I am Jack's smirking revenge--with Poetry: National Anthem
J. Gordon
3/9/2009 2:46:47 PM

In the way that Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club introduced a new generation of adolescent American males to reading, Kevin Prufer’s National Anthem [Four Way Books] might do the same for poetry. In fact, Prufer’s violent, Mad-Max, post-apocalyptic, spiritual nether-world might be just the thing to get this traditionally non-lit crowd to consider that poems don’t always have to rhyme or be full of goo.

National Anthem is not a book that’s designed to choke the reader up with emotion (although it might threaten a stranglehold). It’s weird, vivid, and bloody; it is the evening news allowed to run amuck, airing whatever bleeds, leads, in between too-loud commercials and sitcom jingles.

This is Prufer’s world, and frankly, it’s creepy. High-drama poetry, to be sure. This poet’s use of spacings and dropped lines build a literal visual image to complement the nightmare movies in your mind. But beyond the hype—beyond the somewhat (and intentionally) gimmicky associations, are images and wordplay that will make you gasp—In awe, this time, not shock. Consider:

“office towers bending down to us as if they’d cup us in their hands and warm us”

The sliding doors of a mall “opened for you like a coat”.

“The church was quiet / as a closed fist”.

Stunning stuff, but not before bed.


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