can’t stop now! poetry by John Yamrus (133 pages, Epic Rites Press)
It seems standard to begin a look at a John Yamrus book by noting how deceptively simple his poems are. Very short, clipped lines. Spare imagery. Microscope on the everyday.
But that deception is critical. Anyone can try to write like him. Few will do well enough that anyone else would want to read the result.
What shapes and makes a Yamrus poem is his narrative voice, a poetic mask uniquely his own – even if what characterizes it is just the edge of dry wit, with a little sympathy stropped in, too.
In this collection, that voice can relate the stories of a cast of everyday characters to comedic, but empathetic, effect; or take the piss out of the pretentious; or, in the specific case of “twenty four hundred years ago”, contrast the grand with the plain in a way that gently humbles both reader and poet.
Yamrus even takes a self-deprecating turn in “on reading some of”. In this poem, he writes of how a friend, unimpressed with his poetry, whips off his own Yamrus-style verse. Yamrus then neatly incorporates it into this, his own poem on the event -proving again, in that subtle yet cutting way, that many can try but few can do.
Get it from www.epicrites.org