D Edward Ennis's Curbside Pickup
Curbside Pickup by D Edward Ennis is a lengthy, heavy-handed collection of "ex-treme-of-consciousness" prose poems, filtering the best and the worst of stereo-typical Americana through a roughly sympathetic poet's eye.
I will say, in my opinion (this is, after all, a review), that there are two ways to write this kind of poetry. The first is to let the poetry come pouring out of the mind, through the pen, and onto the page/computer screen. The second, if one chooses to preserve the orgins of the poetic inspiration, is to reformat the line-breaks, so that if one decides to remit the punctuation, at least the line breaks can imply punctuation. I, have, like many other modern poets, experimented with stream-of-consciousness poetry in the last couple of years, and have employed the visual tricks of lower-casing my capitals on nouns, titles, and in the beginnings of sentences, to "force" the reader to pay attention to what is being said, as opposed to how it why a poems looks the way it does.
Unfortunately, Ennis's choice to ignore these simple rules of editing, has, in my opinion, handicapped a promising debut of work. I can possibly place the blame at e.e. cummings feet, or in the hands of post-beat poets like Lyn Lifshin; however, both of these examples have spent years honing their craft, and, both poets intuitively understand(stood) the lyric nature of poetry. Ennis has a storyteller's gift, which, still, often shines through in Curbside. He has managed to document the last days of a vanishing staple of American culture - the middle class - which, even after 60-plus pages of headache-inducing visual confusion, is engaging to read, as in the poem, "Scotty's big American romance:"
tractor trailers are no longer
romantic Scotty not tractor trailers not
trainyards not toy soldiers nobody
dreams of these things anymore i know
you wince with fond remembrance of
heave die cast metal toys from
your youth i dropt marbles from
your second story window imagining
the splatter of cat eys nobody can
turn a trainyard into anything but
a trainyard a soldier a soldier you
see but it pains you Scotty as it
pains me too
It pains me to be harsh with a fledgling poet, but I must. I would be remiss in my love of poetry, and my passion for literacy to be silent, to agree that sloppy editing, as well as aping those who came before; those same poets who learned the mechanics, the art of the poetic form before taking the first steps into what we now know as contemporary poetry, is acceptable. Still, in the end, this is just my opinion, and I may be the last of a dying breed... those who prefer a balance of style AND substance, as opposed to one over the other.
I wish Mr. Ennis well on his poetic journey. He has a lot of promise as a prose poet, and I hope to read better, as well as, more balanced work in the future.
Curbside Pickup, D. Edward Ennis, copyright 2009, www.curbsidepickup.net, available through LuLu.com , ISBN 978-0-557-04762-8, $14.95