This review was originally published on Fourth & Sycamore.
A few years ago Tyler Knott Gregson wandered into an antique store near his home in Helena, Montana, and discovered a beat up old Remington typewriter for sale. He loaded it with a parted leaf from an antique book he’d just bought, and typed a short poem. The Typewriter Series was born. Tyler types a poem a day on his vintage Remington and publishes them on his site. The best of these poems have now been compiled into an attractive new hardcover from Penguin called Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series (811 Gregson).
I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about this book since shortly after I started it. While reading it I regularly ranted and guffawed to my partner, but just as often found myself touched by Gregson’s earnest sentiments (and they are, to be sure, sentimental). I think I would like Tyler in real life, and I recognize so many of the longings and hurts he expresses in these poems from things I have and do feel in my own life. The problem is I’m not really sure they work as published poetry. These poems read as thoughtful notes you leave a spouse or lover on the mirror before you go to work, deep truths and promises between two people that don’t have to be especially well-written. To be perfectly honest, these poems generally aren’t.
Most of them read like they come from trendy and twee greeting cards from some indie brand sold on Etsy:
the only way
Or like imitations of Kurt Halsey from a talented but very young fan:
Find my hand
in the darkness
and if we
That’s a great sentiment, one that would mean something if you slipped it into your significant other’s coat pocket for them to find later. It’s not a great poem.
Which leaves me trying to figure out what to do with a book like this. The thoughts are not profound, and the word-to-word writing is not stunning. The heart of it is touching and true however, and reflects a raw, broken earnestness not usually found from certain more “serious” poets. Tyler sells all of his poems as prints available from his site, and this is perhaps the best outlet for them; I could see these framed and hanging in the hallway of a cool apartment, or given as gifts between dear, long-distance friends. I don’t think they work nearly so well between the covers of a book.
Check out Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series and let me know what you think. I’m very interested to hear other perspectives on this book.