Dan Campbell - Paper Boats, or Some Poems I Wrote
Release Date: June 2009
Publisher: No Sleep Records
"If I could go back in time to when I wrote sad little poems, I'd punch myself right in the fucking face because it gets worse man."
Reading the lyrics of The Wonder Years frontman Dan "Soupy" Campbell may lead you to believe that he's a carefree guy. After all, he's written songs about such silly topics as pirates, zombies and Captain Crunch. His chapbook, Paper Boats, or Some Poems I Wrote, reveals that there is more to him than meets the eye. While his lyrics only scratch the surface, Paper Boats delves further into the mind of Campbell as he deals with darker subject matter.
The 28-page book collects thirteen poems and two short stories on a variety of subjects. A common theme, book-ended by the introduction and final poem, is the death of a close friend. "April Ann Part One: Monday" is a highly emotional short story about having to deal with such a loss and then bearing the burden of spreading the news. It also reveals that, while performing live, the singer is "hating myself in a public forum that I've tricked into thinking I'm happy with who I am." It, along with much of the other material, is truly saddening to read. "Erosion," for example, is a disheartening poem about love loss.
Some of these writings brought me back to my days of reading Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower as a heartbroken high school freshman. That's not to say that Campbell's writing is amateurish in any way, but rather he is so articulate as he reflects on life that it brought me back to a time when my emotions ran as high as those of the scribe. For an writer to be able to convey and transfer such a feeling of isolation is no easy task.
It's not all depressing, though; many of the works are rich with Campbell's caustic, suburban sense of humor. A perfect example of the black comedy is "Dear Mr. Bukowski, Thank You for the Advice." The short story reads like a facetious suicide note in which the author realizes that he has found the perfect day (a Tuesday, of course) to kill himself, an opportunity which doesn't often present itself.
Campbell explores the deceptive nature of metaphors in "A Poem for Stan," which is fitting, given the straightforward nature of his writing. While poetry can often be riddled by metaphors with hidden meanings, this introspective author wears his heart on his sleeve. Many of Campbell's poems read like a stream of consciousness. As a result, he comes off as genuine, which in turn helps relate his emotion to the reader.
Paper Boats, or Some Poems I Wrote is a quick read; you can blow through it in about a half hour. The short length left me eager for more. I hope a follow-up comes into fruition, but until then I'm eagerly awaiting the lyric book of The Wonder Years' new album. Any fan of the band will appreciate the book, but liking the band is not a prerequisite for enjoying the effort. It'd love to fill this review with quotes from the works, but they're much more effective when read in context. The 200 copies of the first edition printing of Paper Boats have already sold out, but once the fine folks over at No Sleep Records print more, I urge you spend the five bucks on this great chapbook.
soupy gets a lot of shit from particular groups in the philly suburb scene (doylestown) but he is also really tight with people. i think his very forward personality is a love/hate kinda thing but it gives him a good voice for writing. he's definitely a smart guy. i'll check this out when more are printed. good luck TWY boys.