Thursday, December 17, 2009

John Gallaher - Winner of the twelfth annual Boston Review poetry contest

Congratulations. Interesting poems.

John Gallaher

Winner of the twelfth annual Boston Review poetry contest

In John Gallaher’s series of “Guidebook” poems, Big Brother (or some other faux Reality Show) is on tape loop in the Cartesian theater. Shards of jaded narrative are locked in a house together, and they hate each other! The poems are full of paratactic leaps, each a desperate attempt at escape, except, we find out, escape is just another schtick, e.g., “Adam turned aside to indulge a passion for turning aside.” But Gallaher gives us to understand that all the digression, all the zigzagging in the world won’t really get us outside the “penopticon.” Our moves are written into the script. This is disturbing, of course, but “Rosie was mostly happy though and knew that all would one day be another day.” These poems may be the boxes we’re always trying to “think outside of.” ‘Lots of luck!’ they tell us. “Now there is relentless war between us, says the senator, as he goes off to dine with Buffy.” With their cast of recurring characters, the poems in Gallaher’s series are as bitter and skeptical —and funny!—as (old) Bob Dylan songs. We may not know the way out, but we’d better not get too comfortable here in the endless preview. Are we being warned? Near the end, “Chicken Little and the Boys have some words.”

—Rae Armantrout, Judge

Go read the poems.

1 comment:

will said...

Hi, WH,

I'm the PR guy for Boston Review. I just wanted to thank you for your kind words about our poetry contest winner, but ask that you remove the poems from your website. Rights to reprint the poems revert back to John, so you'll have to contact him for permission.


Will Fertman