Saturday, March 8, 2008

I Need an Alibi

I’m not a poet. Despite publishing a handful of poems in small journals, despite long hours spent in workshops and endless revision, I am not comfortable calling myself a poet. I studied under Baron Wormser and Wesley McNair. I used to work for April Ossmann. They are poets. I couldn’t write a decent pantoum or villanelle if you put a gun to my head—and don’t even fucking think about that, buddy. What I am is a writer of crime fiction who happens to have a poetry fetish. I can live with that.

My poetic taste is a weird mix of the pastoral and the dark: Georg Trakl, Charles Bukowski, Anne Sexton, Kevin Young, B.H. Fairchild, James Wright, Kevin Goodan, Mary Oliver, Dawn Potter, Michael Macklin, Simic, Carruth, Plath, Levertov, Pound’s translations of Li Po, Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz” and Robinson’s “Richard Cory,” Cruz’s “Problems with Hurricanes” and Enslin’s “The Town that Ends the Road.” There are stories that cannot be told in prose, images best distilled in verse. Why? I don’t know. That’s just the way it is. Go with it.

So. Crime poetry. I never gave it much thought until sometime in 2006, when Anthony Rainone told me he was working on an article about crime authors who are inspired by and write poetry[1]. There I was: a nobody whose first real crime story would not even see print until several months later, interviewed for an article that included guys like Reed Farrel Coleman, Kevin Young and the man himself, Ken Bruen. It was like sneaking into a Rolling Stones show and getting invited up onstage to jam with Mick and the boys.

Gerald So appeared in that article, too. When he started thinking about what would become The Lineup, he asked if I’d like to help out. I said I was busy, but would get back to him in a week or two. No I didn’t. I said yes right away. It sounded too cool to pass up. Anthony was involved, and Richie Narvaez, whose name was new to me at the time—I’ll tell you right now: Richie’s poetry and fiction kick all kinds of ass. Gerald, Richie and Anthony have done the bulk of the work; I’m sort of like Wally in the “Dilbert” comic strip.

We received hard-hitting poems from some amazing writers: Sarah Cortez, Robert Plath, Stephen D. Rogers, Misti Rainwater-Lites, KC Trommer and Ken Bruen, among others. Some of our poets have already introduced themselves here. I hope the others will do the same.

It won’t be long now until we cut loose The Lineup, so watch your back. Some of these guys would turn you out for a pack of Luckies and half a jug of pruno.


Patrick Shawn Bagley lives on a dirt road in a one-stoplight central Maine town. He has BFA and MFA degrees in Creative Writing. Patrick’s fiction has appeared in CrimeSpree Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, The Iconoclast and others. He has had poems published in Animus, Off the Coast, Wolf Moon Press Journal and the anthology Reflections on Maine. A novel, Bitter Water Blues, is in the works.

[1] “Raven in a Trenchcoat: Hardboiled & Noir Poetry” by Anthony Rainone (Mystery Scene Magazine #99, 2007)

1 comment:

R. Narvaez said...

Bagley! You're gonna make me blush. Thanks, man.