Critical Comments

Critical Comments


“Greinke shatters the detachment of some very striking images with a vibrant personality, putting the poet at the center of poetry. He hits us with a rare craftmanship, combining swift, concise images with the unadorned minute experience Dos Passos called ‘the only business of poetry’.”     -Jospeh Dionne, in THE TRAVERSE CITY EAGLE


“I find Eric Greinke’s work particularly fascinating and inspiring. There’s a deliberate duplicity of meaning in all his writing, obsessed with the ambiguities of both life and language and delightedly exploring those nuances and half-lights as his work proceeds.”       -Peter Thomas, in THE SAULT EVENING NEWS


“His style has always appealed to me: the declarative statements like mystical aphorisms. Greinke’s work, is for me, like Rimbaud’s prose poems – surrealisitic yet precise and detailed. I have this same kind of confidence and reaction to both poets – that this is literature.”     -Kirby Congdon, in AMARANTHUS

“Greinke writes a kind of heightened imagism or re-defined symbolism. His work is mysterious and powerful, relying on the use of crypticisms and ambiguities. The effect is that of making the reader the poet, with the poet acting more as a spiritual medium.”     -Robert Swets, in THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS

IRON ROSE (1973)

“Greinke deals with the penetration of the impenetrable, the struggle of love in a brutally forbidding world. Surely controlled metaphors, strikingly simple yet invitingly complex.”     -David Greisman, in ABBEY


“(A Greinke) poem, like the sections of Jerzy Kosinski’s “Steps”, is composed of short, nonlinear but cumulative statements. Greinke’s power lies in concrete description and terse, tight comparison. Greinke has made a gesture which I’ve long awaited.”      -John Jacob, in MARGINS


“Greinke has magically melted several worlds together. I’d call it Whitmanic rorschach: a wild high!”     -William Harrold, in THE SMALL PRESS REVIEW

“Greinke has put a lot of thought into context and structure. His poems are filled with simple images which have a deeper meaning and keep the reader interested throughout.”     -M.C. Eichman, in WISCONSIN REVIEW

SELECTED POEMS 1975-2005 (2005)

“Like Japanese poems in translation, his poems are often simple and unadorned. He makes apt use of poetic techniques, such as meter and slant rhyme. These poems are extremely accessible and yet surprisingly deep, like ordinary speech heightened.”     -Alyce Wilson, in WILD VIOLET

“Eric Greinke provides us with a convincing album of snapshots of a private landscape, and lets us see the intensity of life and activity in a season and in a place we would ordinarily shun as one to live in, let alone write poems about. The poems are short, vivid and chilling, much like an ice cube in your lap that has fallen out of your whiskey sour.”     -Kirby Congdon, THE SMALL PRESS REVIEW

“It’s been said that the true mark of art is to make people think.  In his latest book, Eric Greinke does just that.  Greinke’s poems are surreptitious creatures, seemingly up front at first, then grabbing hold of the reader’s psyche and taking it for a ride.”     -Julie Bonner Stevenson, in THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS

“Eric Greinke’s infinite variety has never staled nor withered.  His poems have the surreaistic magic of Magritte or the young Dali.  He is an eclectic poet for all seasons and all times of the day.”     -Leslie H. Whitten, Jr., columnist, WASHINGTON POST

“Greinke seamlessly weaves together the vibrance of the naturalist with the unsettling images of dream worlds and mimes.  His collection of work from more than three decades establishes Eric Greinke as an accomplished poet, seeing both worlds seen and unseen.”     -POETSWEST


“The poems are brief, yet flower with sparkling beauty, embodying the human yearning for freedom and the poet’s struggle to release himself from convention. A wondrous collection, featuring verses that beg to be read aloud in either tongue.”     -THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

“I’m attracted to Greinke’s approach for several reasons. First, because he’s a poet who’s unapologetically trying to translate poetry into poetry. A tough proposition requiring shameless intuition and not only the courage – but the inner need to risk ‘poetic flight.’ The need to work without a net. Another reason I’m attracted to Greinke’s approach is that for him, Rimbaud is a labor of love, not a “project.” In his introduction, he talks about a feeling of déjà vu when first encountering Rimbaud. And describes what seems an almost compulsive sense of appropriated ownership. An annoyance at the existing translations. ‘A need to do his own.’ To a non-translator, these feelings may sound a little over the top. But to any one who translates poetry – they’re instantly recognizable. Greinke’s only saying what most poetry translators think, but usually think twice about saying. I’ve often felt a translator needs to look beyond the words and beneath the text for the roots of the original poem. What really differentiates Greinke’s version is that it reads like a poem written in English. And I think this was accomplished by tapping the roots as well as the words of the original. By “internalizing” the original and letting the new poem shape itself in the new language. Rather than forcing the French into English.”     -Art Beck, in RATTLE

“For music, for the flow, the force of the spirit, Greinke is the easy winner. Although the auditory music of Rimbaud is impossible to capture in English, Greinke is true to the inner music, while giving a sense of the flow of the original. His language is sensuous and wild and feels right.”     -Harry Smith,  in THE SMALL PRESS REVIEW

“Greinke’s renderings come across with such a remarkably contemporary feel, that he easily gets away with the occasional use of words like ‘car’ and ‘suburbia’.  This little collection boasts many fine poems.  The Drunken Boat is wild and lovely and perhaps the poet’s most vivid expression of his desire to find a life of total freedom.”     -Edward J. Hogan, in ASPECT

“The images are lovely, lush and luxuriant.  Rimbaud comes across as an artist in love with love, with art; in love with the romantic notion of the poet trying to free himself from convention.  The poems here can only be described as rich: with both metaphor, and music.  Greinke has produced an accessible and evocative piece of work.”     -Doug Holder, in THE CHIRON REVIEW


“Eric Greinke’s poems, like messages in a bottle, found after so many years of being afloat, are the experiences of being within, the experiences of being in nature. Each poem is a cathedral of actuality, of thought, of inspiration. He has the rare talent to walk with our environment, to bring us a profound lesson that nature often has if we listen to the ice crystals or growing green. He takes our hand and shows us what we have forgotten to look at.”     -Irene Koronas, in POESY

“The true mark of art is making people think – and poet Eric Greinke does just that.  “Wild Strawberries” is a quick compact dose of solid, effective poetry.  His variety should keep the book fresh from the front cover to the back cover.  Recommended to poetry lovers everywhere and to any comprehensive poetry community library.”     -THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

“Eric Greinke’s Wild Strawberries is an ambitious work.  Mostly imagistic, these poems have a surface matter of factness, but with deft insight.  Nature poetry, global visionary video, horror story in the best traditions of Hollywood gore – as I said at the outset, this book is an ambitious undertaking.   Readers with wide-ranging tastes and free-flying imaginations may swoon over this book for its varied content and technique.”     -Richard Swanson, in FREE VERSE

“As a poet, Greinke is hard to pin down. His poems are imagistic with touches of surrealism, but he’s not really an imagist or a surrealist in the purest sense. I found more than a passing kinship with magic realism in his poems, but, again, he’s not a magic realist. Rather, Greinke is very much his own exotic animal. Wild Strawberries is a triumph for poet, Eric Greinke, and a gift to readers of poetry everywhere.”     -John C. Erianne, in THE 13TH WARRIOR REVIEW

“Eric Greinke writes with a cosmological ease in Wild Strawberries which in a breath combines the sensuality of the strawberry with the metaphysical ponderings of ghosts, spirits and zombies. Here is a clear, personal poetic testimony by an American poet that poetry is meaningful and understandable.”     -David Stone, in BLACKBIRD

“Please don’t miss reading Wild Strawberries. The poems seem so gentle and easy to take in, but then you understand there is a deeper meaning, a relationship is being explored, and you find yourself thinking about his poetry all day, and I mean really thinking.”     -Carol Borzyskowski, in MAIN CHANNEL VOICES

“Greinke writes across a rather broad spectrum. He knows nature intimately, and he’s not afraid to let his imagination float and flutter and soar. That boldness takes a certain kind of courage. His lines are written with vigor and thought, a pretty potent combination.”     -John Berbrich, in BARBARIC YAWP

“The author cannot be identified by his poems, rather his poems identify him. He doesn’t write in one particular style or mood. The tone of his poetry is as varied as the topics he writes about. He writes of his memories, of nature, of everyday life and does so in a manner that brings out the essence of being human and transports the reader to the mystical place that resides in each poem.”     -Amber Rothrock, in THE ILLOGICAL MUSE


“In Greinke’s hands, kayaking becomes as poetic as anything can be, a metaphor for living. If you do not yet own an Eric Greinke book, this might be the one to start with.”     -Judy Swann, in VERSE WISCONSIN

“By themselves, Greinke’s prose poems are charming observations about a sport and that sport’s relationship to life–charming, of course, being used here in the positive sense of the word. But as a group of pieces and arranged in this particular order, they become the river itself. This structure, combined with Greinke’s incisive eye for the river’s beauty and liveliness and a profound, even Transcendental spirituality, make this small book a moving journey for those who undertake it.”      -THE PEDESTAL MAGAZINE

“Practical, often metaphoric, and slyly amusing advice in prose poem form.”     -ICONOCLAST


“Like two monks letting sand sift through their fingers, Elsberg and Greinke create a Mandela, blow us away with nameless signatures. This chapbook is a keeper, a continuous picker-upper.”     -WILDERNESS HOUSE LITERARY REVIEW

“The clarity of imagery in their work (Elsberg/Greinke’s Catching The Light – 12 Haiku Sequences) is striking, and the speed with which they present those images reveals how the transience of natural beauty is like that of our own thoughts. They invite us to experience the intimacy of desire, loneliness, and suffering–often using their wit.”     -Amanda Newell, in EASTERN  SHORE WRITERS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER

“Two well-established poets/editors/translator/publishers try their hand at haiku sequences in a manner reminiscent of John Brandi and Steve Sanfield in No Other Business Here (1999) and Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser in Braided Creek (2003). Elsberg and Greinke’s writing is definitely on the ‘poetry’ end of the haikai genre, often as not forsaking seasonality, internal comparison, and Oriental aesthetics for vibrancy of image and beauty of language.”     -MODERN HAIKU

“I can only impress on the reader to explore further for themselves. Should haiku ever be accused of being bland, then Catching The Light must be the ultimate counter-argument. There are individual ku here, if not whole sequences, which are guaranteed to stay with you for a good long time.”     – Helen Buckingham


The Potential of Poetry by Eric Greinke is one of those books that you know is important, even if you’re not sure why. ‘Good things come in small packages,’ as the old saying goes.”     – Jim Barnes, INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER, JENKINS GROUP

The Potential of Poetry is a collection of essays from Eric Greinke, which discuss the role and purpose of poetry in today’s world as an art form and in the world as a whole. Simple and profound work with plenty to muse on literature and art in general, The Potential of Poetry is a choice addition to literary studies collections.”     -James A. Cox, THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

The Potential of Poetry is a short book of seven essays about poetic practice… This is an enjoyable and insightful overview of the poetry scene that is well worth reading.”     -Arnold Skemer, THE SMALL PRESS REVIEW

“This is Greinke at his best, advocating at the cutting edge of human growth in consciousness and love, and doing it with poetry.”     -Ann Wehrman, POETRY NOW

“Not to spoil any sort of ending or wrap-up, but according to Mr. Greinke, the potential of poetry is limitless.  One may as well limit the potential of the human species.  All things are possible in poetry.  Once more, a march of civilization unaccompanied by poetry is more of a trudge.  This concise handbook discusses the eternal verities:  how and why poetry matters.  What does poetry hope to mean or accomplish?  Is one style better than another?  Is there a right way to understand or read a poem?  The author answers these questions in plain, easy to follow and understand prose. That the book seems a lesson plan (topics for discussion on every page) is a tribute to Mr. Greinke’s experiences as an educator, editor, publisher, and of course, poet, among other things, established him, as a spokesperson for the art non-pareil.  In an era of little time, respect and patience, he may be the best person to spread the non-religious good news – a people’s poet laureate.”       — Phil Wagner, Iconoclast


“Greinke’s gift for subtle, memorable imagery is one of my favorite things about his work, and it is a quality that is on display throughout Traveling Music. The title poem is a perfect example of Greinke at his enigmatic and effervescent best.”     -Joselle Vanderhooft, THE PEDESTAL MAGAZINE

“Some of the poems in this full-length book, “Traveling Music” take their last breath, leave the reader frozen in the reality of wilderness…”     -Irene Koronas,WILDERNESS HOUSE LITERARY REVIEW

“Highly experienced and very prolific poet Eric Greinke brings readers a unique journey into the psyche of the poet. Traveling Music is a solid addition to any community library poetry collection.”     – John Taylor, THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW

“Greinke is a spacious poet of Soul; each poem is like a dab of spirit from such a great soul. There is an easy flow, an unstrained lucidity, a surreal exuberance about his poetry. Let us revere this great man of letters in lionlike Age; he gives us so much.”     – Charles Thompson, VARIOUS ARTISTS  (UK)

“Greinke’s gift for subtle, memorable imagery is one of my favorite things about his work. He is a master of the fleeting glimpse, the hint of land through the mist, the black hole moving towards earth, the ghosts whispering…”     -Joselle Vanderhooft, THE PEDESTAL MAGAZINE

“Eric Greinke draws the reader into his evocative imagination, taking respite from his depictions of unforgiving reality through the beauty of nature. Traveling Music entwines themes of nature, mortality, and questions of the future of the earth with arresting and affecting imagery that pulls the reader into a multifaceted, sometimes surreal, landscape. Greinke’s arrangement of meter is splendid and his display of forms and genres brilliant; from satirical pieces to prose poems to haiku, he weaves delicate alliteration and assonance throughout his works.”     -Acachia K. Schriml in HAWAI’I PACIFIC REVIEW

“Bly’s influence on Greinke is apparent also in his didactic poems, prosaic descriptions redeemed with poetic wisdom, personification of inert objects, and coming to terms with death. A generation behind Bly, Greinke honors his style and extends his lexicon.”     -Richard Aston, OFF THE COAST


“Within the five interviews selected for publication, Eric Greinke gives the reader a glimpse of how the small press works and its history as it relates to Greinke’s involvement. His devotion and energy to the poetic community is astounding and deserves praise. What Greinke speaks about applies now and will always apply because he is a principled poet with a commitment to the community.”     -Irene Koronas, BOSTON AREA SMALL PRESS AND POETRY SCENE

“His survey of the small press movement clarifies it very well and, for me, was uplifting, having been a part of it. Besides the factual information that I enjoyed hearing about in this survey, there were two bells that rang in my mind and called me back to my church: conviction and integrity.”     -Kirby Congdon, SMALL PRESS REVIEW

“The thirty year span makes a comparison between the Eric Greinke in his thirties and the one later in life interesting for the continuing enthusiasm and belief in the good our small presses achieve. The underground continues to churn, thankfully. Eric Greinke’s reflections show us several reasons why.”     -David Chorlton, FUTURE CYCLE PRESS

“Greinke speaks of the inner mystery and ambiguity of poetry. It’s really like a living, breathing spirit to him. Greinke has a broad view of both poetry and of life.”     -John Berbrich, BARBARIC YAWP

“Conversations Pieces offers us a rare opportunity to approach and understand a poet’s more abstract work via the poet himself. How interesting to see this sustained interest in symbols, and the intense desire to engage his readers, making them poets, and making poetry a communicative and tranformational experience. This is a fortunate gift, and helps in appreciating the dedication and artistry of Eric Greinke.”     -Timothy McLafferty, VERSE WISCONSIN


“This remarkable collaboration between Hugh Fox and Eric Greinke depicts the soul’s journey through eons to one man’s approaching end. It took incredible skill and the unison of two individuals thinking as one mind to pull off this amazing accomplishment.”     -Linda Lerner, SMALL PRESS REVIEW

“The two poets wrote alternate lines until the project was completed. ‘The first thing we saw upon arrival was/ the salamander legs and bat black eyes/ that emanated from a face of/ distant stellar cold light years/ that was strangely familiar/ from ancient demon-goddess dreams/ where eternal fire flares from onyx eyes.’ There is a feeling of exhilaration that comes over the reader when reading such lines.”     -Arnold Skemer, ZYX 64


“These tanka sequences, like the blacksmith’s blade, are inspired and the chapbook itself is a little masterpiece. The authors and Cervena Barva Press should be proud.”     -Dennis Daly, BOSTON AREA SMALL PRESS AND POETRY SCENE

“Welcome to the world of tankas – and what a wonderful world it is. I couldn’t think of a better chapbook to celebrate this ancient Japanese poetry form than this book. Needless to say, every poet should read this chapbook to revel in its greatness and learn from the authors’ craft. Writing programs should use it as a teaching tool for the modern tanka style. Everyone else should read it because it is so damn good.”     -Francis Alix, SMALL PRESS REVIEW

“This collaborative work casts kaleidoscopic poetic glimmerings… The result is a stunning tanka sequence that alternates between quiet natural earthy airy meditations and the pulsating, twisting human condition of our times.”     -Devin McGuire, THE AUROREAN


“One of the most effective poets on the scene, a master word/idea worker who deserves the strongest possible lauds.”     -THE SMALL PRESS REVIEW

“Greinke brings us on a journey through his life beginning with a short poem, Fur Found Rhythm, written in 1969 to the beautifully sad Flood Tide, written in 2012. Greinke writes not for awards but because he is a poet, it is what he does, and we are better for it.”     -G Emil Reutter, FOX CHASE REVIEW

“There’s a strong vein of surrealism in this collection. This species of surrealism goes beyond dreams to nightmare, that nightmare of the collective consciousness that hovers over us all, that haunts our waking hours and crushes us under its weight.”     -Arnold Skemer, ZYX 65

“The poems of Eric Greinke, like Sandburg’s fog, “come on little cat feet”—observe, contemplate, meditate, accept, and move on. They gather momentum like a mighty wind, and they are not soon forgotten. Reading this deep and thoughtful book is akin to skating on a pristine sheet of ice; the top layer is still and serene, but the poet is mindful of the cracks beneath the surface. With undercurrents that flow in numerous directions, a Greinke poem is more ambitious than its brevity would imply, while maintaining an independent streak and placid cool. Its undertones are vaguely political, sexual, and religious, but the poems are not about politics, sex, or religion. Greinke gives weight to the power of memory, and there is certainly a nostalgic feel to some of the poems, but he also pays homage to the here-and-now and the future. The language is oddly violent and, simultaneously, benign. The poems are suffused with sagacity and, yet, the poet approaches all things with a fresh and earnest ponder. The poems feel somehow safe; yet they take the type of astounding risks that poets ought to take. The tone is reflective and kindly, with delightful bouts of unique wordplay (“laugh-burlap-sourcream-mantelpiece body”) and sly humor appearing in unexpected places (“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen//Nobody knows my monthly electric bill”). Through unadorned vernacular, the poet teaches us that there can be much depth in simplicity and, simply stated, Eric Greinke’s voice is a calming balm with an off-beat bent.


“In terms of form, Eric Greinke carves an eclectic niche; like snowflakes, no two poems are exactly alike. Not only do these selected poems have a wide wingspan of years (from 1969-2012), but they also bridge the unlikely gap between the hypnagogic and the concrete world of trees, dead dogs on highways, clocks, and loss. The poet recognizes those connections and somehow reconciles their differences. Greinke is at ease in many genres, which reside comfortably alongside each other—from poetry of the marvelous in the fine tradition of Rimbaud and Neruda, to the more traditional poems of Robert Frost. He is adept at the short, introspective prose poem which merges the surreal with the linear, no small feat. He is every bit the gentle, rugged poet of heart and humanity as Gary Snyder—and sometimes he just tells a darn good yarn, with warmth and intensity, and draws you right in.


“Greinke’s biggest strength is his mixed bag of styles. In “Black Milk,” the poet’s couplets contain mismatched phrases that hint at things and throw an interesting curve, while utilizing enough connective associations to make the lines sound plausible. He then easily transitions to a poem that uses plainspoken parlance: “Wild Strawberries” is, arguably, as pithy and profound as William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow,” beginning with a simple image evoked from childhood, and ending with a pointed statement about the all-too-fleeting passage of time.


“Greinke plants seeds liberally throughout these poems (seeds of thought, action, and interaction), and, as he predicts, they do grow. When he’s not dabbling in the surrealistic arts, he becomes the ultimate nature poet, not just as someone who admires the gifts of Mother Nature, but who propels personification to transcendental heights. His personal communes with wildlife encompass its often cruel realities, but what is even more distinctive in these particular poems is the way he links the hierarchy of the animal kingdom to human nature.


“In poems such as “Black Flies,” the flies are seen as an “eternal onslaught,” conjuring biblical plague; while, in “Dilemma,” the hawk is pitted against the sparrow, with the poet (Man) as the final arbiter of their fates. And, in “The Accident,” Man’s brutal impulses are brought to the fore, and are nothing less than jarring. Yet, Greinke is no messenger of doomsday; it is clear that the lovely universal landscape is where he chooses to spend most of his leisure hours. But despite his tendency towards the magical, he is, at heart, a realist.”     -Cindy Hochman, THE PEDESTAL MAGAZINE

“Containing a selection of poems spanning five decades, Eric Greinke’s new book, For the Living Dead is a sort of “greatest hits” collection chosen by the poet himself. Across the years, his work embraces many of the same themes, concerns and styles, a playful but serious meditation on the universe around us, both the natural and supernatural.


“Greinke writes in deceptively simple language, like Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson. Like Frost, too, he has a real feel for the woods and the water, only set in Michigan, not New England. There are poems about storms (“After the Ice Storm,” “Cape May Storm,” “Summer Storm”), about time and the seasons (“The Lake in Winter,” “April,” “May,” “October,” “Our House”), and haiku-like images of nature abound in such poems as “Drifts,” “Flotsam,” “Leelanau Fire,” “The Dark Roofs.” He vividly shows us what is.

“Yet for all the accurately observed natural details, there is also a flight into the illogic of dreams and what might be called the “supernatural.” Take the title poem, for instance, an eight-page poem written in 2007. Beginning in a familiar picture of solitude, a man in nature, it quickly veers into a surreal, post-apocalyptic story of zombies and robots.

“For my money, Greinke is at the top of his game when he is describing a scene, telling a story whose implications do not need to be spelled out; they throb with a kind of numinous significance lurking below the story he tells, the situation he describes. Poems like “The Accident” (1972) exemplify this, but it is true especially of some of his more recent work: “My Father’s Job,” in which the car factory is shown as a sort of prison, and his father’s existence, a life sentence; “Shooting Lessons,” in which a boy accidentally kills his brother with his father’s shotgun and is never the same; “There and Back,” a story about being assaulted at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago by a group of drunken teenagers. ‘It would never be easy to distinguish/our friends from our enemies again.’”     -Charles Rammelkamp, CHAMBER FOUR

“There is a Blakeian energy to these poems that pulses through the shorter ones in particular – in true Beat tradition, the senses are rhapsodic even at their most cataclysmic.

“Greinke believes in endings, as in “Haunted Windows”: ‘We cry for wings/Even as wings approach’, or the quietly resonant ‘We reserve our opinions/Our private parking spaces’ that end ‘Spaces.’

“Politics are a motive force. There is an eyewitness thrill to ‘There & Back’, a poem about the 1968 Democratic Convention, a disillusionment in its ending, (the young poet and friends were savagely attacked by their peers): ‘All the way home I digested the sour/truth. It would never be easy to distinguish/our friends from our enemies again.’

“The work has wide geographic reach. The least rhetorical poems enchant me.

“Greinke’s a great storyteller, an implicit element central to ‘Shooting Lessons’, and ‘The Accident’, among others. The use of dialogue in these poems makes me wish for more.”     -Aileen La Tourette, THE  JOURNAL (UK)

“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.”     – Mary Kate DeJardin, THE STONEBOAT LITERARY  JOURNAL

“…Greinke’s tone is unpretentious, his usual diction far from rarefied.  (Also, his occasional penchant for too-easy rhymes undercut  me appreciation for his skill, the understated restraint that his better pieces display.)  Anyway, the going can seem easy, perhaps easier that it should go.  I blazed through the first ten pages, felling brief poems like saplings, neglecting to take notes, until I found myself at “The Forest,” able to understand the surface of the poem, able to appreciate that it could also function as a parable, but confronted by a mystical opacity that stymied rational analysis.  So I put down my axe, my arrogant presumption that “Fine.  I know what this one’s about.  And this one.  And this one.”  And I moved deeper into the trees.  And I willingly got lost.”     -John F. Buckley, ARCADIA

“Eric Greinke’s For The Living Dead: New & Selected Poems gathers poems from 1969-2012 and shows the breadth of Greinke’s work.  The poems are tough, tight, simple and beautiful.  The improvisational feel of the lines, and the short sentences punch sounds like a jazz sideman on Saturday night.  Greinke’s work is visceral, soulful, sometimes simple, but never simplistic.  The lyrics in the collection are balanced with narrative, and Greinke’s collection offers up a full plate for fans and new readers alike; the volume illustrates Greinke’s contribution to American verse.  The collection ends with Flood Tide, a Prufrockian elegy for love where death proves to be the great isolator in a flood of sensory information.  The human spirit and condition are Greinke’s subject, and in this well-balanced collection offers up insight and music.”  — S. Scott Whitaker, Goodreads


“Eric Greinke’s latest collection of poems, For The Living Dead, covers over four decades of poetry, written from 1969-2012.  The poems here are arranged chronologically, which makes it fun to compare the older ones with the more recent and possible to trace the author’s development over his lengthy career.  We get bizarre images—like the weird landscapes of Salvador Dali, but strongly realistic in the presentation.  For me, the standout work of this 160-page book is the title poem, For The Living Dead.  The tone of the poem is elegiac, it is filled with zombies and robots.  The robots are both the programmed youth of today and the wonderful gimcracks we have developed with our progressive, seemingly unstoppable technology.  A veteran of the small press, Greinke is a widely published poet and essayist.  His work is firm, rooted in images and narrative.  He’s gentle and philosophical, always taking time for a few moments with nature.  A reliable, readable, thoughtful, current-day poet – one that deserves to be read.”    –John Berbrich, Blueline #35



“Greinke has a direct and conversational way with his words.  Readers who grab this book will e twisted and thrown through surrealist and bold spectrums as they move through the pages.  For The Living Dead contains a wide range of poetry from the author’s career, from 1969-2012 and it is simply amazing to watch a talented writer become seasoned through each turn of the page.  You almost think you get to know the poet through this wealth of material collected here, but I get the feeling there’s a lot more to steal away from the poet.  I would definitely recommend this collection to anyone who is interested in poetry or interested in starting out as a poet.  The book has great connections through each page and completely immerses the reader in his well-written lines.  This is simply a must have for all poetry lovers out there.”     –Weasel, Weasel Press


“Considering my age, it’s hard to wrap my head around a career that spans nearly forty years.  This collection features excerpts picked from just such a career, and going through them is fascinating.  The poems themselves are of a high quality, but watching the evolution of the author before your eyes gives it so many more dimensions.  Reading the earliest of them, unsure in style, like a fawn wobbling to its feet.  Filled with love, lust, sunny afternoons & declarations of life.  Watching it progress to experiments with surrealist language, reflecting trends of the time.  The years soon become farther & father between, and the writing more cynical.  Then a return to basics; a few simplistic works after a long break.  Then they ramp up again, featuring reflections on nature, time, society, all written with a much more confident hand.  The eponymous poem, lengthy and encompassing, a play on the zombie-like nature which the author has born witness to.  Then, as age sets in, the work takes on reflective quality; old friends, lovers, moments from childhood looked back on fondly or regrettably.  These moments give flesh to what would be just the bare bones of the words on the page, making this collection, in a way, the living dead; old words, times, experiences, never quite capturing the reality, but continue as the last trace of its existence.”   — Matt Lewis, Goodreads


“The living dead concept in this book’s title, common in religious literature, but an oxymoron to some, appears in science at sub-atomic dimensions where quantum mechanical effects are measurable, as popularized by Schrodinger’s Cat.  It’s an insight that deepens otherwise, lucid, simple, descriptive poems.  His words predominately less than three syllables, yield an over-all iambic meter, but more often with assonance than end-rhymed, more with alliteration than a marching beat.  Early-late comparisons show the influence of his long professional practice on his poetry, as for example in his 1972 “Triad” in which:  Witnesses swear / that water mixed with blood / splashed on the earth.  That is contrasted with the common place 2006 “Cape May Storm”:  When the soaked house / Dries in the sun / Clouds of steam rise up / & naïve strangers alert the firehouse. His skepticism is consistent as is his love of capturing the moment, haiku-style, freed of a rigid five-seven-five syllable structure.”                                                                                                                            — Richard Aston, Off The Coast



“Early in 2016, Presa Press released a book by one of my longtime favorite small press reviewers, a fellow poet by the name of Eric Greinke.  Poets In Review gathers reviews from two decades of this activity.  It’s remarkable that what we might call Greinke’s “taste principles” have changed little over time.  This could be a bad thing, of course, but Greinke was blessed early on with the most important quality in a good book reviewer:  curiosity.  Combined with his innate humaneness and honesty, Greinke has managed to write down-to-earth, insightful reviews in which one intelligent reader addresses other readers that he assumes to be equally intelligent.”  — Joseph Hutchinson

“What one notices about Greinke is his open and unassuming manner motivated by his simple desire to get the reader interested in the poet he reviews.  There is a relaxed informality with no ax to grind.  You feel instinctively that you have been told the truth in each of his appraisals.”  — Arnold Skemer, ZYX #72

“Widely published and internationally acclaimed poet Eric Greinke wrote reviews of his contemporaries in two periods, from 1972-1982 and from 2005-2015.  The book is divided into two sections that reprint the best reviews from each of these periods.  Most of the pieces in the first section were first published in Michigan’s second-largest newspaper, The Grand Rapids Press.  For many of the poets (i.e. Charles Bukowski), Greinke wrote the first large newspaper reviews of their careers, thus promoting their work to a general audience.  The reviews in the second section were originally published in a variety of literary publications, both online and in print.  The selections illustrate the progression of Greinke’s ideas about poetry over four decades and his perceptive insights into many of the works of the major American poets of the post-modern period.”    — EBooks Library

“Eric Greinke has collected his book reviews into Poets In Review.  I believe his motivation was to publish a history of post-modern poetry as witnessed through his eyes.  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.  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.”

— G. Emil Reutter, North Of Oxford

“Eric Greinke has published a comprehensive collection of his poetry reviews written during two periods from 1972-1982 and from 2005-2015.  His reviews are in depth, and evolve through his decades long career.  Each review is consistent, and features Greinke’s insight as a poet himself.  For anyone interested in poetry, this collection will be a useful supplement to their reading.”

— Illuminations:  An International Magazine of Contemporary Writing



“Eric Greinke has been a figurehead in the field of poetry for decades.  He uses his talent in a recent book this year in a consideration of collaborations in writing poetry, having exercised his abilities in half a dozen projects working with prominent talents in this genre.  As Mr. Greinke moves into his book, it becomes a thorough documentary of theory, history, as well as immediate references to the collaborative work itself, illustrating style, explorations and the experiences in this approach to creative poetry, and literature, for any reader.”

— Kirby Congdon, The Blue Paper, Key West

“Did you ever sit at the feet of someone, say a grandparent or some other elder in your life, who shared stories of their long life/career/travels, bask in their memories, and perhaps learn from them?  That was the feeling I had throughout my reading of Eric Greinke’s The THIRD Voice:  Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration.  In language that borrows from both literary theory and the social work/therapy realms, Greinke deconstructs those collaborations so readers understand how they came about, how the work grew out of his relationship with each poet, and what Greinke ultimately learned about poetry and the art of collaboration.  He shares pieces that were written in those collaborations as examples of how two different voices may come together in a third, new voice.  Perhaps this idea is one of the biggest take-aways of The THIRD Voice:  Poetry can be a lot of fun, word play is truly play, and who doesn’t like to have fun playing with others?  Poetic collaboration is more than play, of course.  It offers poets so many opportunities for expanding their work and for working through tough topics.  Overall, this gentle, nostalgic look at the poetic collaborations Eric Greinke has enjoyed over his writing life offers one of the best incentives of all for poets who are considering their options:  Joy.  Collaborate with another poet, let it evolve organically, and reclaim the joy of word play that called to you the day you first fell in love with a poem.”      — Kathleen Cassen Mickelson, Gyroscope Review

“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.  Greinke’s reverence for collaborative poetry stretches from the early 19702 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.  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.  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. 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.”      — Jennifer Hetrick, North Of Oxford

“I would be remiss not to include Eric’s fascinating study of working with a diverse group of five poets to create what he calls the third voice.  The five poets, three men and two women, all have distinct and completely different approaches to poetic compositions.  I can generally say that Greinke, a poet of wide range and broad poetic sensibilities, adjusts to each author and they to him.  They create work of outstanding merit well worth exploring.  I can’t recall having read a more thoughtful, more revealing examination of what it is like for two skilled poets to work together than this book.  A must for anyone interested in the process of collaborative exchange.”      — Misfit Magazine

“If you are considering a poetic collaboration in the near future, you might enjoy The THIRD Voice:  Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration by Eric Greinke.  Reading about poetic collaborations—more specifically, a poet’s personal journey over decades of collaborative experiences—is worthwhile, and so interesting.  It’s neat, and fascinating, telling, even introspective of our own voices.  Any journey spent in pursuit of poetry is joyful indeed.  This book did not let me down.  I haven’t been interested in collaborating with another poet, but I’ve long been fascinated by those who do this.  It’s risky and wonderful and not knowing what’s going to happen might be the best thing about it.  If you are thinking about a poetic collaboration, or you are simply fascinated by those who produce poetry this way, this book is a rare glimpse into this largely unexplored area of artistic expression.  It’s worth a look.”

–Glenn Lyvers, Prolific Press



“Masterplan is a successful poetry collection based on at least two elements:  1) the poems are effective for providing reading pleasure and keeping the reader interested, and 2) in being collaboratively written, the poems present a personal different and separate from the poets—these are poems that could not be written individually by either poet, reflecting an expansion of both poets’ imaginations, which is of course what’s desired in collaborations.  The poems work partly by not revealing its seams, i.e. where one poet contributed lines and the other contributed others.  I’ve read many other collaborations between poets but it’s the poem “The Weight” that impressed upon me most the talents of both poets.  Here’s the poem:

The Weight

We believed we were alone, so we never saw it

coming. We should have known our parents and

ex-lovers were always there, waiting for the first

thrill to fade.  We never should have trusted our

dogs and cats to keep our secrets to themselves.

A clean slate’s an illusion.  Our flesh is cinematic

and wounded cosmetically. Our hearts are

kaleidoscopic and ravenous.  Tabla rosa is a

delusion.  The only thing to do is lumber forward,

clumsy with the weight.  That’s what puts the ‘fat’

in fate.

If you take each of the sentences in the above poem and laid them out individually (instead of collapsing them together in a prose poem form), you could notice more easily a seeming (or immediate) lack of logical narrative linkages between each sentence.  Any connection between sentences requires that the reader spends time pondering them.  It’s a subtle, effective way of enabling the reader to inhabit the poem.  And, yes, inevitably all of the sentences do manage to cohere, which is how a poem surfaces.  What finally makes Masterplan a cut above some other collaborations is its variety of tones.  Whoever this poet personal is that was created by both poets, it’s a multifaceted persona whose wide-ranging poems keep the reader’s attention.  The third author created by Stone and Greinke may have created something for every reader and validates both poets’ decisions to write something by relying on someone else’s contribution.  They expanded themselves by releasing authorial ego, and we as readers benefit.”         —  Eileen Tabios, Galatea Resurrects

“Masterplan is a book to read at this moment, a collaboration that addresses the 24/7 news cycle, rampant consumerism, and pop culture.  Some of the poems hit as hard and as fast as a two-minute punk song, while others are meditative and lyrical, quiet celebrations of the natural world.  The book, written over three years, has its finger on the zeitgeist, with subjects ranging from mass shooting, to Middle East conflicts, to deceased rock stars. As a collaboration, Masterplan works well.  That Greinke and Stone wrote an equal number of lines in each poem leads to some nice surprises, including an ungendered speaker and a multifaceted voice that ranges from the deeply ironic to the philosophical.  It also creates unexpected and surprising shifts in a majority of the pieces, especially through the juxtaposition of images.    While some poems may bemoan our hyper-consumerist culture, others remind us to be grateful for the natural beauty around us, as hard as that may be in this noisy world.”

–Brian Fanelli, The Pedestal Magazine

“The cover of this highly stylized collaboration, by two first rate poets, is of a rock guitarist being showered with sparks, from an exploding TV, falling from a ladder, impelled into oblivion by an unseen person wielding a sledge hammer. Not only is this an effective image but it conveys the sense of boundary shattering poems these two poets create together.  Work ranges from short, five line, “Little Novels” (from an idea by the venerable Kirby Congdon) to longer, full blown, and mind bending, longer poems.  Some are funny, some are serious to the extreme and all are challenging, highlighting the seamless application of the poet’s art.  It is unclear who did what and how and that is how it should be.  Anyone interested in the collaborationist’s art will want to own this book.”                                                                    —Misfit Magazine


“In this collaborative full-length collection, Eric Greinke and Alison Stone each lend their unique talents for stunning imagery and deft phrasing to create a wealth of seamless poems.  Their individual voices, while quite different, harmonize to create a distinctive “other,” a third unique speaker whose observations are unpredictable and delightful.  The poems are varied:  they touch on many subjects and take on many forms.  They evoke diverse moods, from intense reflection to lightly humorous.  We are introduced to the collection with “Emergency,” which considers that

Maybe that’s what it means to be

human, stuck in personal hungers,

ignoring or pretending to care

about everyone else,

one nation under fear

with justice for none.

The pang of recognition is painful:  it needles the reader and beckons them to explore further.  We long for authenticity, for connection; this description of shared indifference is a not-so-gentle prod to act upon that wish for ourselves should we find the strength.  Yet is also helps us realize we are not alone.  “The Price” is a jumble of feelings:  it blends gentle cynicism, wonder, humor, and intellectual appreciation.  This poem is not purely image-driven in the conventional sense; it inspires the reader to feel the images as opposed to depending on a written description.  The concluding section of Masterplan is a study in feelings which unite us even as they provoke our feelings of loneliness. The simple human appeal of these poems is in their capacity to ‘relate the relatable’ – the natural tender wish for peace, the abstract process of becoming inured to violence, the ache for natural expression, the recognition of the eternal in the now.  “Final Heat” evokes this last fluently:

. . . There’s still time                                                                                                                                                    for a few leaps into a lake,                                                                                                                                          or one last trip to a dusty

amusement park before the

water’s chill evicts us

and the wooden

horses clip-clop away.

Long-gone stars glow here

and now, light years away

from an unknown tomorrow.

–Leanna Stead, Main Street Rag

“Alison Stone and Eric Greinke get it right when they muse beyond gender and hit a norm we can all recognize.  The sum is better than the parts when these two collaborate.  In Masterplan, both Stone and Greinke are invisible, instead we have a third entity and a new voice.  This third entity has a monster sense of humor.  Greinke and Stone harmonize wo well you only hear one voice, clear and certain.  In the middle of all this fun, Greinke/Stone set us down in the second section of Masterplan, called “Little Novels,” in thirty-one five-line quintains, unrhymed.  These splendid diminutive movies play surprisingly thorough.  Each of the “Little Novels punches you from a different direction and they come quick and heavy.  These poems are a muscle stretch for Greinke/Stone and a delight to read.  The two poets have cluster-images their id and ego until what comes out the other end is magic.  I can’t help but e impressed by the seamlessness of these constructions.  Usually when joining one thing to another there is a seam, a visible reminder, you can’t miss it.  Eric Greinke and Alison Stone’s Masterplan is masterfully built, you cannot see the space between the two poets.  It’s exciting to see optimistic poetry and Masterplan is brimming with hope.”                  –Michael Dennis, Today’s Book of Poetry

“The collaborative poetic voices of Eric Greinke and Alison Stone compliment each other in their co-authored 72-page tome, Masterplan published by Presa Press of Rockford, Michigan.  The poems do not credit either Greinke or Stone but they successfully vary in theme, form and subject matter.   The tome is full of both short and long poems of various forms that give clear images of modern life and relatable outcomes to how people react to and interpret situations.  I liked the seamless mixing of two voices in a clearly successful collaborative endeavor.”                         –Lynette G. Esposito, North of Oxford



“If there is a unifying theme here it is the evanescence of life.  The imprint of a dog’s paw prints, washed away by waves in a lake.  The dog does not even notice the sudden erasure.  In “The Sunken Dream,” a house a man built along a slow moving river is a source of happiness and pride but he receives word of the state government to build a dam that will rise the water level in this peaceable valley and cover the tine community it is in, its graveyard, church.  His place will be gone forever.  Now a septuagenarian, Greinke is not the only one with such thoughts in his mind.  This is another classic treatment by Adastra Press, printed letterpress, hand bound.  I confess that I run my fingers over the printed page, feeling the indentations of the type and know a certain happiness.”       –Arnold Skemer, ZYX #82


“The title of Mr. Greinke’s collection of poems, Shorelines, suggests the edges of different dimensions, land, water and sky.  While life-giving water appears in all eighteen poems, on the horizon we have, shall we say, the weathers of reflection and meditation in which “each of us still drowns alone.”  This insert of reality shines, as it were, through the sill of a closed or closing door beyond which are the lighted pools of fantasy, floating amid some “special toys, forgotten but not lost…where even oceans drain.”  Mr. Greinke’s work does not hammer us with this reflection but we sense it, rather remarkably, throughout this collection.  Mr. Greinke balances these considerations with the satisfactions we get by being alive.  As in the poem, “Storm Flowers,” the poem ends, after a grim news item of chrysanthemum blossoms flowing into a storm drain, with the single unadorned fact:  “new blooms opened the next day,” emphasizing how it is almost the private trivia that lets us be aware of what it is that keeps us not only alert but appreciative of our survival, like the sparkle of sea glass, a pet dog playing with the backwash of the tide.  The contrast of imagination and reality captures a way to cope when you’re over 40, or was it 50, or don’t we count the years of mature talent anymore?”      –Kirby Condgon


“We gather at the shoreline to measure time in the eternal movement of water:  rain to river to lake or sea, back to sky.  Water is the metaphor for all human activity.  And through it, traces every lifetime inexorably, for better or worse.  In our ending, the beach is washed clean of our existence.”

–Phil Wagner, Iconoclast


“THIS is your perfect summer companion.  Titles include “In Tree Light,” “Seaglass,” “In The Wake,” and “Dream Of Flight.”  I recommend this for its images, similes, metaphors, and its brilliant lines (“A woman in an apple dress / makes everything briefly red, / then passes by like an old wound”) the production is as lovely as the words within—letterpress, handsewn and bound.”

–Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, the Aurorean



“Eric Greinke’s latest collection of poetry Invisible Wings is a short and infinitely relatable assortment of verses that provide intimate slices of everyday life, focusing on everything from changing seasons to class reunions and family photos.  Greinke’s style is thoughtful and down-to-earth, which allows first-time readers to grasp and enjoy his creations, while simultaneously giving long-time fans more of the evocative verses for which the author is known.  Greinke’s work in Invisible Wings is exceptional—simple in structure and language and able to move and still inspire readers at the same time.  He encourages his readers to closely examine all that is around them, within them, and beyond them, and he recognizes the power of small movements to shape and color every life.”                                                                                                           –Kimberly Allen, Valley Voices

“In his newest poetry collection Invisible Wings, Eric Greinke explores the trials and tribulations of life and the consequences those experiences leave on himself and of those around him.  Many of these forty-four new poems are filled with the reflections of an older self looking back on past actions.  The poems found in this new collection can be broken down into three separate categories:  character driven, self-reflexive, and nature poems.  The first focuses primarily on the events and lives of those individuals that the narrator encounters.  The self-reflexive ones provide commentary on the narrator’s own life, and finally, the nature poems praise the beauty and serenity of nature.  Where the collection truly shines is in the moments when Greinke utilizes violence to create a memorable image in the mind.  In “Bullies,” Greinke uses violence to signal to the contradictory nature of defending oneself from others.  After years of ridicule and abuse by the neighborhood bully, the narrator reacts in an overly-violent manner, leaving the reader dumbfounded, yet this violence lends itself nicely to the overall message within the poem, that when acting out in self-defense, we become no different than the one harming us.  The opening line of the titular poem “Wings” effectively captures the tone and feel of this collection: “The ocean cannot be contained / but it can be heard inside a small shell.”  Greinke condenses years of life into an easily digestible bite.  Life is untamable, but through Invisible Wings, Greinke captures just enough for our stories to be heard.”          –Jorgan Bean, Pinyon

“Reading Invisible Wings is a bit like taking a vacation where the natural surroundings of a north Michigan lake become acutely, visually, and lyrically alive.  Meditative moments, from sitting fireside to walking alongside a summer beach, contrast with fabulous story-telling—where the author relies moments from his life as well as compelling narratives about strangers and friend.  In the unflinching pursuit of the beautiful and the tender, Greinke finds his home.”       –Ann Cefola, Goodreads

“Eric Greinke is a poet with a moderate pallet and a subtle intelligence.  His poems notice things, ordinary things, and pursue them; he is curious but he treads lightly and could easily be disregarded because of his plain-spoken disguise.  He is worth slowing down for.  In his latest collection of 44 short poems, Invisible Wings, every sound and cadence rings true, if the reader listens carefully.  The first poem in the collection is “Wings,” where Greinke flirts with the cosmos whose stars were named after “ancient Gods” and whose direction spreads like an (imagined) expanding universe.  Its energy is not showy or boastful, and Greinke delivers in a style of language that one could call, without error, plain.  Yet, much of the ordinariness in the footsteps of the lines causes a likely embarrassment for one who suddenly realizes that the poem she’s reading has got quite out of hand.  To recognize the power of the Greinke’s language, his eschewing of sensation, his insistence on exactitude, is to grope about, “blind in every dimension / but our poor human senses.”  But arise!  We must scramble to keep up with the fusions, dimensions, disasters, collisions, with each “atom alone but connected.”  Really, you have to run to keep up with what’s going down.  One knows that the speaker must go down to the pillow, that the leaves “lately adrift” are gathered meaningfully in one place now, a place for love and rest and thinking.  Greinke is a listener.”                           -Marcia Ross, Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene


“If you’ve never been to a high school reunion, in his poem of that name, Mr. Greinke gives the lowdown on what is typically revealed. Near the center of the book, this poem indicates one of the primary themes:  the memory-based stories we tell about people are often remarkably similar, showing the commonality of “human nature,” connecting us.  Interspersed with the brief character studies are poems of humans in nature.  With his poet’s palette, we are reminded of the simple, joyful pleasure nature can provide or inspire.  Nature brings out some of his best description (Branches on the side of the brook / Shake in the downpour, like a laughing man.).               –Phil Wagner, Iconoclast


“With more than 20 books of poetry, fiction and criticism, Eric Greinke is a long-time fixture on the literary scene.  His poems in Invisible Wings demonstrate a gift with final lines that jolt the reader like unexpected bullets.  “No blood on our hands yet, just mercy and hope” (Another Old Photo).  He also startles with incredibly apt observations:  in Breakfast For Paranoids, the pitbulls in a truck “waiting hard for their breakfast.”  In Cruel Aprila maternal white pine.”  In Fly Fishing in the Rainbranches. . .shake in the downpour like a laughing man.”  Each of the 44 poems in this new collection offers an image or insight that goes deep beneath the surface where the genuine fires burn at the core.  This is a book to read in one sitting and then to return to again and again.”      –Joan Colby, Goodreads



“In these poems, Eric Greinke explores the darker side of human nature which can erupt spontaneously in inexplicable moments such as road rage (On the Road). Such furies are frequently expressed with a gun which “forces us to see ourselves/on one end of it or the other” (No Cover). In Intensities in Ten Cities the understories reveal Atlanta strip clubs where the naked dancers answer “Why Atlanta?” with “Most modern city in the south.”. Wintertime in Minneapolis shows that “climate/defines each human environment.” In Detroit “At the Greyhound Bus terminal/many of the riders look terminal.” In Chicago “riot police rioted” and in Gettysburg they are “still fighting the Civil War/All the restaurants are blue and grey” while” Monuments to conflict occupy the streets/like an army of solidified ghosts.”
These poems steer heartbreaking metaphors down the streets of memory. You won’t forget “Gene 75 and blind” with half a leg gone to diabetes “happy just to have someone to talk to” (Hunger Everywhere) The poems don’t shrink from hard truths of what plagues us. The final poem From Mirror To You says “Your sad hands ramble over/the badlands of your face” ending with” Below the cliffs of your brow/finding a fresh current to freedom”. Greinke’s poems denote the complexities we face trying to make sense of the world and our own mysterious nature”     –Joan Colby, Goodreads


Achieving lyricism in free verse narrative poems is like walking a tightrope. The poet can fall into lines full of beautiful language and music and lose the story, leaving the reader wondering what that poem was all about. Or the poet can focus so heavily on the narrative that the reader wonders why the poem wasn’t written as a short story or bit of creative nonfiction. Eric Greinke, in his new collection called Break Out, walks that tightrope with confidence, making poems that engage as strongly as any well written short story while retaining rhythm, music, and surprising language.

In this volume of forty-one poems, most pieces are solidly narrative with a clear plotline, occasional dialogue, detail that brings a vivid picture of time and place, and an ending that usually surprises and sometimes shocks the reader. But Mr. Greinke never forgets the elements that create poetry. Read aloud and listen to the rhythms in the opening lines of “A Human Chain”:

A farmer from Georgia & his wife

were on the beach at Panama City

celebrating their anniversary,

when they saw a group gathering

on the sand beside the pier,

The insistent rhythm is sustained through the entire poem, pushing the narrative of a life-saving event. When we reach the final lines, after a happy resolution, we read
Like ants, they had touched

that place deep inside

where survival begins & ends.

This unexpected conclusion is more than an odd comparison. It might also be a philosophical question, a thought that may cause the reader to stop, think, then go back to reconsider the whole well-crafted poem.
 Some of the poems in this collection are about issues we see in the news; homeless people, domestic violence, child abuse, racism, and more. But the poems are always driven by individual human stories, never pronouncements, or sloganeering. Each story is honest, with the poet’s real reaction delivered in a way that shows his close attention and emotional involvement.
 But not all the poems in the collection are issue-based. There is a touching love poem called “Love Match” which is full of wild connections listed in a litany of lines that end with these four;
 My wife with her wildflower eyes

My wife with wet eyes for prisoners

My wife with wooden eyes ready to chop

& eyes of calm water, raked earth, fire and wind

And there are poems that are not easily categorized. Intensities “In Ten Cities” is a ten part work, each part made up of ten lines. The author revisits specific memories of each place, weaving a few details that create a broad, powerful impression. While the impression of each city may seem familiar, the poet never slips into any typical travel writing clichés.

Mr. Greinke’s poems are always interesting and original. They are also bolstered by scrupulous attention to craft. And this poet has the ability to keep a reader fully engaged through an eclectic, wide-ranging collection that is, for me, one I will return to again and again. This is a book worthy of space on your shelves.”          –James Bourey, Broadkill Review