Review by Kyle Flak
The exciting thing about small press poetry is that anything is possible. There are no strict rules. The artist is completely free to do as he or she likes without worrying about what the big mainstream institutions will think.
Tim Staley has for years been the editor of Grandma Moses Press in Las Cruces, New Mexico. For five dollars, a customer can receive by mail a tiny delightful chapbook of unique and wild poetry accompanied by weird and wonderful drawings by the editor. The chapbooks, of course, never hit the New York Times bestseller list or get the attention of major superstars, but they always contain good honest poetry–poetry written by people who honestly love poetry for its own sake.
Now Tim Staley has his own full length collection of poems out from an equally exciting small press publisher, Pski’s Porch. As someone who loves all aspects of books, I will say that Lost on My Own Street by Tim Staley is a beautiful book in every way.
First of all, the cover art was done by the author himself and it is a whimsical sea blue dream of a cover, clearly illustrating the true joy of being a small press poet. The image is of a jolly dandy of a man strolling down the street with a marvelous cloud of daydreams floating above his head.
Of course this book reminds me of the first edition of Leaves of Grass, a volume of poems that Walt Whitman self published and aggressively self promoted all because he believed in the dream, the dream of saying what he really needed to say, the dream of sharing his most important messages to the world. It seems that no matter what anyone personally thinks of Walt Whitman, he will always be The Original Small Press Poet.
Staley’s poems are sincere, funny, friendly, unique, and diverse. He does not stick to a single formula, scheme, or gimmick. He writes what he wants to write. He has no ulterior motives. He is not thinking about what the authorities will say about him. He is someone I am happy to place on my list of New Walt Whitmans to Definitely Pay Attention to Who Boldly Go Wherever They Want to Go.
In a poem called “The Waiting Game” Staley writes, “Vikings never ask are we there yet, / they just scan the horizon, armored hips against the railing.” I think that sums up his poetry and the joy of being a small press poet pretty well. In the world of small press poetry, one writes purely for the joy of writing without asking for approval or money or fame. One writes for the thrill of it, the exploration of it, the pure adventure of it.
It is in this spirit that I highly recommend Lost on My Own Street by Tim Staley. It reminds us all of what’s truly important–that original “carpe diem” thrill of just reading and writing poems for the fun of it.
Kyle Flak’s debut poetry collection I’M SORRY FOR EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE UNIVERSE is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press.