I’m still new to the poetry scene and Raw Dog Screaming has been a beacon of light helping me navigate the waters. John Edward Lawson’s 2006 collection, The Troublesome Amputee, doesn’t quite fit with any poetry I’ve read or reviewed before. To be fair, if the title and cover art didn’t get across the possibilities for what you’re about to immerse yourself in, Michael Arnzen’s introduction would likely do the trick.
The pieces in Lawson’s collection comes in all shapes and sizes, categorized mainly as dark poetry that employs some more traditional aspects, but also gets experimental in other places. The Troublesome Amputee even has limericks. I read between five and ten poems a day as I took my time wading through this collection, and quickly found that each day, each exploration held something new for me.
A reader might find themselves enveloped in social commentary. Turn the page. Grisly horror. Flip. Satire. Flip. Outright humor. Flip. Something so bizarre, you have to reread it to make sure you didn’t miss something. Lawson takes the reader on a journey, and I wasn’t far along on the ride, before realizing this would be something I’d want to do again and picking up another collection by the author. For anyone interested, the poem that made me temporarily close the book and go in search of more is called Full of Flava, and drips with social satire.
Some of my other favorites in the collection include the almost outright horror of Tricks of the Trade, the use of repetition in Past, and the back to back hits of Plunder Revisited and Demands of the Voluptuous Virginal Sacrifice. As a superhero nerd, Marvels of Horror made my day, with Doctor Doom being my personal favorite portion. Finally, Lawson’s homage to Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor is a great longer form poem to cap the collection.
I’d be disingenuous if I claimed to understand the absolute intent of the artist in every single work contained within. I’ve certainly developed an appreciation for poetry, but it still occasionally flies over my head at alarming rates. I will say that even the poems that left me scratching my head provided horrific or startling imagery to sit and ponder. Lawson made me think, even if that train of thought didn’t lead me to any specific destination. That, my friends, makes for an author worth revisiting.
Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
Release Date: June 15, 2006
I was given a copy by the publisher for review consideration.