John Dorsey is a clumsy person. I’ve never met John Dorsey, but when he stumbles into the room, there is silence and whispers. I’ve never met John Dorsey but I know these things about John and what it’s like being in a room with him. I know enough to have read his “White Girl Problems.”
From Nightballet Press, Dorsey releases his 25th chapbook. And he stumbles. And it makes me laugh, and John smiles.
The design work for “White Girl Problems” is staple and humble, the back cover photo capturing this author’s aura perfectly from having read that work therein. A lot of the beginning poetry in Dorsey’s book comes off as too whimsical to be concretely understood or imagined:
“…your vagina is a metaphorical unicorn”
“leave bread crumbs for the sun”
It isn’t until I hit Iron City Independence Poem, the fourth in this collection, that I’ve ran smack dab into Dorsey, into that room, into having to have a conversation with him, seriously, about all of this.
John is incredibly capable of telling a story and entertaining, of making one laugh and yet feel a tinge of endearment. I felt the first two pieces (and the comic relief of Beard Haiku) were tests for John, for me, for the steps it takes to cross a room. Or even to understand a writing, a writer, a reader, a lifetime…
Dorsey’s enlightening voice in many of these poems and stories here lend heavily to a smile, to a laugh, and an understanding. From the holiday poem Christmas Cookies about family to a quote from The Patron Saint of The Copa Cabana:
“I was in 7th grade and school sucked. I didn’t even have any hair on my balls.”
Dorsey hits heavily on the human condition and, using a lot of satire and sarcasm, brings about that endearment full face. I found a number of examples throughout his work:
Strength In Numbers-Is love and loss the roll of dice and the role of luck at any given time?
Masculinity-As a man and aging adult myself, how does one measure the ghost and memory of old friends, of where they’ve been or become, aside from “growing” with them?
John uses a main character Felix as the narrator for a collection of four short stories at its end. Sadly, I really felt at least a couple of these could have used some more development. And I can see John backing away from me in that room, saying his regards and going home into the night. He bids me farewell.
The Patron Saint of The Copa Cabana is the only short story I felt that had been fully developed, though much of John’s work towards the end of this chapbook seemed like the beginnings of a longer endeavor, of a story collection or novella. And I wish him be safe, as he closes the room’s door behind him.
What you need to know about that man who just left the room you and I are in: you should go to the website and buy his book. This is a developing poetry, this is a prolific press (and man.) And a meaningful endeavor in both ways that you don’t find every day.