The Third Voice – Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration

The Third Voice – Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration


Eric Greinke

Perfectbound Paperback, 84 pages, $13.95


In The Third Voice, poet Eric Greinke memorializes and analyzes his collaborations with five accomplished poets (Harry Smith, John Elsberg, Hugh Fox, Glenna Luschei and Alison Stone) over a twelve year period. From each of the collaborations, a “third voice” emerged that represented the shared persona of the poet-participants. In Chapter One, Greinke examines several major factors that influence the formation of a collaborative third voice in poetry and his early experiences of collaboration.  Chapter Two examines parallel dialogical collaboration, a form where poets write whole poems independently but in specific response to each other’s poems.  Chapter Three is about an evolving collaboration which began in parallel form and developed into three increasingly more integrated collaborative projects. Chapter Four describes his intensely emotional collaboration with a fellow poet with terminal cancer. Chapters Five and Six recall his two cross-gender and generational collaborations. In Chapter Seven, Greinke identifies ten dimensions of collaborative personae, including tense and persona, interpersonal, regional, gender and generational diversity, play, and compatibility factors.  Includes numerous examples of collaborative poems throughout the text.  In The Third Voice, Greinke writes from both head and heart while making his case for the expansion of a poet’s style through collaboration.

“Eric Greinke is a rare example of a small press poet who has followed in the tradition of Sydney, Shelley and Pound by addressing the question of what poetry is all about.  His ideas are clearly bound to his own practice, and yet he is capable of sufficient generalization to go right to the heart of literature.  What are we doing and why?  He has come up with his own answers based on a lifetime in the trenches of art, and his testimony is invaluable, if not the last word.”                                    – William Seaton, Home Planet News

“Readers often mistakenly believe that to be “good,” poetry must be written with exquisite, complex language, almost like the trills and other flourishes decorating Baroque music.  However, as prize-winning poet, publisher, essayist, social worker and philosopher Eric Greinke explains, in poetry, the enchanting, decorative quality of language represents ideas. This is Greinke at his best, advocating at the cutting edge of human growth in consciousness and love, and doing it with poetry.”                     – Ann Wehrman, Poetry Now

“Mr. Greinke’s experiences as an educator, editor, publisher, and of course, poet, among other things, establishes him as a spokesperson for the art non-pareil.  In an era of little time, respect and patience, he may be the best person to spread the non-religious good news – a people’s poet laureate.”                           – Phil Wagner, Iconoclast