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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.
the neck of the fix
the fix of the break
the break of the naked
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
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
and more as our gulf
widened and finally broke
she was all that music
and I was her onceI cry because
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
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.