Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review of Eric Greinke's For the Living Dead: New & Selected Poems

Zombies vs. Robots
by Mary Kate DeJardin

If I had to wrap up Eric Greinke’s collection of poems, For the Living Dead: New & Selected Poems, in three words, I would say: simple, yet complex.  Greinke uses simple language to show the complex relationship between the natural and the supernatural over four decades of his writing career. He does this throughout the book by writing about everything from zombies and clowns to storms and seasons.

Greinke has a way with simple words that evoke a chilling sensation that runs through the body. An example can be both seen and felt in his piece “The Accident”:

When they got to the car
they saw it was wrapped
like a fist on the staff
of the steel-armed tree
The children had come to earth.
One was already dead.
One gasped horrid breaths
that wound down while they watched.

This excerpt from “The Accident” left me with emotion and hair standing on end while recollecting memories from crashes throughout the years. This piece evokes feeling in the reader that would otherwise not be felt unless the reader has a similar moment in his or her life.

Greinke also has the ability to bring the dream-like and supernatural to life. He does this in the title piece “For The Living Dead”:

In the post-apocalyptic world
The zombies are loosely organized
With no zombie leader
They wander in random abandon
Trying to play various musical instruments
But their rhythm is shot

This excerpt takes dream-like events such as the apocalypse and zombies and turns them into a very real event. This piece really left me on edge about how it could possible end as it led from zombies to robot armies throughout this ten-section poem.

Greinke goes on to tell readers about the natural world about through storms and seasons. An example of one of his season poems is “Our House”:

Summer’s gone, the garden’s in,
the grass in back is tall
& green. Robins are flying
south again. We’ll see them
when they return next spring.
The trees are red & brown. Autumn
makes me feel old. Especially when
I look ahead, to the coming snow, & the child
we waited for so long.

This is just an excerpt that does an excellent job at describing the detail of what is going on in the world throughout the season changes. Also, the speaker's feelings about those season changes is described in detail, as are the changes that occur within the speaker.

For the Living Dead is a great book if you are looking for something simple but thought-provoking and emotional. The poet does an excellent job at leaving the reader on edge, and he always leaves the reader thinking at the end of each poem. Eric Greinke’s collection of poems written throughout four decades of his writing career left me wanting more.

For the Living Dead: New & Selected Poems
Eric Greinke
Presa Press
January 1, 2013

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Okay, I need to see this book. Well-done, Mary Kate!