Annually, Gerald So, the fiction editor at Thrilling Detective, heads up a volume of crime-related poetry called The Lineup. As National Poetry Month draws to a close today, I thought I’d take a look at the latest issue.
The Lineup #3 begins strong with co-editor Sarah Cortez’s tale of a ride-along gone wrong. An officer is shot, and his civilian rider is unable to call for help. James W. Hall ponders the women found murdered from time to time, never where they were taken from. And Carrie McGrath wonders if the crimes of men cat-calling her might cause her to commit a crime herself.
It’s Amy McLennan who provides the strongest pair of poems. In “Prowling,” she gets into the head of a burglar who never leaves any sign of his presence, despite not wearing gloves. In “A Life of Vice,” a woman has no regrets over her life of using lovers and drugs, even if she’s reached the end of her rope in a bus station john.
The Lineup is largely blank verse and free verse, which works best for this type of subject matter. It’s poetry that has a spoken feel to it, almost as if it’s reaching toward the poetic prose of some of its writers. This is especially evident with veteran poet and author Reed Farrel Coleman’s effort, “Victim’s Kiss.” Like many of the poets in this volume, their verse reads very much like their prose. It’s a dark eye-opener.