Synopses & Reviews
Poetry. Winner of the 2011 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. John Beer's first collection, The Waste Land and Other Poems, employs the wit of a philosopher and the ear of a poet to stage ways of reading that are political, personal, and theoretical. The speaker of these poems also brings humor to the dissecting table, to prod the legacies of great works of the imagination while balancing irony and affection.
"Few things are sacred, few places are safe, and few poets can convey the unsettling burden of their responsibility as engagingly as Beer the rare poet who strives (in the Berrigan-esque Sonnets to Morpheus) to prove 'I'm more than the sum of my mirrors,' and somehow succeeds." The Boston Globe
"Only a genius could write a book called The Waste Land and Other Poems. Well, John Beer is that person. 'I set out to write a treatise on failure, and it turned out my subject was love, he writes. Call it my confusion.' We should all be so confused." John Ashbery
"The Waste Land and Other Poems may or may not be the most important book of American poetry in the last 88 years, but when the next 88 years are up, I give it a good shot to be the most important first book in American poetry since Some Trees. I've been right a number of times before, even if no one seems to be listening. Sometimes lightning strikes a church tower and the whole town catches fire." Kent Johnson
"Am trying in a handful of sentences to write a blurb for John Beer's The Wasteland and Other Poems something that will describe the newness of the work and something that will praise the invention of it. Have been halfway tempted to simply steal a snippet from someone else's jacket and tailor it to suit J. B. If only it were that easy! Anything I find on the rack is too small. John Beer is a poet of big shoulders. You should have a feel for yourself." D. A. Powell
"John Beer's long overdue first book is a perfect mirror of a world that has borrowed more than it can ever repay. He embraces and distills 'the bad dream' and all 'the muck' of the recent past, but the momentum of this book is full speed ahead. Unflinching, unrepentant, soulful, brilliantly imagined and with eyes wide open, he is the poet of onwardness for the next century. If ever a book lives up to its title, this one does." Lewis Warsh
About the Author
John Beer's poems and criticism have appeared in DENVER QUARTERLY, Verse, Make, Chicago Review, The Canary, CROWD, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. He lives in Chicago, and works as a theater critic for Time Out Chicago.