I’ve been reading John Dorsey for nearly a decade and have had the privilege of seeing this poet perform many times in Toledo, Ohio. I’ve been haunted by his words—stories of ghosts, of friends, of towns—and often wondered what it must feel like to be loved by John Dorsey.
In the Shoot the Messenger’s first poem, “The Alligator Man”, he writes, “the sun is just one of a thousand knick knacks / that gets drowned out by the pulse of your love” and “a marriage that can no longer walk / on water / gets frozen in time”.
Reading Dorsey’s poetry is like receiving a love letter from the world, and being affirmed that the world is an apologetic and welcoming place to live. Each poem feels so personal, as if I shouldn’t be allowed in on the idiosyncratic relationship between the poet and his subject. This is what also makes the poetry ring true on a universal level because each piece is so specific that they become undeniably relatable.
What makes this publication by Red Flag Poetry doubly enjoyable is the accompanying art by Greg Edmondson. Using a variety of mediums in the collection, Edmondson evokes a sublime sentimentality that transcends human nature into a more objective and abstract periphery.
The sum of the poetry and the art is a dadaist juxtaposition, a fusion of the surreal and the microscopic truths of everyday life. In pairings such as Dorsey’s poem “County Route 705” with Edmondson’s color pencil and collage “Perilous Journey”, the existentialism becomes more prevalent, accentuating the aesthetic of both the poetry and the artwork.
County Route 705
is full of ghost stories
faded yearbook photos
of dreams that died
on loose gravel
the sun shining
on our failures
just hanging there
like a rusty hubcap
nailed to the cross.
by John Dorsey
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