Review: Rubber Side Down: The Biker Poet Anthology, edited by Jose (JoeGo) Gouveia

Biker Poetry! I couldn’t pass this one up when Lisa Roe at OnlinePublicist offered it. I thought biker poetry has to be a bit like pirate poetry – wild and unruly and maybe just a bit romantic.

There’s an outlaw aura about bikers, very much a mentality of being outsiders when it comes to regular society, a part of their own special group. Like any special group, they have their own vocabulary, their own rules, their own inside jokes. I’m betting that someone who rides, someone who understood more about biker culture would enjoy this in ways that are mysteries to me.

As with any poetry anthology, this is a mixed bag. Some of the work was a real pleasure to read; other pieces were downright painful. Most of the work fell somewhere in the middle.

My favorite poem was a piece called “Heavy Lean” by Daniel A. Armstrong. According to his bio, Daniel rides a 2005 Triumph Speedmaster and hosts a weekly poetry reading in Frederick, Maryland. His humorous work about Van Gogh and Gaugin racing to win the hand of a woman was a great read:

I remember the summer of ’78
That was the year
Van Gogh lost his ear
See he and Gaugin both had it
Bad for the same girl,
Betty Lou Beaujolais —
She was from an old wine family
And moonlighted as a
Bare-blue-footed can-can dancer

On starry, starry nights

(Sorry about the formatting – Blogger is being obstinate.)

Another favorite is “The State Trooper & the Biker Get Tested” by Mark D. “Moshe” Goldfinger. Mark is the poetry editor of Spare Change News and a substance abuse counselor. It tells the story of getting his motorcycle license again after a long suspension due to some drug-related offenses. What he expects will be a difficult encounter turns into a chance to see the state trooper as something other than his enemy.

I enjoyed this anthology, and I think anyone who has a motorcycle and loves the open road will feel a certain kinship with these poets. My copy was an advance reader copy; you can pick up your copy at

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