John Amen's strange theater takes the reader on a multifaceted journey, each poem a puzzle piece in a mysterious drama, a view onto a stage where dialogues and narratives shuffle and rotate, where characters improvise insights that blur the boundary between horror and the absurd. Offering a unique vision of contemporary life, Amen is a Virgil of sorts, navigating the unknown, plumbing the conscious and unconscious alike. Replete with compelling imagery and frequently shocking proclamations, strange theater imprints itself on the psyche, Amen's voice continuing to resound long after the final poem is read.
Take intelligence, imagination, insight, and sensitivity, add an accomplished poetic craft and lace liberally with surrealism, and you
have some sense of what entering John Amen's strange theater is like. Though often dedicated to specific individuals, these poems speak to the individual in all of us. Is Amen getting better with each book, or have I merely forgotten how brilliant he can be?
—Bruce Boston, author of Resonance Dark & Light
John Amen's poems strike a virtuosic balance between adrenaline rush and introspection as they explore the roles and routines that define and, at the same time, obscure who we are.
—Arlene Ang, author of Banned for Life
If words left trails like comet tails, John Amen's poetry would be connect-the-dot lightning bolts. How obvious it all is, he says, throwing knives at the infinite, if only we had the right glasses. I've never seen such absolute surety about doubt. File this one in "Uneasy Listening."
John Amen's incredible release, strange theater, is a perceptive, insightful commentary on the mystery hidden within the ordinary. The poet's voice is, by turns, ironic, humorous, pensive, and mournful. This collection is exquisite, a book to be savored and discussed and treasured.
—Maria Mazziotti Gillan, winner of the American Book Award