Review of Cramped Uptown by Amy Temple Harper

athCramped Uptown
by Amy Temple Harper
34 ppg, Hard Cover, bound by Spork Press
Review by Travis Catsull
Cramped Uptown is the first book from Amy Temple Harper and it’s a thing of beauty and imagination. A very strange imagination mind you, but it’s a welcome change from the norm. This collection is broken into poetry, fiction and a short non-fiction piece at the end about her getting fired from her job as a cook at a strip club for pulling a knife on a patron. It’s a great way to end this quick adventure through the tell all day dreams Amy conjures. The clever insight to Amy’s thoughts and desires are proof that she’s having a wonderful time writing and that makes Cramped Uptown a very fun read and sometimes funny. In the poem “Spice” Amy creates elegant analogies to different types of spices, but abruptly ends the piece with a slice of life:
My two year old son was
picking his nose and eating it.
I said, “don’t do that.”

He said, “why not? It’s good.”
But more often we find this book fantastical and sliced deep into several layers of Amy’s own world. In the poem below it’s easy to imagine Amy sitting at home writing this poem waiting for a guest that may or may not ever come. Regardless, the ending is loud and poetic:
The Cat Burglar
I wait in the dark
half-fearing, half-longing
to see you.
Your picture’s in the
paper. Said you had
a scar over your right eye
and you’ve managed to
rob forty-five houses.
Well, I too have a scar, but
I can’t tell you where it is.
My front door and my back door
are unlocked and left wide open
waiting for a cool breeze
or an attack.
I left my watch on the table,
hoping maybe you’ll take i t,
when really what I hope you’ll
take is time.
My light is on, the window
is open, can you see me?
I write feverishly hoping
to document a crime in
my own life.
If just to prove I was there.
The book itself is also beautifully done and is credited to Spork Press. Although when I visited Spork’s cryptic website there’s no mention of this book or where they are located so I can’t tell you where to buy this one. Overall, this is a very mature and well done first release. It teems with life and creativity and that’s always a great place to start. I look forward to more releases from Amy Temple Harper and hope the small press world takes notice and picks up on this super imaginative writer.

0 thoughts on “Review of Cramped Uptown by Amy Temple Harper

  1. MMM. Title suggests the telling of urban experience. Wild imagination always catches my attention (for some odd reason). The sample poem was funny yet i felt it had a deeper treasure to explore, or in this case steal (no pun intended). I think sometimes that the city life mindset is a micro/macrocosm of man’s attempt to overcome nature to the point of thwarting it and usurping God’s creative power. In any case, humor is always a good pill to couple with life’s more serious issues. This should be a good read. Spork Press–love that!

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