John Yamrus,
Doing Cartwheels on Doomsday Afternoon
(Epic Rites, 2010)

William Carlos Williams once remarked, "If it ain't a pleasure, it ain't a poem." Williams, a physician, novelist and poet, saw poetry as something important and vital to our lives.

I think John Yamrus would agree with that. In his poem, "Seriously," he comments that poetry isn't complicated -- "you/say/exactly/what/you/have/to say." And he does so in all his poems, writing in a conservational manner in free verse. He's also said he writes because he enjoys doing it.

There's nothing obscure about the poems in this book, or in his other volumes. No gimmicks, just facts stated in a clear and simple manner. Yet, so profound.

Yamrus doesn't strive to be profound. He's simply communicating. His themes are everyday life and all the little moments and emotions that fill it. He writes about a tough man who had a soft spot in his heart for his dog. The aches and pains of aging. The death of a car battery. Ordinary subjects. But read any of them a second time and you may find much more than you thought.

He's often self-effacing, as in "Reality Check," where he receives a check from one of his publishers and his wife tells him not to quit his day job. He writes often about the writing of poetry, because it's important to him. There are also a lot of reference to dogs, which provide a unique means of commenting on human frailty.

There's definitely pleasure in his writings -- both for him and the reader.

Yamrus lives in Sinking Spring, Pa. He's published 17 volumes of poetry. His work has been published in magazines around the world and his poems have been taught at both the high school and college levels, with selections translated into several languages.

book review by
John R. Lindermuth

19 February 2011

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