Riding in Boxcars, Glenn K. Currie’s second collection of poetry since 2004’s Daydreams, offers an array of fascinating work spanning styles, jumping genres and bridging the gap between art and the artist.
Comfortably warm, Currie’s work provides poetry that doesn’t smack of The Pretentious, but instead wraps the reader in beautiful imagery and charisma like a thick blanket crocheted by your grandmother. Rural and colloquial, shy and captivating, Currie’s poetry drags readers by the seat of their pants back to their childhood, through the town they grew up in, and back to nature and the basics.
The best part about Currie’s work is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously; that’s an incredible feat considering his degrees from Dartmouth, Georgetown and Oxford under his belt. The impression his poetry gives is not as intensive as examining the masterwork of scholarly writers, but reads more like an English major’s college portfolio: a mish-mosh of different manners and methods.
As mentioned before, a portion of Currie’s work has a reflective and reminiscent element, as redolent as looking at a high school yearbook. A few poems (i.e. "Navy Swim Call — 1966" and "DaNang 1968") touch on Currie’s four-year stint in the Navy during the Vietnam War. There’s nothing incredibly morbid about these poems, just interesting thought and tranquil questioning.
Balance is one of Currie’s strongest suits; though a predominant amount of poetry in this collection is charming and quaint, the reader will then become subject to poems like "Slammer Grammar," a humorous poke at rappers and what rap music takes away from the English language. And hey, you’ll even come across a haiku or two.
Riding in Boxcars would not be as much of a gem if it had not been for Currie’s stunning photography which accompanies each poem. His photography is familiar and real, as if they were pulled out of an old family photo album–old women on benches, a child with a balloon, all accompanied by an insightful caption. The combination of poetry and pictures allows the reader to live a second life, lending a breath to the deflated past and seeing, in panoramic view, the grace of an unchartered yesteryear.
Currie’s work will never last in the annals of great American literature. It will never be trifled with or over-scrutinized. Millions of readers will never hang on his every word. And personally, contemporary literature needs to start seeing more men like Glenn K. Currie. His taming of the English language transcends the realm of the literal; his poetry is a piping-hot mug of tea and your favorite armchair, his casual approach to verse is the smell of wood grain in a log cabin, and his conceptual grasp of what it truly means to write is as satisfying as sitting on your father’s lap when you were a kid.