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The Eater of the Absurd: A Book Review by Kristen D. Scott

 

 

John Burroughs is an Everyman in every sense of the word. When reading his collection The Eater of the Absurd, (Night Ballet Press, 2012), the reader experiences the multifaceted aspects of the Everyman in language and images. Burroughs is also yin and yang, mixing vulnerability with resolve and gutty prison hard-hitting masculinity. He is bodacious, and at the same time graceful, a gentleman and a conveyor of no nonsense tolerance. In his work, "Lit (Er, a Tour)," the reader views the gift that Burroughs has in arranging free verse with traditional rhyme schemes, while writing them with apparent satire. 

 

          At the Literary Café

          I tap at my HP laptop

          just in from the backroom

          where Tremont’s self-named

          Pretentious Artists are

          drawing Geri’s portrait

 

          Too many people showed up

          to draw for my pretentious

          computer and me to fit

          so I sit at the bar with

          a goblet of Samuel Adams

          drafting this poem

          happy for an excuse

          to watch the proprietor

          draw me another (1-15)

 

 

Burroughs's poetry beckons a mixture of the classical, and infuses it  with street-jive. He is a poet that is meant to be heard and not simply read; his work demands this from  the reader,  with his combining of slam, traditional rhyme, and edgy contemporary free verse. At times the rhymes discombobulate with his collapse of language, reiterating the word "Absurd" from the collections's title. 

 

 

          Breaking

          the neck of the fix

          necking

          the fix of the break

          fixing

          the break of the naked

          poets bending

          over for a title

          at the shot

          Vengeance for screaming and frankly

          I uncrank the cold cock and kick

          the conscious scream of selfless steam

          sticking the stoke of the stroke in your choke

 

          Whoever said gerunds must go did not know

          and was not close to knowing

          (Idée Unfixe)

 

 

One of my favorite aspects of Burrough's works is place, and how he draws the reader into landscape with sex and raw, gritty language: Clevand, Lorraine, Bar Harbor, Maine, Hinkle moutain, a jailhouse, downtown Elyria, women named Geri, Cassie, Melissa, bars, streets, and psycho hospitals:

 

 

          I began to see further

          into the mouth of what

          Cleveland might be

          She was my       introduction

          to poetry while she wrote

          and my graduate course

          when she quit

          She was my it

          and but and ormy Marillion and

          uncountable millions

          and more as our gulf

          widened and finally broke

          Wreck her

          she was all that music

          and I was her onceI cry because

          I can’t

          be still

          (Leave)

 

 

John Burroughs's Eater of the Absurd is a must have for your library. The man writes with grit, and promises his reader an edgy ride through his riveting collection. I leave you with an example of Burrough's ability to transform – from “Three Nights' Drafts”:

 

          Cool white cascades in

          impenetrable darkness.

          I quickly drink it.

 

 

 

 

Kristen D. Scott  is a nominee of the Pushcart prize in poetry for five works from her collection,  OPIATE (Garden Oak Press, 2014). She is  an award-winning essayist for her work on Federico Garcia Lorca and his books the Divan del Tamarit, Poet of the Deep Song, and essay, "The Duende." 

 

She has published in several Anthologies, newspapers, and ezines, including the San Diego Poetry Annuals, Nomos Review, Perigee, Alesbuyia, and published two poetry collection from Garden Oak Press; LIAISONS (2012) and OPIATE (2014). She has also been translated into Arabic, Turkish and Sanskrit.

 

Scott is currently the Editor-In-Chief, founder, and web designer of KNOT Magazine, holds a MFA in Creative Writing, MA in English Literature, and progressing with her Ph.D in Global Education. 

 

She resides on the Riviera in Türkiye. 

John Burroughs, a.k.a. Jesus Crisis, is a northeast Ohio poet and publisher who co-founded the monthly Lix and Kix Poetry Extravaganza and yearly Snoetry: A Winter Wordfest. He is the author of Oct Tongue -1 (with Mary Weems, John Swain, Steven Smith, Lady, Shelley Chernin and Steve Brightman) [Crisis Chronicles Press], The Eater of the Absurd [NightBallet Press] and many chapbooks including, most recently, It Takes More Than Chance to Make Change [The Poet's Haven], Barry Merry Baloney [Spare Change Press], Water Works [Recycled Karma Press], Electric Company [Writing Knights Press] and Identity Crises (with Douglas Manson and Bree) [Green Panda Press]. He has also served as editor of Cheap and Easy Magazine and the anthology F#ck Poetry.

For around a decade leading up to the turn of the millennium, John served as a full-time playwright and occasional music director in residence for the Ministry of Theatre at Marion Correctional Institution. In 2007, his blog was ranked number 1 in several categories on MySpace. After that, John won the first poetry slam he ever competed in, formed the association known as Poets of Lorain County, has contributed irregularly to the Cleveland Poetics and Ohio Poetry Association blogs, and is perhaps most proud of his work (since 2008) as the founding editor of Crisis Chronicles Press.