CRUMBLING UTOPIAN PIPEDREAM: A REVIEW
9th March 2019
No book I've read fucks around less than Crumbling Utopian Pipedream by Scott Wozniak. You want a blurb, there's your blurb.
These poems are hollow point bullets. They are meant to cause maximum damage in a compact shell. By the end of these 55 pages, you'll have gone through hell. If you're an addict, especially one in recovery, you'll be familiar with this particular corner of it. As a society, we have a tendency to glamorize junkies. Well, the young and skinny ones who lead exciting lives in the big city, anyway. No one particularly romanticizes the Oxy addicts in your small to mid-sized town, though. That's too real, too common.
Wozniak's poetry is a few things at once. It's a bitter eulogy for the dozens of people he (or his narrator) lost to diseases of sorrow. The ghosts of pill heads, heroin addicts, and alcoholics haunt these pages. It's also an acknowledgment that the person who has lived these poems somehow got lucky enough to not be included in that body count. I hesitate to call it a celebration. There are traces of guilt about still being alive, though the struggle to survive was certainly hard fought.
What, then, do you do with this new lease on life? Post-jail, post-rehab, what's an ex-addict to do with this new sobriety and second chance to make things right? You want to watch the world burn, naturally. Yes, in a desire for chaos (the only thing that makes sense), but also to burn the world clean like a wound. No one falls into the cycle of drugs, incarceration, and death because they're thrilled with the state of things. Wozniak has a vision and it's one of blood and flames.
There is also a hard-nosed defiance to some of these poems. They acknowledge the journey has been imperfect, but there's a real effort to take the rage, the sadness, and the disappointment, and do something positive with it. Like write a book of tough as nails poetry.
Stylistically, this is minimalism taken about as far as it can go without turning into the performance art gimmickry of Aram Saroyan. Every single word counts. Not a letter on the page is extra. The MO of each poem is get in and get out. It fits the theme of the pieces perfectly. Flowery language would have killed this project. Music would have killed it, too. There isn't any music here. There are the words and the venom behind them. That's enough.
At first glance, you'd be excused for thinking this is another Bukowski trip. Excused, but wrong. Bukowski never went here. He was never this raw. Behind all the hubris, there was a sensitivity, despite the vulgarity. It felt like a put on, sometimes. Wozniak doesn't come across here as playing a part. This is the real shit. Take it or leave it. I'm telling you to take it.
You can buy Crumbling Utopian Pipedream from Moran Press
PURCHASE CRUMBLING UTOPIAN PIPEDREAM