Saturday, August 29, 2009
Raising a Stink
Most of the poets I know are academics, and sometimes I forget that poetry can come from anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Mark Durfee, AKA The Walking Man, is not an academic, and his poetry is rooted in concrete, abandoned houses, vacant lots, and people who live close to the bone.
Mark is a born and raised Detroiter who left for a stint in the military and then spent four years tramping the roads of North America before returning home to work and raise a family. Now retired, he writes, and his discipline and productivity is amazing.
Stink: Poetry and Prose of Detroit is Mark’s second poetry collection. I can’t imagine it will be his last. This collection is full of power, passion, rage, and, yes, love. The phrase “pulls no punches” is overworked but it certainly applies to these poems and short prose pieces. The piece entitled “Got Obscenity?” is a perfect example. Which is worse, the piece asks, a few curse words or the suffering of the children and the poor? I know which side I come down on.
Detroit is not unique among American cites in its suffering, but it is iconic, and Mark shows us all the agonies of the city in solid, filling language. His words also show, though, that there is and can be hope, and that it comes not from the government or the city elite, but from the people in the neighborhoods when they start to care.
At present, you can only get a copy of Stink through Mark’s blog site. Check it out here. I recommend it.