How to Vote: A Manual
by Max Winchester
2012 REPRINT. How to Vote: A Manual, by Max Winchester
Edition 1.2. Published President’s Day 2016. ISBN 978-1-938928-03-1. Published by I-Beam Books. Distributed by Spineless Books. $12.
Reviewed by C.G. Estabrook in Smile Politely (15 March 2016)
Jasper Pierce interviews Max Winchester in Smile Politely (19 September 2012)
The conflict you feel between your desire to better your community, the reflexive pride you take in your nation, and that lingering sense of dissatisfaction that follows your best intentions, is now a book of fifty prose poems that grabs you, the American democratic process, by your collar, leans right into your face, its breath reeking of whiskey and miso soup, and hisses the words "inherently undemocratic."
Max Winchester (1951-2011) was a poet whose influence can be found throughout American letters. One of the founding members of the literary arts collective Brickwall Circle, Winchester was a winner of the American Poetry Board’s Younger Poet Prize. In the 1970s, he changed his focus from poetry for the page to performance poetry, sharing stages with the likes of Lou Reed, the Sex Pistols, and Captain Beefheart. He also performed in a controversial multimedia piece by Himmler Linz Kestral Kraktow written especially for him. He served as managing editor of the alternative newsmagazine Globe, and wrote the unpublished book-length poem Sphere. He devoted much of his later life to teaching poetry to prisoners in Washington State. How to Vote was found among his manuscripts, and is believed to be one of the last works he completed before his death.