Review: John Berryman Is Dead

Alex Stolis
Poetry
26 pages
Electronic only: Online viewer, PDF, ePUB, and Kindle Mobi
Creative Commons License CC BY-ND 3.0
First Edition
USA
Available HERE
Free in all formats
Review originally published on 1/26/15


As an avid traveler, I often find myself writing love letters to the cities I’ve been. From afar, I watch them evolve against the backdrop of a most-unwelcoming post-9/11 world. There is a grittiness, and a darkness, to our world today that puts us on edge. This darkness, this grittiness, was certainly captured in John Berryman is dead, a collection of poetry by Alex Stolis.

Separated into three parts, John Berryman is a conversation not only about death, but about the life that ultimately leads to an early death. Touching on themes that would be familiar to fans of Bukowski’s work, we find quick bursts of beauty written in between messages to “Brother John.” Most notably, on page 17, Stolis writes:

[…] It’s all breakable. With right
timing. With right fist. With beauty. Exhausted tourists walk
in circles around Times Square looking for the perfect photo
opportunity.

With heartbreaking lines about beauty and death, infidelity and addiction, John Berryman isn’t a collection that will be leaving me any time soon.