2014-09-12

Review of Grochalski's "starting with the last name grochalski"


John Grochalski’s poetry collection, starting with the last name grochalski, is a little world in itself. Each poem could stand alone, but together they comprise a glimpse into the life of a would-be poet and novelist struggling under the weight of repetitious, ordinary life. He seeks flashes of genius, responding to works of Bukowski and Kerouac with laughter and tears that look crazed to those around him, as in “gallows humor” or “crying over kerouac… again.” He expresses wonderment at the sight of a woman applying “deodorant” on public transportation.


Grochalski once stated that "there is no such thing as writer's block," and draws inspiration  from perspiration. Yet he is all too aware that these moments are what another poet called "vacations of life," the time in between the dull grind of the week. His job exists, in this collection of poems, as a gray haze that he just came from and must go back to; something he tries to forget in the meantime. 

Indeed, the poet seems tormented by these bright moments in a way because he knows they exist, and is horribly aware that most of his life does not measure up to them, any more than most writers measure up to Bukowski or Kerouac, or Bruno Schulz or Kafka, or whoever your heroes are who illuminate the familiar with the lightning-flash of ostranenie.

And sometimes it happens, as in the wonderfully odd “bug noir.”

There is something vulnerable about Grochalski’s hard-bitten poems. He   has the courage to live with facts that most of us do not admit except in times of crisis. That is, even the best of us do not feel like artists. We try to reach that idealized world of “real poets” that we feel like our heroes must have moved through like a fish in water, but we fear that the limit of our own ability is to grow older while merely “looking like an artist.”
Grochalski may or may not look like an artist, but his poetry is more than skin-deep.
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The Editor has been published in Copperwood Review, Humanist Magazine, Niche, The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and has poems scheduled for publication in Poetry Pacific Magazine.  

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