"In only 30 pages, Catlin manages to fully realize and populate an entire city of downtrodden people, their “eyes cloudy with want.” In spite of our better judgment, our instinct to keep our heads down and walk a little faster, Catlin’s zombies, drunks, prostitutesin a word, derelictscommand our full attention, and compel us to take another look."
The Chapbook Review
"The book’s speaker is a bartender who is part of the neighborhood but not of it. He observes Albany’s post-industrial wreckage from both near and far, simultaneously experiencing disgust and sympathy toward the city’s troubled inhabitants. Most of all, the speaker feels resignation about their anti-social behavior... This tough-minded attitude, ultimately, is the strength of Only the Dead Know Albany, which serves up an engaging, unsentimental portrait of today’s urban underclass."
Small Press Review
"Only the Dead Know Albany is a collection of 20 poems in a clean saddle-stapled chapbook that describes Catlin’s experience working in and moving through the seedier sides of town along its back streets, dark alleys and public transportation. Through his observations, he captures for us readers a few brief moments in the lives of the homeless, the drug-addicted, and the down-trodden. The poems flow seamlessly together into a parade of underworld characters who come out after dark and scratch the insides of their cardboard boxes by day."
Prick of the Spindle
"These little snapshots of society flow together to create a look at society that is dark and uncertain. Each character more lost than the one before, but the only truth is that no one can ever really leave or break free. Hence, Only the Dead Know Albany because only in death can you escape and finally understand."
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
"Like the novelist William Kennedy, Catlin knows the town, its dark underbelly, the stumblebums, the dandies, the psychos, the grifters, the poseurs, and politicians, who are denizens of this city. In his poem 'Only the Dead Know Albany,' Catlin captures the subversive soulthe poetry of the 'Other America,' a term and book title the writer Michael Harrington coined years ago. ...[H]ighly recommended."
The Somerville News
Alan Catlin spent most of his professional life commuting to and working in Albany, New York. Consequently, he considers that city the home of his inspiration and imagination. As a non-driver who worked in bars and restaurants, his intimacy with the city via public transportation and the underbelly of the streets gave him a unique perspective of the down and dirty aspects of everyday life. Many of the characters and narratives in these poems are poetic gifts based on actual experiences that he has processed and transcribed for contextual clarity. The result is Only the Dead Know Albanya raw, real, and intimate look at the human comedy.