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About the Book

A blend of crime/noir, and urban poetry, River Street Rhapsody is here to bring its readers a brutally honest look at one writer's hometown—hurt, grit, and drugs included.


"Portentous, poignant, and without pretense. You'll remember these poems."

                 — Gerald So, Editor of The Five-Two

River Street Rhapsody is a bleak and brilliant portrait of lives unmoored in the darkest corners of modern America.


Depicting the stark realities of poverty and addiction, Blackwell’s perspicacity shines like the sharpest knife-edge. He dissects desolate places and desperate people with a merciless eye, pins down the (oft-ignored, frequently misunderstood) drifters, misfits and fuck-ups, and captures them in all their misery and tragic glory. But there is compassion in Blackwell’s voice, and love, hope and beauty are to be found in the most unlikely of places, in the most surprising ways.


An utterly captivating collection, rich with striking imagery, cutting lines and taut lyricism, River Street Rhapsody is sublime from start to finish. 

                 — HLR, author of History of Present Complaint


C.W. Blackwell’s debut book is precisely what it promises in the title, but it’s as much dirge as it is rhapsody, a requiem for the dead and dying, the clawing and the crawling back. Addicts, murderers, casualties of the streets. Blackwell sings us their desperate cries in a voice both powerful and restrained, never over-the-top, as might be the instinct of a lesser writer tackling such subject matter. Gorgeous in its bleakness and in its moments of disarming compassion, this collection presents a world stripped to the bone, unadorned with the exhausting, esoteric pretensions muddying up so much of what passes for poetry, past and present, and I couldn’t be happier for it. I’ve read my share of “dark” verse, and with few exceptions, most inevitably reads like an angsty high schoolers journal entry. But Blackwell shows us how it’s done. This is the sort of gritty, raw, self-assured poetry I’d love to see more of, frankly. Hot damn. We’ve been done a great service here. You’d be a fool to sleep on this one.”


                 — William R. Soldan, author of So Fast, So Close and                                 Undone Valley

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