Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book Review: Eric Greinke

Selected Poems 1972—2005

For more than thirty years, Eric Greinke has been crafting poetry with colorful quality and provocative texture. This collection attempts to capture the unique evolution of a poet, and, I’m sure, only begins to paint a picture of Greinke’s true merit.

From the beginning, Greinke sets a mood of dedication. The first poem, “Postcard,” is a message sent to someone far away. Short and simple, he writes:

The sky is grey here.
My room is quiet & near.
Thinking of you

in my little cocoon.

From there, this collection becomes a series of poems as postcards, dedicated to family and friends and poets near and far. It’s like stumbling upon a box of old letters, in a desk, in an antique shop, inviting a stranger into the warmth and intimacy of Greinke’s life.

[Go to PoetsWest for the full review and more about poetry in the Northwest.]

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Brief Comma

Submitted for consideration.

This poem may be more convoluted than I usually like my poetry to be. The images are more oblique, and it has less of a straightforward narrative to it. It's a holdover from my Fantasia Poetry Night days, although I don't think I ever read this one. It's a situation that reminds me of the necessity of revision. Far from what I might call complete, this is actually an amalgam of a three-poem set I had written, respectively titled "Acquisition," "Deficiency," and "Aphasia."

Recently I have begun thinking of revision as a game of Jenga. The initial draft(s) are a simple stack of simple ideas. It doesn't look bad, just kind of boring or obscure; the game is in moving the blocks. I usually go for the easy ones first, the pieces that shift at the slightest touch of my finger. With this poem, I actually stole entire blocks of text from the stack to place in different poems because it was easy and I liked the lines so much. Invariably I leave the harder blocks to move last--the process I have most recently been undertaking. When the structure starts to get wobbly, I want to stop playing altogether. I'm at about that point with this one. I'm afraid any more revision and it will fall to pieces. From three separate poems to one cohesive piece (now titled "A Brief Comma"), this one has been on my mind a while and it's come very far. Thanks for reading.