Before we get to Plan B's final installment today, I want to thank Steve May for coming on the DA and sharing some of his press' catalog. I said it before and will say it again: the work of the small press, especially one like Plan B, is essential. Without the efforts of the careful small press many voices would not get heard.
As a reminder the contest to win a free signed copy of Finding The Words by Dan Maguire is still going on. See here for details. The contest ends with the month.
Now to Plan B...
Steve May on Ryan Eckes
When I Come Here is Ryan Eckes’ second chapbook. His first was a smaller booklet with drawings by his brother, Brandon. “Great Short Stories of the World” was likely meant to get Ryan’s literary feet wet. It did.
I first met Eckes at an open reading in Philadelphia. He had just had a piece appear in Adbusters. What I heard that night was an “old soul”, a writer beyond his years. Perhaps it was his delivery or his voice. It certainly was his work though that stood out.
It took until 2007 for him to relent and send a manuscript for possible publication. He had entered the Creative Writing program at Temple University, and we had moved to Virginia for my own advance degree. We had taken over daily operations of Plan B and I was anxious to bring out something by Ryan Eckes.
His work has always felt lifted from the Daily News. Philadelphia’s athletes, politicians, … hell, even Pat Croce appears in his poetry. In his understated way, Eckes subtly delves into his subjects. His delivery works its magic as well, as in
you know a vacuum
cleaner is something like
a black hole and a black hole
is something like sleep
the inside of which turns
all the dust into a truth
When it was cold
the schoolyard was colder
The world flat
The concrete sky
The language here is anything but simple. Using Robert Creeley as a model, Eckes brings the ordinary to view with laymen’s words. No pretensions. No fluff. The poems are clean, often anticlimactic, without overwrought drama or situations.
A hint, perhaps, of Brautigan as well. If Brautigan ever lived in Philly.
The chapbook alternates between prose poems and more traditional pieces to great effect. There’s an interesting visual aspect to it as well.
When not teaching at Temple these days, Ryan Eckes hosts a poetry series at Chapterhouse in Philadelphia as well as appearing around the city, and elsewhere. Look for him. Check him out. You won’t be sorry. ($7.00 - planbpress.com)