In April for National Poetry Month, I featured ten poets plus their work and authors writing about poetry collections! It was a lot of fun and so much talent was showcased, both from veteran, award-winning authors to newly-formed writers. You can look back on that later at this link, but first I have new poetry!
I decided to try to keep the poetry posts flowing through out the year, and with this month being May and Mental Health Awareness Month, I invited author, poet, editor, and co-owner of Raw Dog Screaming Press, John Edward Lawson, to join us.
John Edward Lawson’s poetry has often dealt with themes of mental illness. From his first chapbook, The Scars are Complimentary, to his forthcoming collection Bibliophobia (a collection of poems about phobias), Lawson explores the way ideas can take root in the fertile fields of the mind and grow wild with irrational fear. His third collection of poetry, SuiPsalms, was heavily influenced by the poetry of Sylvia Plath and explored themes of suicide.
John is someone I consider a friend and a mentor – he makes me think, makes me laugh, makes me consider. He’s an activist and joy to engage with online. He’s a wealth of knowledge and vocabulary. And he’s a talented writer, editor, and publisher. I enjoy my time working in the PR/Publicity/Marketing realm at Raw Dog Screaming Press because of all of this and more. I truly admire him. He has a lot of mental energy!
He’s an advocate for mental health awareness and so I am thrilled to share poetry by John with you within this theme. He’s also been a finalist for the Stoker Award (2006, Superior Achievement in Poetry), the Wonderland Award for Bizarro Fiction (2007, collected fiction), has been nominated twice for Dwarf Stars Award, and received nominations for the Pushcart Prize, two for the Rhysling Award, and honorable mention for the 2015 Wonderland Award.
The first two poems below are previously published in SuiPsalms and the third one is first look at one of the poems within his brand new collection Bibliophobia, which will come out later this year!
Concrete Operational Thinking
To be boring is a kind
of raucous self-murder
slowly stalking one childhood
dream after another, binding
teenage aspirations to the
steel table in Freud’s basement
Tracing a ruby Y along the svelte
torso of adulthood’s jubilant
release, from the authority
of parents and instructors
with the scalpel of truth:
That we cannot relinquish our
grasp on concrete limitations
no matter how cold or deep
the flow of life gets
Seventh (Healing) Circle
Spring’s breath aches through the nettles far removed
from prying eyes and mouths that can meddle
Those who went before remain unsettled
and scattered, their chalky frames ground to dust
If there is peace it is found in all rest…
be the bed consecrated or unblessed
from Bibliophobia (coming in October 2019)
The police in the station
are blank-faced, cold
like the sickly green-cast light
and another suspect’s distant wailing
Sitting across from interrogators makes
you feel somehow old
Even in silence you reach
for this conversation’s brakes
Staring at the photo your chest is tight
You were captured by traffic
cameras, lens after lens creeped
after you as the driver, but…
“Who’s the boy?” you ask, concealing panic
and you learn that he’s gone
missing, leaving behind all his belongings and some blood
You’ve never seen him so the photos are wrong
They have to be, you’ve been alone all along
His visage is sullen, resigned
as if he has already died
But perhaps that explains the cold spot on your right
and the exonerating idea blossoming in your mind:
for them to review the patrol car footage
and discover an unseen passenger coming along for the ride
in the back seat next to you, and later
staring into the interview room camera
on footage that will be “lost in the evidence room”…after all
how can you be expected
to control who hitches a ride with you
after their demise?
Amaxophobia: excessive fear of being in, meeting in, driving in, or riding in certain kinds of vehicles; or of vehicles in general.
Purchase or Add to GoodReads –
You can pre-order Bibliophobia now at the link below:
John Edward Lawson, Biography –
John Edward Lawson is the author of 16 books of fiction and poetry, and numerous chapbooks. Over 500 of his poems, stories, and articles have been published in magazines, anthologies, literary journals, and newspapers worldwide. He has been called “The forgotten black man of horror,” but he also regularly publishes science fiction, bizarro, mystery/thrillers, and literary fiction.
John was a winner of the 2001 Fiction International Emerging Writers Competition; in addition to being a finalist for the Stoker Award (2006, Superior Achievement in Poetry) and the Wonderland Award for Bizarro Fiction (2007, collected fiction), other award nominations include two for the Dwarf Stars Award, the Pushcart Prize, two for the Rhysling Award, and honorable mention for the 2015 Wonderland Award.
John is also a founding editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press, recognized by the Horror Writers Association in 2019 with their Specialty Press Award. He spent four years as editor-in-chief of The Dream People online literary journal of bizarro fiction and poetry. Other editorial projects include three print anthologies, four e-anthologies, and freelance work for such companies as National Lampoon and Double Dragon Publishing.
His hobbies include travel, games of strategy, and collecting Hong Kong comic books. He has an intense interest in films. During the 1990s he kicked around in the DC industrial-electro-goth scene in the band Dead Letter Office and owned Rack and Ruin Studio. He has been involved in the production of numerous short films, including award winners Party Girland Uberman: An Experiment in Consciousness. Director Jayson Densman has collaborated with John for years spawning a trilogy of PoVids derived from his poetry.
John currently serves as vice president of Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction. Please follow him at his BookBub page for updates about his new releases and discount deals. Visit John’s Amazon author page or find him on social media at the links below:
Thank you for joining us!
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