Poetry by Eric Greinke
Indie Groundbreaking Book: The Potential of Poetry
Building a strong case for poetic freedom and a New Eclecticism
LIFE Life Is short, but great.
This little poem is part of a little essay, in a little book, released by a little publisher, that had a BIG impact on me. Hence, this month's Groundbreaking Book of the Month choice. It’s an 88-page paperback book of essays from Presa Press of Rockford, Michigan. Like the little poem, it doesn’t need to be BIG to be GREAT. “Good things come in small packages,” as the old saying goes.
The Potential of Poetry, by Eric Greinke, is one of those books that you know is important, even if you’re not sure why. I think what caught my attention, besides being somewhat familiar with its author as a well-known Michigan poet, was a phrase in the book’s introduction by Roseanne Ritzema: “Ever the social advocate, Eric urges us to be divergent in our thinking and receptive to new ideas. We should focus on the positive aspects of poetry and how it unites us in our shared human experience.”
That sounds like a mission statement for the Small Press movement in general, and the mission this publication was launched on back in 1983 as Small Press magazine. One of the essays, “Remember, It’s a Movement,” urges us to remember the roots of independent publishing back in the 70’s and 80’s, when the pioneers were creating books far outside the mainstream, sometimes with handset type. Methods have changed, but the call for solidarity among publishers is heartening. Mainstream publishing needs the renegades, the non-conformists, to keep our literary culture from becoming a big machine that recycles the same “big” books over and over.
Greinke is eloquent in describing the role of small press poetry: “Contemporary poets are being coaxed into and coerced into an anti-intellectualism that’s reminiscent of the Eisenhower 50’s, when homogenization of poetry turned it into skim milk, and heroic poets like Ginsberg, Corso, Whalen, Ferlinghetti, O’Hara, DiPrima, Snyder, Lamantia, Bukowski, and Olson emerged in reaction, to stand against The Nothing.
“Quality seems objective to the Poetry Nazis. They have no sense of humor and they have short attention spans. They are Nazi low-brows and dangerously delusional, but nevermind them. They never go the full distance, because they are afraid of the ambiguous, deep water. They like to lurk around close to the shore, in the shallows. Besides, I have always believed that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
* * * * *
“The major established poets, published by the few remaining large publishers, mostly went to ivy league colleges and universities. Harvard and Columbia alone account for a majority of them. Out West, we don’t have gentlemen farmers – we’ve got cowboys and Indians! In the Upper Midwest, we tend to grow our poets wild. They have grey beards and tend to be outdoor types, and that’s just the women! We’re all products of our environments to varying degrees. We should agree that there are many different kinds of poetic impulses, spaces and processes. Vive la difference! We need to respect this diversity for the good of poetry. Poetry is too big, or should be, to be limited to only one kind of poem, one kind of tradition, one kind of aesthetic, one kind of process, one kind of authority.”
* * * * *
“I want to read and write poems that work like keys that unlock endless mirrored hallways of association that are similar to dreaming while awake. Poems that transport each of us to their own special space, into higher meaning. “The goal of poetry is, after all, enlightenment.”
* * * * *
The Potential of Poetry Essays by Eric Greinke 87 Pages; Paperback; $11.95 ISBN: 978-0-9831251-1-2 www.PresaPress.com
“Greinke examines our basic assumptions about poetics, social stratification in the literary world, accessibility and related issues with unique insight and humor. Together, these essays build a strong case for poetic freedom and eclecticism.”