by J. Archer Avary
this information superhighway is clogged up / the questions never stop…
J. Archer Avery (he/him) is a former TV weatherman and champion lionfish hunter. He was born in the USA, became a household name in the Cayman Islands and now lives in South Tyneside with his wife. He has a window full of cacti and an enthusiastic interest in Newcastle United FC.
As part of a package deal with the excellent Back Room Poetry (who, for full disclosure purposes, are publishing a chapbook of mine in April) I have purchased all the small press’ output for the next twelve months. This is the second of three releases I’ll be reviewing this month, and it could not be more different than last week’s offering.
What’s in it for Me?
I say that total rhubarb is different, but there are clear parallels between this chapbook and Ford Dagenham’s, and it indicates that Back Room Poetry clearly know what they like and are ready to promote it. Archer Avary is a master of disappointment and escapism, a wizard with disassociation and regret. The accomplished and surreal nature of these poems are, at times, a thing of utter joy and what is presented here is a vast, sprawling album of random moments connected by an inescapably strong thread of narrative quirkiness.
Whether its instructional voyeurism mixed with terror/horror (and possible autobiography) of It’s Best to Fire an Employee on a Friday or the reflective yet eminently hollow/travesty of existence in Poem written the Night Before a New Job, we find a poet almost hyper-fixated on the minutiae of his life, and what that really means in the bigger scheme of reality. Form and function are both in abundance, too. There’s almost too much to take in sometimes, especially true in the superlative Items Lost in Transit, almost a parody in itself of the Onion headlines it in part peels apart as content.
This becomes a series of well-loved Polaroid snapshots, a narrative of a life lived and viewed from the obscurer angles, from spaces between success and depression, where joy and regret are never more than a stanza break away. Look between the lines here and the grief is palpable, the elation unbounded as you are ultimately left wanting. There’s also an inescapable, depreciating humour laced around this work, the kind you only recognize when you’ve lived life in highs and lows. I see a lot of myself between these covers.
The Bus is Late and so am I for the imagery
Sort of a Love Story for the inference
Items Lost in Transit for the impact
Any Other Business
I appreciate anyone who follows a team or a genre with a focus that allows their own passion and personality to emerge. Archer Avary’s support of Newcastle United tells me as much about them as a poet as their words have, and it’s always useful to have insights on what makes people tick outside the printed word. To be a true team supporter you will endure a lot, and often none of it is much fun, but you will always find a good story to tell. I think football fans make the best poets as a result.
These stories are beautiful, often brutal slivers of a life lived loud.
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