The first Middle Island Press book to have been published in the year 2016 is Big City Nighttime Stories by Illinois poet Gene McCormick. The back cover contains some commentaries that I’d like to share:
“The language of the poems [In Tanya, Queen Of The Greasy Spoon] is sometimes conventionally attractive, but more often than not many things are ugly, grotesque, or simply commonplace. Whatever the subject, however, the clarity, crispness, and aptness of the language elevates the subject matter to the level of true poetry. This is a quality much rarer in English and American poetry than in French, and especially so at the turn of the 21st century when the language of even many admired poets is flat and turgid. …Aside from the language, this collection is rich in humanity. The author moves with seeming effortlessness into the minds and souls of people of both sexes, of old and young, and of widely varying social situations. The author never moralizes, and never slips into the false superiority of gratuitous irony. The result is one of the most readable collections I have come across for a long time.” —Jack Hart, editor, Ship of Fools.
“Hand-hewn poems of the America behind the headlines, away from the glitz and glamour, far from the tall buildings and high finance. Mr. McCormick is the anti-Norman Rockwell, painting not the ideal, but the dirty bricks and stone, the flat tires and lives, and the one for the road that goes nowhere. The poet has no agenda but to depict the plain truth of observable reality. The 99% we seldom see outside of crime blotters and obituaries.” —Phil Wagner, editor, The Iconoclast, reviewing An Ice Ax At Dusk.
“Probes the height and/or depth of mankind. That’s the stuff that separates distinguished poets from wannabees. The way McCormick weaves poetic insight and imagery into prose format is a gift.” —David Ross, Rockford Writer’s Guild.
“McCormick’s poetic prose hits no false notes, and he sketches the story out as quickly as we can follow it. Read straight through, the narrative is heady, taking us in just a few minutes from the “primordial days” of childhood to the world as it appears after death. Each piece also stands on its own and entices the reader to look long and look again, as with a set of installations, souls built word by word.” —Leslie Bary, University of Louisiana, reviewing Lives of Passion for Cybersoleil.
…and Gene McCormick’s own words:
“Big City Nighttime Stories is my world, the world as I know it, spelled out with nuanced, evocative writing that is at once accessible while encouraging interpretations.”
I, personally, find McCormick’s style of writing relaxed and readable, edgy yet sophisticated, and was amused and entertained at his perceptions and analyses in poems such as “An Average Woman In McDonalds” in which I found myself wondering how often I’ve been stared at and analyzed without knowing it!