Monday, July 20, 2009

Poet John Yamrus Joins Our Podcast This Friday

Please plan to join Sarah Moore, author's assistant with Writers in the Sky, this Friday for her interview with poet John Yamrus. They will be discussing Mr. Yamrus' recently published collection of work entitled New and Selected Poems.

New and Selected Poems is the seventeenth book of poetry published by John Yamrus. The collection features seventy-six poems, sixteen of which are being published for the first time. His work has been translated into Spanish, Swedish, Italian, Japanese, French, and, most recently, Romanian and been discussed in classrooms at both the high school and college level. He has received accolades and public recognition for his writing, with 2009 marking his second consecutive nomination for the Pushcart Prize for Poetry.

John Yamrus will be discussing the influences behind his writing, his thoughts on academic poets, and the dangers of peer criticism, as well as sharing some examples of his work.

To purchase New and Selected Poems, please visit the Amazon website or Lummox Press.

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: New and Selected Poems
Author: John Yamrus
ISBN Number: 978-1-929878-00-0
Publisher: Lummox Press
Genre and Target Market: poetry
Publication Date: 2009
Book Length in Pages: 138

I did not approach the latest collection by John Yamrus, entitled New and Selected Poems, with any pretense of providing a critical and academic perspective on his rhythmic flow or line structure. I certainly am no expert on poetry, but instead I am simply a lifelong admirer of anyone who can weave together language and create beautiful art. Besides, I always felt that deconstructing a poem and writing a five-page essay on its symbolism or a specific word choice removed some of the unfiltered emotion I could experience from a well-written poem. Despite already learning that works by Yamrus have been studied by both high school and college students, I was able to open his book without viewing it through the lens of academia. I knew that my approach towards the work of John Yamrus would simply be to open the pages of his book and share my personal reaction.

In his poetry, much to my delight, Yamrus himself challenges the notion of academic poetry. In fact, he shares an automatic suspicion of those poets who are embraced by the ivory tower community. The poem “the academic poet” describes such a writer
as one who

has been included in

countless anthologies

he’s received fellowships

and grants

however his poetry shows that

there is no soul

no guts

it’s so much empty air.

This sentiment, repeated in several of the pieces in New and Selected Poems, resonated with me as I often felt frustrated by professors telling me which writers should be studied and honored and even how I should react to their words. I was thrilled to meet, at least through his words, a poet who displayed a true passion for the purity of the craft.

Most of Yamrus’ work focuses on everyday observations made as he sits with his loyal dog, responds to letters and emails written by those who have read some of his previous work, or makes a trip to the neighborhood drug store. While the circumstances may seem ordinary, Yamrus’ wry perspective and sharp use of language make each poem a piece to be read over and over again. With the risk of sounding trite or simply offering the expected praise, I will freely admit that I found a connection, or at least a personal understanding, with each selection. I appreciate Yamrus’ matter-of-fact approach to each topic that he addresses and the self-awareness that he holds for his place in the world of poets.

The new collection by John Yamrus, New and Selected Poems, includes pieces that he has written over the past twenty-four years as well as sixteen new offerings. Whether is he railing against “poets” who are

saying nice things

only to get the same nice things

said about their own

mindless crap

(my personal favorite) or sharing his tiresome reaction to television news with lines such as

bored with it all,

i turn it off

and walk down the hall…

stumbling toward/eternity.

film at 11,

Yamrus employs humor, irritation, reverence, and resignation to engage the reader in the various subjects that demand his response. New and Selected Poems was my introduction to John Yamrus, and offered a greeting that guarantees I will reach back to discover what he has written in the past and wait with anticipation to see what he produces in the future.

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