Crumbling Utopian Pipedream, Scott Wozniak

scott wozniak, poetry, reviews, full of crow, crow reviewsScott Wozniak’s new poetry collection from Moran Press is described by Hosho McCreesh as “lost, ugly, and broken-down”, poems that are “covered in their own holy filth.”
I’m in, so I keep reading: 
I was an artist
and felonies
my canvas.

There you go, right out of the gate.
Rob Plath calls Wozniak’s work “authentic outlaw poetry”. I admit that I have a soft spot for that, because I don’t have to look very far to read “tidy and proper”.That shit’s everywhere.
What I want is the truth, the ugly, the disgusting, the dysfunctional. I want poems that reflect life the way life is, and I think Wozniak hangs out in that place enough to spill some secrets.
The term “outlaw” is thrown around often, like a badass badge. But it has to be about more than posturing, and it has to be about more than persona. It has to convey something beyond the questioning of authority to the living of a life beyond that shadow. The poetry has to have some variation of going to hell, right? (Hellraising Intellect) Of being damned, condemned, of prices paid, and carrying on anyway? 
Grit and candor are part of it. It would be easy to think about commonalities among outlaw poets, looking for typical themes and confessional rebellion and you would find them. But you would also find a street style and language that spares the reader the gagging perfume but finds a way to keep the musk.

Outlaw poetry is a dirty body on clean sheets.
It draws you in because it feels real, it has a pulse. Wozniak’s short lines are that pulse, typically 2-3 words each, you are paced and pulled along as the poet reflects on dysfunctional vignettes without apologies. “The world is brutal, and there’s nothing you can do to change this.” (Down The Chambers of Madness)

The poet is broken in a world that is broken, trying to survive and get to the next hustle. 

My sign read.
“I smell,
I’m broke,
everybody 
hates me. 
I just want
to get drunk
and high,
spare a dime?”  (Family Values Paying Off)

The poems involve deliberation between exposing and turning away : “should we hide them or pull the covers from them?” (Uniqueness is Fatal) “Dig deep enough and you’ll find a rotting corpse” (In The Hole, Boss) 

Why examine? The poet talks about pieces, brokenness, parts that need to be glued or cobbled back together… is redemption possible? He doesn’t want to hear from people who imagine what it is like, with the privilege of hope. He wants to hear from people who have been to that edge and have made it back, without any nets and without a reason to hope- not a triumph of the reassured but the perseverance of the damned. It isn’t rock bottom until it is rock bottom, and no- you don’t know what it’s like. If you haven’t lost your friends to it and yourself to it, it isn’t your story. We are here to pull up a chair. 

“Let’s overcome
circumstances,
demons,
destruction,
chaos,
the detriment.

Let’s build
the craziest 
dream
we can think.”
(So Many Choices, So Little Time) 

What would the dream look like? The “even keel”, or the “great stories of insane moments”? 

Calm is hell, chaos is hell, recovery is hell, disease is hell, but do we want to get better? What does better look like? Better isn’t the dream. Better is another side of the death coin. Tails, you still lose. 

Moran Press has more titles in their catalog, available through Amazon. You can check out their authors here. This book, Crumbling Utopian Pipedream, can be purchased here:

“Scott Wozniak’s “Crumbling Utopian Pipedream,” is a book of poems born of the streets. It unflinchingly celebrates gritty realism while detailing some of life’s hard won battles, and continually urges the reader to face the obstacles life puts in our way, and to realize that we have the strength to overcome any and all hardships.”

Scott Wozniak is a contributor in the Summer 2017 issue of Full of Crow Poetry, and you can check out his poems here. 

Elynn Alexander posts here about what she’s reading, usually in the small press/alternative world. She is the founding editor of Full of Crow Press and Distro. 

 

Cleveland Wall’s “Primer”

I recently came across a sewn microchap set aside in a pile that I brought in as samples of chapbooks for students, to show some examples of handmade poetry books that might inspire their own.

Cleveland Wall’s “Regarding Certain Stalwart Integers: A Primer” is an understated, simple book no more than four inches tall without images or color. We have her text, and an emphasis on the numbers she celebrates. The poems are short, but clever:

41

Very European. Striped, ticking and brisk. 

Or this whimsical ode to 79: The warped glass in leaded panes is like a dream. A cat lives here.

This book is one of those cool gems that you’d like more copies of to share. Cleveland Wall is playful, whimsical, but her words have an academic density- they bear weight. 

Her poems reveal a fascination with quirky subjects. Her creative use of language is often humorous while somehow elegant at the same time. 
Wall is a poet with roots in the Lehigh Valley area, where she performs regularly and more recently, her sets include the musical accompaniment of her husband, musician Michael Wall.

 

 

Check out their performance at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, as part of the Perspectives poetry event: 

 

 

“Fireball”, by Charles Joseph

I met New Jersey poet Charles Joseph when we read in the Lehigh Valley Vanguard’s event “Explorations Of Identity” at a new space in Easton, 719. He is a founding publisher and editor of Indigent Press, a relatively new small press based in Montclair. His chapbook “Fireball” (Or 12 Quasi-Epic Poems of Cheerful Doom and Gloom) is one of their offerings, with an initial print run of 100 limited copies.

The first poem, ‘The Return of Kid Lightning”, introduces the speaker as a poet who struggles with self doubt after “years of sluggin’ it out with the blank page.” He has made a connection with a reader in Texas, who has provided encouragement, now: “the blank page better watch its ass.”  Continue reading

“Stay Afloat Inside”, by Cord Moreski

“Stay Afloat Inside” Poetry by Cord Moreski, published by Indigent Press in 2016. Posted by Elynn Alexander for Full Of Crow Press.

We all have a floor
                   to rise from

Cord Moreski is a New Jersey Poet, host of Words On Main in Asbury Park and a frequent performer who brings a balance of power and composure to his readings. He is forceful, passionate, he throws himself into the delivery- but he is also a laid back, unassuming guy. He is, in person, like his poetry. His poems are straightforward, but read them twice.  This poetry chapbook from Indigent Press is white, stark, with a simple sketch. And a simple mantra: Stay Afloat Inside. 

Cord Moreski's Poetry Chapbook "Stay Afloat Inside"

Many of these poems return to themes of rebuilding, recovery, pushing through and kicking off from the past and making sense of the walking present with reminders of the people and places of steps past. 

flying back to four years ago

where if I close my eyes
I can still picture
those nights

The poet remains humbled by the past, the vulnerability, vigilance. He can’t go back. He has to confront his choices in the present. In one poem, he chooses club soda and lime instead of a drink:

We all have a floor
       to rise from
I place the sour fruit wedge 
between the blades
of my teeth,

bite down,
and sip the bitterness 
from the pith,

chewing
on what’s left
until I break the rind.

Continue reading

Aad de Gids Reviews “Body Voices” by Kevin Reid

Aad de Gids reviews “Body Voices” by Kevin Reid, Published by Crisis Chronicles Press. Full Of Crow Press. 

kevinreidbodyvoicesKevin Reid has written an intriguing collection of poetry themed around the vestiges of the human body called: Body Voices. In his book the body does acquire an actual voice. More accurately, several voices, as there are various parts of the body which all appear to be eager to speak. Never denoted without wit and sometimes a frail sadness or deadpan acuity, each poem is at once written for that particular body part’s seemingly idiosyncratic voice, while simultaneously bearing references to either more personal, societal or philosophical and poetical insights. As such, the book also resembles the great atlases of  ancient renaissance, Vesalius de humani corporis fabrica (1543) comes to mind. However, now in Reid’s hands, and in a decisively modern and postmodern idiom, the various Body Voices show a language best summarized as strong in vulnerability. Continue reading

The Non-Herein, Michael McAloran

Poetry by Michael McAloran The Non-Herein, by Michael Mc Aloran, published by Lapwing Press. Reviewed by Elynn Alexander for Full Of Crow. 

Of the non herein
Ash upon drought as if

It could be uttered
Set to light

Broken cleft absent
In whip of

Spinal affluence
Dragging out the magus

Pulse of futile
Again once again

Till none
Asked of without quarter

(In Abacus)

Michael Mc Aloran’s collection “The Non Herein” from Belfast publisher Lapwing Press invites the reader to anomie and paradox, what lies within is self-negating. His poems mirror back life, (“opiate’s glass” . (Traceless of), “naught of the sheet glass” (Never Once) reflected as decay, vitality that reaches to extinguishing, the “jugular ash”.  (Into Echoing) Continue reading

“Desecrations” by Howie Good

Desecrations, by Howie Good.  Discussed by Elynn Alexander for Crow Reviews, part of Full Of Crow Press. Desecrations was published by Fowlpox Press in 2012, with design and cover by Virgil Kay. ISBN 978-0-9881088-2-0. www.fowlpox.tk

Everyone felt exiled from everyone else.” (RSVP)

The poet begins with distinctions, people and things apart, alienation from minor to extreme degrees. The poet observes, even as he is aware of his own separation:

“I looked for the house while also trying to watch the road.” Continue reading

“The Horizontal Poet” by Jan Steckel

Jan Steckel’s The Horizontal Poet is an award-winning collection of poems published by Zeitgeist Press with cover art by Deborah Vinograd. This review appeared at Litseen, (link) a bay area event and lit site organized by Evan Karp, in October, 2012. Elynn Alexander

The cover of The Horizontal Poet features a supine female form, vulnerable, trusting but not submissive, open but not fully revealed. It is suggestive of a vulnerability shared by choice, not taken. She is at ease with her nakedness, calmly bold. Her hands are at rest, not a figure in waiting but suggesting serenity, contentment.

For these reasons, the cover struck me and became a recurring image throughout the collection, a presence that, like the subjects in the poems—“Wake,” especially—lifts up and transforms the reader. You can’t come away without feeling you’ve experienced something of this woman. Continue reading

Metamorphic Winters: A review of Confessions by Marcus Reichert

Full Of Crow welcomes Serena M. Wilcox: Metamorphic Winters: A Review of Confessions by Marcus Reichert

Have you ever experienced a prolonged dark night of the soul? Numbness is your meat and silence is the only form of desired communication. In Reichert’s latest book Confessions, he directs the reader like an old sage through chilling moments of despair and confusion to inner chambers of heat and illumination. Continue reading

“White Vases” by John Swain

“White Vases”, John Swain. Discussed by Elynn Alexander for Full Of Crow Press.

Poets navigate with labels. It is just a part of the deal as people try to make sense of their associations and perhaps figure out their own sub-sects. What we find, however, is that poets surprise us and like all artists, poets evolve. We have to challenge ourselves to suspend the need to define one another because when we do, we stay open to a fuller catalog.

To put Swain’s work into a box (nature) is to minimize what he is doing, what poets do, and doesn’t speak to the question of WHY he brings up nature or birds or anything else.  It ignores the scope of what he accomplishes, and constitutes a cherry picking of themes that is a common practice with poetry and poetic criticism, this pursuit of labels and categorization.  It keeps the reader in periphery, and ultimately leads them away from “White Vases”.

As a reader of John’s work for years now, I would like to encourage people that read his work to resist the temptation to typecast him and to force associations.  I hope that I can at least make the case for the rewards of digging deeper, as there are few poets on my radar that bring me to the point of study the way he does. The beauty of his writing makes me want to sit with his poems; their resonance makes me want to understand why they touch me. Their brevity fools me into thinking that they are simple and then I embark on an experience that becomes more layered with each read and with each book I find myself taking what he is willing to share and adding it to the experience of him, and when you have that relationship with a poet’s work it is an appreciation that is difficult to convey.

I may lack the words to convince you, but I won’t stop trying. Continue reading