn't becoming
to you you should be
$3 .0 0 DAILY HOWSYEFRE PM
STUDENT WITH 1.. $3.50
Roadside Prophets (R)
White Men Can't Jump (R)
7:30 p.m. APRIL 8th & 9th