Gene McCormick


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Big City Nighttime Stories 

Gene McCormick captures the “ugh” moments of places and people a little too well.  I’ll just say it:  his writing makes me uncomfortable. What is he going to unveil next? What dysfunction is he going to uncover?  What underdog is he going to reveal?  He’s unpredictable.  I’ll just say it:  his writing is fascinating.  In this collection, we are reintroduced to “Ed” who is a regular in McCormick’s poetry.  Ed sleeps with prostitutes, drinks too much, has a terrible diet, and regularly judges others, but I like the guy anyway.  Sure, Ed is a loner and goes to all the dark places, but he does it all so colorfully.  Ed and all of McCormick’s poems make for delightfully dark reading

Review in Winter-Spring 2016 edition of The Rockford Review, published by the Rockford Writer’s Guild. Reviewer is editor Connie Kunst.

(Middle Island Press, 103 pages, $16)  by Gene McCormick is a collection of poetry available on Amazon or directly through the author.  Email: for more information or mail check/money order for $16 to PO Box 51, Wayne, IL 60184


C’est la Vie, Paris, June, 2014

A poll conducted by Barbaric Yawp, asking “Who are your three favorite poets?” with results posted in their Spring, 2014 issue, cites Gene McCormick as tied for third place behind William Shakespeare, John Keats, and William Blake, among others. Commentary referred to him as “My favorite poet working today.”

“Gene McCormick’s poems are approachable, insightful and vividly descriptive, to the point of being ‘mind-movies...’ Reading Gene’s work in a small chapbook is like finding Billy Joel working the piano bar at the local Holiday Inn. “—Jack Phillips Lowe, poet.

“McCormick’s poetic prose hits no false notes, and he sketches the story out as quickly as we can follow it. Read straight through, the narrative is heady, taking us in just a few minutes from the ‘primordial days’ of childhood to the world as it appears after death.”—Leslie Bary reviewing Lives Of Passion for Cybersoleil.

“The author moves with seeming effortlessness into the minds and souls of people of both sexes, of old and young, and of widely varying social situations....The result is one of the most readable collections I have come across for a long time.”—Jack Hart, editor, Ship of Fools, reviewing Tanya, Queen Of The Greasy Spoon.

“Hand-hewn poems of the America behind the headlines, away from the glitz and glamour, far from the all buildings and high finance. Mr. McCormick is the anti-Norman Rockwell, painting not the ideal, but the dirty bricks and stone, the flat tires and lives, and the one for the road that goes nowhere.”—Phil Wagner, editor, The Iconoclast.

“This is what good narrative poetry is all about and Gene McCormick is a modern master of the form.”—poet Alan Catlin.

“Exotic. Erotic. Sacred. Profane. Erudite. Naive. Journalistic. Altruistic. Aloof. Compassionate.”—David Ross, Rockford Writers’ Guild, on C’est la Vie.


An Ice Ax At Dusk.

Reading Gene McCormick's An Ice Ax at Dusk is like looking at paintings by Edward Hopper; the ones featuring shadows and light, empty rooms at different hours of the day, a sunset viewed over railway tracks and telephone wires, a well-lighted boardinghouse as seen from outside.  Waiting, inside, are ordinary people, not necessarily living lives of quiet desperation, as just getting by. This is what good narrative poetry is all about and Gene McCormick is a modern master of the form.--Alan Catlin, Author of Near Death in the Afternoon on Becker Street

An Ice Ax At Dusk is a treasure. Each poem is another prose painted piece added to the vast interlocking jigsaw puzzle of heartland America, which McCormick is assembling—like Dickens’ London or Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.-- Rex Sexton, Author of  X-Ray Eyes.

Beautifully constructed poetry about the people, the people! McCormick’s characters are well-described and the moments he depicts are immediately identifiable “…Life of the party, a piano-playing drunk…” His work has an ache to it that I deeply appreciate and his talent for expressing a wide variety of specific subjects boggles my mind. McCormick’s poetry makes society’s castoffs, misfits and also-rans be seen for what and who they truly are: respectable, unique and mesmerizing people.”—Connie Kuntz, Editor, The Rockford Review


Livin’ The Blues At Cranky Jack’s Bar & Grill

“Livin’ The Blues At Cranky Jack’s Bar & Grill chased all my blues away. Thanks for the tour of a colorful town. It was a treat to meet its denizens and it read more like a novella than a narrative collection—a novella rich in breadth, depth and the nuance of language.”--Rex Sexton, Artist and author of X-Ray Eyes


Naked Skeletons

“Honesty is one of the most important aspects of poetry, and Gene McCormick presents a series of vivid observations…The poetry found within the collection presents a view of modern life that is both honest and imaginative at the same time, providing a compelling read that is never mundane…a powerful work, with the only real flaw being that it leaves the reader begging for more.”--Richard Pulfer, The Rockford Review, Winter-Spring 2011

“Gene McCormick gets right to the bones in his aptly titled collection, “Naked Skeletons;” real people, living everyday lives, in places we all recognize. This is a perfect collection to read with a cup of coffee in your favorite diner or with a beer while your team is playing on the tube. The people he is writing about are your neighbors, your friends, maybe even you. If you enjoy good, solid, narrative poetry, “Naked Skeletons” is definitely a book for you.”

--Alan Catlin, Author of Near Death In The Afternoon On Becker Street

“Gene McCormick’s Naked Skeletons reads like a small movie-story. The endings, which at first seem to have a matter of fact way about them, are really very poignant and make the reader go ‘whoa!’”--Cathy Porter, Author of Taking In Strays


Tanya, Queen Of The Greasy Spoon:

“Gene McCormick has done it again. While his last collection was filled with everyday observations turned epic and mythical, his latest work—Tanya, Queen Of The Greasy Spoon—is a step on the other side. Here, McCormick’s work has a gritty, biting edge which is no less profound.

Tanya, Queen Of The Greasy Spoon remains equally balanced despite its cynicism. Almost every poem seems to spin an ironic twist in each conclusion, some playful, others ironic, and still others sinister. But no matter what the tone, the results keep each poem as lively and interesting as the next, with the reader equally enthralled as to what McCormick will pull from his poetic bag of tricks next.

“McCormick’s poetry once again elevates to new heights, even as it probes the darker levels of the human condition. Whatever the author’s conclusion on the American dream, McCormick’s newest collection leaves no stone unturned and no idea unturned upon its ear in this provocative offering. Tanya, Queen Of The Greasy Spoon is a dazzling, delectable and disturbing piece, all in one bite.”--Richard Pulfer, The Rockford Review, Winter-Spring 2010

“Finally! Readable, story-telling poetry that is entertaining…Tanya is over the top, a wonderful collection!”

“Gene is a people’s poet.”--David Ross, The Rockford Writers’ Guild

“Gene McCormick’s writing is alluring, taking me places I’ve never been, seeing sights I’ve never seen, thinking thoughts new to my way of thinking…Underneath the surface of his poetry is where the real story is told, where the mystery of the poem dwells. What the reader sees and hears isn’t really all that’s going on. The people in these poems don’t want to be seen for who they are. They want their human frailties to remain hidden, so their actions and behaviors cover over their quiet desperation.”--Charles Portolano, author of All Eyes on US.


Rain On The Sun:

Rain On The Sun was like reading Carver and Chandler at the same time. I really felt at home in the world [McCormick] created.”--Rex Sexton, Author of Desert Flower

“Gene McCormick has mastered the illusion of thoroughness…his work includes deep, sensual descriptions wrought through piercing perceptions instead of checklist adjectives. Instead, McCormick will often leave out one single detail which turns the entire story on its head by the narrative’s end. The result is extremely compelling…featuring both twisted tales and everyday observations.

“McCormick’s styling is certainly unconventional, with many of the installments formatted into stanza-like blocks of text…The result gives McCormick a more measured and almost rhythmic approach…where this format is applied. Nearly every piece in Rain on the Sun is solid and noteworthy in its own regard.

“It is [on the front cover] that the book lists a collection of abstract qualities ranging from beauty to fate. It’s a tall order, but Rain on the Sun fills each of these promises…Rain on the Sun is an immensely engrossing and interesting collection. McCormick is able to take everyday people and places and weave them into something otherworldly and epic, and that is certainly something worth celebrating. Ultimately, Rain on the Sun is every bit as amazing as its namesake.”--Richard Pulfer, The Rockford Review, Summer-Fall, 2009

“A virtuoso performance. Fresh, colorful, startling.”


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