eric greinke

In Memory of Donald Lev – (Poet and Publisher, May 15, 1936—September 30th, 2018)

donald lev reading at mudd puddle 2

Donald Lev reading at the Mudd Puddle Café – New Paltz, New York – May 17, 2014. Photograph by g emil reutter

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Donald Lev attended Hunter College, worked in the wire rooms of the Daily News and New York Times, and then drove a taxi cab for 20 years (with a 6-year hiatus in which he ran messages for, and contributed poetry to, The Village Voice and operated the Home Planet Bookshop on the Lower East Side). His earliest poems appeared in print in 1958 and he started his first small press magazine, HYN Anthology, in 1969.
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Among his honors have been a Madeline Sadin Award from New York Quarterly in 1973 and a Life Time Achievement Award from the Catskill Reading Society/Outloudbooks in 2003. He was Distinguished Visiting Poet for the Northeast Poetry Center in Sugar Loaf, NY in July of 2012. In 2008 Outloudbooks brought out his The Darkness Above: Selected Poems 1968-2002 a sampling from the first four decades of his writing. A chapbook, Only Wings: 20 Poems of Devotion was published in 2010 by Presa Press in Michigan, and a new collection, A Very Funny Fellow, was brought out by NYQ Books in February, 2012. Another book, Where I Sit, was published by Presa Press in 2015, and his latest collection, Focus, was issued in 2017 by NYQ Books.
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His brief underground film-acting career pinnacled with his portrayal (he wrote his own lines) of “The Poet” in Robert Downey Sr.’s 1969 classic Putney Swope.
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He lived in High Falls, NY, where he published the literary tabloid Home Planet News (online at:  http://www.homeplanetnews.org/ ), which he and his late wife Enid Dame founded in 1979.
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A Poem by Robert Milby 
 
In Memory of Donald Lev
Donald, you arrived in Spring, during one of our worst depressions;
you left in Autumn, on the cusp of October.
Throughout your life, you wrote your own lines; none could contest your authentic scroll.
You were a living lantern for younger poets; your elder Soul.
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You brought the news of the poets, by the poets, and to the poets.
When you lost Enid, she gained you, again; as you reached out to her,
at each poetry reading, whether or not you read her works aloud.
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In our Hudson Valley, we kept a place for you at every word banquet.
Each year, we honored you at the coffeehouse in New Paltz, with a summer reading.
Sagacity and wit, lost on the young; but a comfort to the old.
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How did you, son of New York City stay in Ulster County, after your great loss?
Poetry. You gave us immortality in a tabloid; words and paper proof that even yesterday’s news,
passed into history, has merit in memory.
We will think of you, at our many poetry readings, where you no longer sit, dozing,
or exacting your urban wit of a true, noble prophet; and laughter of an old, and trusted friend.
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Albany Poets Remember Donald Levhttps://albanypoets.com/2018/10/donald-lev-1936-2018/

Talking With a Very Funny Fellowhttp://giantstepspress.blogspot.com/2012/07/talking-with-very-funny-fellow.html

 
What Some Have Said Of The Poetry of  Donald Lev
 
“Writing, crafting poetry that’s lyrical, meaningful and imaginative; that says something about the self and the universe is not as easy as it looks – and I can think of at least two dozen “famous” small press poets who should sit at the feet of Mr. Lev (though he’d probably flick them off with a hand).”  –Phil Wagner, Iconoclast
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“How to save the planet? From Don Lev’s poems to God’s ear, that’s how.”
 -Bob Holman 
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“Donald Lev writes poems that are deceptively simple yet infused with a subtle irony that gives them a poignant intimacy.  He achieves this through his reliance on directness and honesty.  For Lev, the writing is easy, compared to all the living that led to it.  Yet we get the impression that his writing is also essential to his ongoing sanity, and this is the redemption of poetry itself in the hands of a master.”   -Eric Greinke, Presa

“Apart from the funny business Lev is a poet of thought and theme, though he would doubtless pooh-pooh such a notion. With an unassuming lightness reminiscent of Piet Hein’s Grooks, Lev spins out little dialectical webs that define an ironic persona, self-reflective to a fault, confused and weak in the tangle of every day’s human predicament, yet whose neuroses rest on a broader foundation of affirmation and for whom poetry provides the redemptive charms necessary to get through the day.” – William Seaton 

“Donald Lev is a poetic treasure not only here in the Hudson River Valley, but also in New York State, indeed the entire Nation of Poetry & otherwise”. – Dan Wilcox

 Donald Lev on Youtubehttps://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=poet+donald+lev

Some Books by Donald Lev:

Only Wings – http://presapress.com/books/only-wings-20-poems-of-devotion

Where I Sit – http://presapress.com/books/where-i-sit

Focus – https://books.nyq.org/title/focus

A Very Funny Fellow – https://books.nyq.org/title/averyfunnyfellow

Intercourse With the Dead – https://www.abebooks.com/9780917402111/Intercourse-dead-Poems-Downtown-poets-0917402111/plp

The Darkness Above- Selected Poems 1968-2002 – https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=22666312949&searchurl=kn%3Ddonald%2Blev%26sortby%3D17%26ds%3D20&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title1

Grief – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3571290-grief

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Robert Milby, of Florida, NY, has been reading his poems, public since March, 1995, and hosts four Hudson Valley poetry readings; including the popular series at Mudd Puddle Café in New Paltz.  He has published several books of poetry, and two cds.  Since October, 2003, Milby and Performance Artist, Carl Welden perform as Theremin Ghosts!  Milby reads original ghost and gothic poems, as Welden accompanies on the Moog Theremin.  Milby is the Poet Laureate of Orange County, NY 2017- 2019.

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The Third Voice: Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration by Eric Greinke

EPSON MFP image
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By Jennifer Hetrick
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Presa Press published what’s crucial to say across the unseen ties between one person, another, and all of us in Eric Greinke‘s The Third Voice: Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration.
 
Released in 2017, the book weaves academic and analytical aspects of approaching poetry through Greinke and a number of fellow scribes clearly cherished by him well beyond what’s tucked under the proverbial skull. And a reference to bones fits well here in that they’re universal in the marrow we all have and need. Heart-wrenchingly, three of five of Greinke’s collaboration partners passed away between 2011 and 2012.
 
Poet Hugh Fox shared line-writing with Greinke as final language-carving efforts in knowing cancer would take his body away from him. Their paired words intertwine into the often mentioned third voice, perhaps in the same family and vein as the idea of collective consciousness.
 
Greinke says, “Above all, we both knew that the best thing we could do in the face of Hugh’s impending death was to write a poem about it.” Embracing versus avoiding the truth of blood, bones, and the body’s systems, even in the face of cancer-too-common death, brings out a sense of truly living which isn’t as easy to see sometimes in stressed, slowly-edging-toward-the-grave others of the world.
 
Deep into drawn-out stanzas, the ninth in a 170-line poem titled “Beyond Our Control” glides with Greinke’s voice, that of his then-dying friend, and the third voice created by them for all of the world and those who cannot or do not write but whose insides would understand the meaning in the snap of a resilient finger.
 
We have been carried along by a flood of songs,
mostly in languages we didn’t understand as the audio-visual world
wasn’t our reality, but the melodies played around us as
wind-tree bird-song thunders that brought us back to our real selves
yet forward and away from ourselves too, into a long
immersion in the sensual celebrations of
sub-atomic love down ancient genetic pathways.
 
While the collaborative poems in this book sometimes blend voices across lines, others are one written in response to another (“Axes” to “Swiss Army [Knife],” “Carpenter Ants” to “Black Flies” with Harry Smith who Greinke so enjoyed talking to by phone but never actually met). A number of poems spanning these pages are similar to former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and the late Jim Harrison’s book Braided Creek, penned as correspondence while Kooser went through cancer—although the two perhaps wisely and whimsically elected not to identify which friend wrote which of the 300+ observer-oriented glimmers published by Copper Canyon Press in 2003.
 
Greinke’s reverence for collaborative poetry stretches from the early 1970s into recent years, and he’s never limited himself in the possibilities of how combining mind-space with that of a good friend builds strength and art which might not otherwise float on up into this realm of days.
 
Philosophy bobs and knits onward at the second surface of Greinke’s writing paired with the voices of fellow poets. But he doesn’t lend to the belief that poetry must be serious and without its own deserved comedy and comfort of awkwardness at least some of the time. He illustrates this in the following instructional poem excerpt as the first of four stanzas written with Ronnie Lane , first published in their joint venture Great Smoky Mountains in 1974.
 
Bath Ornament
 
Lay down. Chew dead calendars.
Drink Pancreas Tea.
Eat Libraries. 
 
Libraries are so valuable to literary-loving folks that wanting to gobble them up in certain moments doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
 
The beautiful mush of two brains clinking together their quirks and curiosities—and obscure or not-really-so-obscure-at-all thoughts housed in them, is a welcome specificity in stanzas.
 
“Collaborative poetry achieves a level of universality that is greater because it is a social rather than a personal artifact,” Greinke explains early on in this book. And while he didn’t say it directly, the most vital point and beauty of what he conveys, in other words—poetry-drenched ones—resonates: the world and its people need poetry. Alone and together all at once, fully, deeply, and away from the disconnection and dividing we see around us and hear about too often in the news, with hardly as much attention given to the compassion across collaborations in communities. This book’s language and goals are necessary and will show readers the often untested waters of what we can achieve when we support each other at a heart-level while we’re on this earth.
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The author of a three-year project called the labors of our fingertips: poems from manufacturing history in berks county, Jennifer Hetrick is a journalist, editor, and photographer, and she also teaches poetry in schools and state parks. Her traveling poetry class often meets at the Schuylkill River in warmer seasons.

Poets In Review

poets in review

Poets In Review

By Eric Greinke

Presa Press 2016

124 Pages

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Review by g emil reutter

A book review is one person’s opinion. Many reviews have no impact on sales of books, however some do. The value in a review, positive or negative, is the fact the reviewer took the time not only to read the book but to write about it..

Eric Greinke has collected his book reviews into Poets In Review. While some may believe Greinke’s ego and desire to be included in the literary cannon motivated the publication of this book, I believe his motivation was also to publish a history of post-modern poetry as witnessed through his eyes..

The reviews written between 1972 and 2015 bring into question relevance. Can dated reviews of old books be valued in today’s world? I believe they are relevant. To know history is to know lineage and Greinke has them all in this collection. He is tough on Bukowski and Creeley, kind to Giovanni, Hall and Lifshin. There is a progression in poetic thought and insight on Greinke’s part, a maturing over four decades. Some of the reviews are long and rambling others tense and short. There are books reviewed published by major houses and by small presses..

Poets In Review is a snap shot of the history of American poetry during an era of change and challenges. Get a copy, see from where you have come..

You can get the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Poets-Review-Eric-Greinke/dp/0996502602

g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. He can be found at:https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/