Southeast Missouri State University Press

Back of the Envelope

Greg McBride

Finalist for the 2009 DeNovo First Book Award
Publication: 2009
Pages: 36

“Back of the Envelope gives us paper cuts as we find ourselves in the hands of a poet who earned his stripes as a photographer in Nam. The poems are dead-on accurate and pungent. We wonder how we’ve earned the right to have his life spilled out before us. McBride’s voice is his own. He’s going to be around a long time.” —Dan Masterson

“Here is a lyric poet of considerable gifts in whose words the remembered and the embodied are brought forth uncannily—the familiar strange, the strange strangely familiar. Greg McBride’s poems make of the past—its burdens and its blessing—an honest, radiant, and finely tuned music.” —Eric Pankey

“In his exact witnessing of childhood’s vividness, war’s shock, and the dynamics of love, Greg McBride reminds us of the redress that poetry can accomplish. In poems that are troubling and redemptive, McBride shows that the progress of a life through time is as beautiful as it is painful, intimately eloquent even as it participates in the worst moments of our history.” —Rick Barot

“From Okinawa to Vietnam to the marital bed, these poems pack a punch—and a caress. Military and domestic battlegrounds are viewed close up, through the unsparing eye of a photographer. And yet these poems fairly bristle with restrained emotion. These are decent, honorable poems, and under them all is a fine music that makes the grief more bearable.” —Barbara Goldberg

“This extraordinary little collection marks one of the most auspicious late-bloomer debuts in contemporary American poetry. These are poems of haunting, cinematic power. The language is its own landscape here—with each poem wrapped so tight you think it may explode—perfectly conveying the emotion and intimacy that mark McBride’s wondrous, and sometimes frightening, universe.” —Terence Winch

Acknowledgements from this collection:

32 Poems Magazine:  “Reunion”

Adirondack Review:  “The Crow”

Bellevue Literary Review:  “Back of the Envelope”

Boulevard: “Backseat Passenger,” “The Army Thought of Everything,” “Lament for the Fettered Self”

Chautauqua Literary Journal: “Hunted”

Connecticut Review: “In Country: Day One”

Folio: “Over Arlington Cemetery”

Off the Record: Poems by Lawyers: “Home Visit,” “Tu Do Street”

Pebble Lake Review: “Tinnitus: A Solitary Theme Song”

Poet Lore: “At the Cemetery,” “The Little Leaguer,” “Transit”

Potomac Review: “The Operating Room,” “Tight Waist”

Roanoke Review: “Wind Wild”

Salmagundi: “Music Lady”

Southeast Review: “Kitchen Duty”

Southern Indiana Review: “Afternights”

Southern Poetry Review: “First Rites”

Valparaiso Poetry Review: “The Occupation,” “Dead Man’s Word”

Greg McBride was born in San Diego, California, on the grounds of the Army’s Camp Callan (now the site of Torrey Pines Golf Course) just months before the end of World War II. A peripatetic, military childhood ensued, one shaped and shadowed by the war. Early postings included Japan (during the U.S. occupation), Missouri, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, and Okinawa (also during the occupation). His four years of military service included one as an Army photographer in the Vietnam War. A graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown University, he practiced law for thirty years, most of those at the U.S. Department of Transportation. He now edits The Innisfree Poetry Journal (, consults on transportation issues, and does some freelance editing. In 2008, he won the Boulevard Emerging Poet prize. His poems, essays, and reviews appear widely in such journals as Bellevue Literary Review, Boulevard, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Connecticut Review, Gargoyle, Gettysburg Review, Hollins Critic, Poet Lore, Salmagundi, Southeast Review, and Southern Poetry Review. He and his wife Lois, longtime residents of Silver Spring, Maryland, have three children and five grandchildren.

Chapbook, $6.00
ISBN: 978-0-9798714-9-8