And Then I Disappeared Again by Erik Stinson, Menthol University Press (2011). http://mentholuniversitypress.blogspot.com/, 96 pages, paperback, $12.00
Menthol University Press released poet Erik Stinson’s latest poetry collection, And Then I Disappeared Again, on March 1. Written in 2010, Stinson’s fourth book is a progression on his earlier work. It is also marks a distinctly more personal feel than his last release, Futurism. Written shortly after Stinson moved to New York from Oakland, the poems in this collection were originally composed on Tumblr and showcase his search for a sense of personal identification. Mainly broaching subjects such as relationships, or lack thereof, and work, Stinson has created a compelling narrative arc that is noticeable once one realizes that the poems are ordered, according to Stinson, in chronological order, earliest first.
Some of his best and most accessible poems are the ones in which he discusses and explores the idea of what it means to live in New York City. With honesty and increasingly addictive wit, Stinson paints a portrait of a city detached from its surroundings, a place where people come to make something of themselves but end up getting engulfed in its monolithic impersonal ways. Take the poem “nyc post-tv” for example. In it he describes how the idea of New York was attractive and appealing because of the seemingly endless possibilities but, by the end of the poem, he concludes that “nothing is happening anywhere now.” Possibly my favorite line from the collection is the one that ends the piece.
where times square
shines like confusion
and affordable sex.
It should be noted that Stinson is pursuing his studies in ad portfolio school. This is important because it explains his keen eye for detail as well as his canny knack for making the ordinary seem interesting in a fresh, new way. Interspersed throughout the collection are single line sayings, in much bigger font, that read more like catchy billboard ads than poems. These only seem to highlight Stinson’s feeling of ambivalence towards city life and relationships while also showcasing his ability to make thoughtful observations using only a few words. These are bolts of energy, sentences of joy and sarcasm, and are a nice respite between the deeper poems around them.
Overall I really enjoyed this collection because I felt that I could relate to some of the emotions being discussed. Stinson has allowed readers an insight into his own life without bearing too much. Instead of coming off as over self-indulgent, this collection reads as a mature piece that knows just which emotional buttons to push. I’m left wanting more. That’s all you can ask of a writer, I suppose.—Patrick Trotti
Check Stinson out on Tumblr here: http://erikstinson.tumblr.com/ and, if you’re so inclined, more of his personal projects and those of his friends can be found here: http://mentholuniversitypress.blogspot.com/.