JoeyPinkney.com Book Review
The Mind of a Poetic Unsub
4 out of 5 stars
Sometimes straight forward, other times cryptic, GPA’s style is definitely his own. And that’s a good thing.
I have read all of GPA’s poetry collections to date. Reading “The Mind of a Poetic Unsub” is like visiting a friend who has moved into a new house in a new neighborhood. I look around and recognize some of his stuff – like his use of word order and phrasing. I also notice new things. Better stated, I see things that are new to me – like subject matter and poetic styles.
For GPA, poetry is his homie, his lover, his friend, his muse, his wife. Just when I thought he was being salacious in the poem “Confessions of an unsub”, the poet was really being conscientious of his personal reality.
“What reality?” you may ask. The answer is in your face. What does GPA stand for? Greatest Poet Alive. Quite presumptious, right? Maybe. And what’s this “poetic unsub” business?
At this point, after reading his previous works and interviewing him and watching him grow over the years, I think I understand him better now. Marc Livingston might own the copyrights to “The Mind of a Poetic Unsub”, but I think he’s the alter ego of GPA – not the other way around.
Being the greatest poet alive is the goal that this poet strives for, and the initials GPA is a constant reminder of why he is on this path. Being a “poetic unsub” is this poet’s public realization that energy and audacity places him squarely outside widespread acceptance.
From: “My side (of the story)”
I had to write this.
I am nowhere near perfect
Neither is anyone else
But when you step into the spotlight,
you must accept the darkness that comes with
my name is G.P.A.
My name is Marc Livingston
I am the poetic unsub
and this is my poem
As lyrical as a bluesman, as braggadocious as a hip hop artist, as smooth as a sad song on the radio, GPA’s poetry sometimes veers off preconceived notions of flowery showmanship into this open window that peers into the uglier aspects to his life. In “Everyone hates GPA”, he drops the gauntlet and openly challenges a person who would clearly know who he is if he read this poem. I can only assume some of the poems cleanse his soul of years worth of heartaches, frustration and pain. Just like Rabbit in the movie 8 Mile, GPA gains strength after he lays out every thing the people in his world can hold against him. He transforms negative power into positive energy.
At times, I forget that this is a poetry book. “The Mind of a Poetic Unsub” is more of an essay of thoughts infused with rhythms and rhymes. GPA easily slips in and out of characters. One moment he’s writing through the eyes of a woman being abused by her significant other. The next moment, he is a man experiencing the embarrassment of domestic violence.
If you know him and have an inkling of his “personal infamy”, then you might get an overdose of his views of his transgressions. I salute GPA for his transparency. Good, bad or otherwise, his poems took courage or apathy. I’m sure it’s the former.
I’ve said this in a review of GPA’s previous work, and my gripe continues with this collection of poetry: when he leaves words out and switch word order, it makes his poems harder to read. For a new reader, this might make them either totally miss the point or give up trying in exasperation. Simply put, GPA has his own language. I used to think that he was trying too hard to be “poetic”. Now, I think he prints on paper the words he sees in his mind.
“The Mind of a Poetic Unsub” is a continuation of the art form GPA has honed for many countless hours, days, months and years. This collection can stand alone, but I feel it’s best read in the context of his previous collections. His use of language is a bit cryptic, but his emotional verve is sincere and unyielding. I look forward to seeing what’s next for this man who has dedicated his life to poetry – for better or for worse.