When it started in April 1985 I was starting a job at Crowley’s Department store in Detroit’s New Center area. I’d bus there from the east side and hang out in the area after work. I was in my early 30’s.
By 1992, I’d moved down to “my favorite neighborhood” in the cultural center / Wayne State University area. I could walk to work. Since then, I’ve lived a lot of life. I got serious about making visual art and about performing. I play and sing with two musical groups. I also do puppet shows where I go for the humor, both wacky and absurd. I’ve shown my art in France and got to spend a week in Paris. I visit New York nearly every year. I’ve helped run an art gallery and performance space, the Zeitgeist. Since 2001 I’ve been working at the library at the University of Detroit Mercy. Often I just get insanely busy. I feel like I’m working two full-time jobs. Yet I still find time to catch my breath and to stop and smell the flowers.
It started like this:
In the 1970’s, I’d been typing up my poetry on a manual typewriter and printing it up onto double-sided sheets. I’d pass them out to friends and to strangers. I started The Poetic Express to force myself to write poetry every month. Also it was a forum for my drawing and for my comic strip Surreal Theatre. I think that my drawing and my writing improved year to year.
I was trying to declare my independence from the world of “normal poetry” which seemed too insular and rarefied to me. I’ve only been published in a few poetry magazines and anthologies. In most of those, I didn’t submit my work, but was invited to participate.
I’ve always felt myself to be an outsider in my way. I come from a place that’s beneath the underground. I feel part of a tradition of experimental art which goes way back. I have a special affinity for Surrealism. I’ve gone through hard times and suffered. There’s been nothing too extreme, just the sort of things that most people go through. It’s all helped to mold my character and to strengthen my resolve.
The Poetic Express has been a public face and a laboratory for experimentation, work and play.
Much of the context is tied to my life in the city of Detroit. The act of passing out copies to friends and strangers in public was usually a performance. I’ve spent countless hours writing letters, weighing them, including inserts and goodies along with them, drawing on the envelopes, etc. It’s fun, yet it’s very labor-intensive and very time-consuming. The boom in zines and self-publishing was encouraging, yet by the time that really took off, I’d already been at it for awhile. All these things are something that was like the Internet before the Internet really arrived. One attempts to network and to communicate as best as one can.
As part of the online version of The Poetic Express, I’ve written a special introduction for each volume. I include links to websites which reference the people I’ve dedicated poems to, my heroes and heroines. These intros also relate each volume and each year to how I’m living my life. I also share my personal favorites among the poetry and Surreal Theatre comic strips.
It has an “underground cult following.” People have stopped to comment and respond. My ten-year anniversary exhibition was reviewed in a Detroit newspaper. I have letters which respond to and comment upon specific poems. People have The Poetic Express posted on their refrigerators. Once someone told me that the work had helped them get through a bad period in their life. Such things mean more to me than “riches and fame” would.
Anyway, thanks to all who’ve enjoyed and supported The Poetic Express for all these years.
Here’s how I’m going to celebrate the anniversary:
1. I’m installing an exhibition called The Poetic Express in Context: 1985 to 2015 here at the library of the McNichols campus of the at the University of Detroit Mercy. It will be on display by May 26th and will run through June. I might extend it into July.
The library’s in the middle of campus, near the fountain:
2. I’m going to do one or two special “bonus issues” of The Poetic Express.
3. Probably sometime next month, in May 2015, the 2014 run of The Poetic Express will appear online at the University of Detroit Mercy site.
4. I’m going to start a long-term postal art campaign. I want to number the mailings consecutively from one to one thousand. We’ll see whether I actually make it to 1000 or not. I’ll use this to distribute my huge supply of back issues. Plus I can use up some of my massive supply of free return address labels.
If you want to get a mailing, write to me at my email, email@example.com. Or find me on Facebook and message me there.
If you mail me an SASE, you’ll get more stuff and get it more quickly. That’s a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. Try not to use the smallest envelopes. Get a larger or medium-sized one and fold it up. It’s 49 cents (or a forever stamp) for one ounce. If you’d like more, it’s 22 cents extra for two ounces and 44 cents extra for 3 ounces.
This is link to my Maurice Greenia, Jr. Collections site, scroll down and click onto The Poetic Express:
The Poetic Express at 25:
The Poetic Express from November 2006, on drawing:
A notice. This includes more of my take on The Poetic Express :