Which is to say, you can read "A Poetry Roundup Both Raw And Alive" and my celebratory (and self-serving) riffs on Wherever I’m At – An Anthology of Chicago Poetry from the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, Third World Press and After Hours Press, Harsh Realm: My 1990s by Daniel Nester, oh, you thought this was a date?! by C. Russell Price, Sleep Demons by Barry Graham here. You may also read some excerpt below. And please do most definitely read all these raw and alive poetry collections, because they will most definitely change your life.
“Since you went underground
I've wanted to track you down
Since you went underground
I've wanted to dig you out”
-"Forest Lawn" / Better Oblivion Community Center
"Why "Forest Lawn" by Better Oblivion Community Center?
"Because you know, pain, sadness, death.
"Or maybe it just came on as I was reading and when it did I felt overwhelmed by it all.
"Everything, yo, name it, I was feeling it.
"Which has a lot to do with reading poetry, which is why we’re here today, you and I, engaged in this dialogue that doubles as a piece I promised to write for LitReactor and now have. Which is to say, I threatened to pitch LitReactor on a poetry roundup and they called my bluff.
"They said you wanted to write fiction and nonfiction roundups and we embraced that, so go ahead read some poetry and write about it.
"The issue is not that I didn’t have poetry to read, I got poetry:
"There’s Wherever I’m At – An Anthology of Chicago Poetry from the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, Third World Press and After Hours Press, a gorgeous monstrosity of Chicago love, comprised of 134 poets and 27 artists all telling something grand or granular about the streets, trains, neighborhoods, and people who comprise one of the great, and I would suggest, least appreciated of all American cities.
"Harsh Realm: My 1990s by Daniel Nester, a terribly moving mixtape journey through that no longer quite so recent decade, the music of the time, heavy metal and punk especially, New York City, another pretty great American City, and Philadelphia, certainly underappreciated, the poetry scene, parenthood, and all of which is presented with an unavoidable darkness if not outright sadness.
"oh, you thought this was a date?! by C. Russell Price, a raw, at times shattering exploration of small town America, poverty, sexual assault, music, and queer culture, and the effort to define all of that in a way that feels completely alive as it bathes itself and the reader in the exigent muck of life and celebrates love, hope, language, escape and the possibility that something beautiful awaits us all.
"Sleep Demons by Barry Graham, a slender and introspective series of gut punches, wrapped in pointed narrative and immersed in sex, love, life and the endlessly bitter taste of it all as seen through the loss of relationships and the isolation that comes not only when there is no one present, but even when they are, and are not right or just don’t want to be there.
"To recap then, the issue was not, did I have the poetry to read or even did I want to write about it, the issue as I see it and present to you today is that could I handle said poetry?
"Handle it you ask?"