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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book Recommendation: DOWN THIS CROOKED ROAD: Modern Poetry From the Road Less Traveled (Edited by RD Armstrong & William Taylor Jr) Lummox Press, San Pedro, 2009 (153 pages)


I recently came across this old book  & found it interesting and entertaining to read and discovered some new poets working from the streets. In his Introduction writer and editor William Taylor Jr. says he was approached by Lummox guru RD Armstrong and was invited to solicit work from a handful of his favourite poets with the possibility of creating a book. It didn’t take Taylor long to draw up a list of writers and he says that they are not from any particular region or school of poetry:

“What connects these writers in my mind is obviously not location, or even style of writing, but more a spirit that I feel shines through in the work of all involved. All the poetry contained here is accessible without being mundane, well crafted without being academic…Poetry for people who might not realise they like poetry.

“It is my belief that your average reader can pick up this volume, open it to any page, read a bit, and think: This makes sense to me. This is a fellow human sharing their vision of what it is to exist, and it inspires me. Or, it could well be they’ll think something more along the lines of: This is some cool ass shit! That works too.”

The title poem ‘Down This Crooked Road’ is taken from Christopher Cunningham’s poem of the same name. It speaks of the uncertainty and daring of striking out on the road. The poem concludes:

are almost ill-prepared
is madness
and daring
in our eyes
we cut ties

stare back
the abyss,


The collection includes seven poets:

M.K. Chavez
Christopher Cunningham
Miles J. Bell
William Taylor Jr.
Christopher Robin
Father Luke
Hosho McCreesh

In this short summary of the book I will provide a brief overview of each poet’s work and will provide some links to their latest work, if available.


Chavez is the only female poet in the collection. As it says in her bio, she “writes about the beauty that can be found in ugliness.” ‘Ode to Methamphetamine’ is her strongest poem but ‘Mission Street Love Story’ and ‘Everything that I needed to Know about Writing I Learned from Being a Stripper’ are also highly impressive.

Her latest book Mothermorphosis (Nomadic Press, 2016) can be purchased here:


Cunningham is a highly observational poet who compresses everyday experiences to often make metaphorical comments on life. The title poem ‘down this crooked road’, ‘GO’ and ‘bending, but not the other’ are some good examples. His writing is pared down, exceedingly clear and excellently conceived.

Find an old post on NYQ Poets:

Blog: Upright Against the Savage Heavens 2006-2012:


Bell is an English writer and is probably best known for his 11 page poem ‘Icarus Rex’ which appears in this collection.

Some of the other poems represent threshold experiences which prompt the speaker to make a realisation, such as, the need to move beyond the expected & to surprise yourself, that feelings like pain and love are fleeting and “will eventually fade to shadow” and the like.

Find some of Bell’s work online:


Taylor who lives in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, is the best known poet in the collection. In these poems he wanders through the local bars and cafes in the search of  sad woman and material for his writing. My favourites include ‘Slow’, ‘The Strangest’, and in particular, ‘It is Enough’. The poems are highly observational and chronicle the passing of time, in which Taylor shapes his experience to make some subtle but profound metaphysical statements about life.

His latest book To Break the Heart of the Sun (Words Dance Publishing, 2016) can be bought here:

Follow William Taylor Jr.’s latest  writing on Facebook:


Robin brings to us the world of food stamps, of women with kids with foetal alcohol syndrome, of bathrooms which haven’t been cleaned for six years. He describes in blunt detail those who live at the bottom of the food chain. His best poems include the brilliant ‘Freaky Mumbler’s Manifesto’, ‘Infinite Joy In Spite Of’ and ‘Slingshot’.

Robin is a labourer from Santa Cruz, California. He has published  three chapbooks and is editor of Zen Baby zine, a self described “pseudo-literary train-wreck in print form since 2000.”


Father Luke Miljevich from his 2009 bio describes himself as a person who “waits with a woman he loves for a perfect world.” He writes about the pain and loneliness of living on the fourth floor of an old hotel in an up-beat, often humorous way.  His best poem is ‘With A Seagull For Company’ about the death of  Little Bob, his aquarium crab.

Find Father Luke on Facebook here:


In this collection McCreesh writes grand philosophical poems about the inevitability of death, the lack of purpose, our loss of innocence, the snuffing out of the light & the approaching darkness. He likes using long-winded titles which emerge into the poem, such as, ‘You Never Want To Say That/ We Owe It To Ourselves/ To Be Happy As We Can Possibly Be/ For All The Many & Nefarious Ways It’ll Be/ Taken Out of Context, Be Co-Opted/ By The Greedy., The Self-Important, The Gluttonous, & Idiotic & Insatiable…’ and ‘As Madness Abounds, As Brutality Trumpets & A Cold, Hard World Gets Colder, Harder, & The Death Of All That Might Save Us Increases…’

Hosho McCreesh hails from the American Southwest and more information about his writing can be found at his official page for his books of poetry:

For more information about purchasing Down This Crooked Road contact Lummox Press:

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