Some Sweet Vandal
DescriptionIf you're weary of ironic poems that wink at the camera, welcome to the ardent-hearted world of James Dickson. In Some Sweet Vandal, Dickson finds delight and depth in the everyday, and always in fresh language. We meet a high school teacher who reflects on Sylvia Plath during a school shooter training, a lifeguard in a camp for mentally handicapped adults, a father imagining his toddler's passage into a future where one day he'll deliver his eulogy. These are poems that, with skill and insight, connect us with our humanity, and they are a tremendous gift.
―Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs
Dickson is the teacher's teacher and voyeur of things that can hurt and heal. Some Sweet Vandal is a compilation of sympathy and song. Our poet moves us through private landscapes where both dead and living poets foreshadow our destinies when they are "bent like a comma." Mississippi landscape and food that stick to your ribs is a steady drum for these songs. He is both loving and demanding of the state he belongs to. "I'm lonely as hell driving through Zion, Mississippi," we read while finding all the company in words that invite, feed, and serve us through rigorous Southern hospitality and carefully constructed prosody.
―Derrick Harriell, author of Stripper in Wonderland
Too often, contemporary poetry presents itself as a document of truth and beauty, but here in James Dickson's excellent collection Some Sweet Vandal, we're treated to a more realistic and nuanced worldview: the landscape described by an eye that sees the entire panorama and understands that scars and broken flowers can be as beautiful as any pastoral setting. If beauty is the beginning of terror, these intricately crafted poems remind us of what happens when angels open their mouths to speak, that poetry can be the place where healing begins, and that sometimes it is our words that bind our experiences together into a slender yet elegant ray of longing and melancholy that makes art out of our darkest experiences.
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