A book review of S.J. Fowler’s “Sticker Poems” review by Samuel Strathman

Sticker Poems by SJ Fowler

S.J. Fowler
STICKER POEMS
Trickhouse Press, 2021
Paperback, 126 pgs.

S.J. Fowler’s visual poetry collection, Sticker Poems (Trickhouse Press, 2021) is any childhood sticker fan’s dream.  The book is a compendium of our favorite stickers, as well as crafty new creations.  There are also many statements within the pages that are meant for humor as well as deeper thought.  A sticker book could not be a sticker book without repetition, but Fowler makes the repetition meaningful in the only way that a vispo (visual poetry) master can. 

The book has a lot of mixed media which helps to elevate the story told within its pages, and unlike his earlier book, Crayon Poems (Penteract Press, 2020) he keeps the mood light.  This is done through using bright visuals as well as different hypnotic mediums that help elevate his sticker world.  This would be considered an adult book by all accounts since there is cursing and violent language used in good fun, not to mention the grammatical errors which are not errors if they are done for creative purposes.  “for here. come I! to kiss arses” or “cuddliest & killingest…the great bear” being some of what is used.  These are short lines of text are oftentimes original as well as paying homage to many of the positive messages used in stickers.  “Make good use of Today” being one of them.  Many of the stickers like the menacing “Zero Medo” are rather menacing and add flavor and contrast to the child friendly stickers. 

Some of the new and exciting stickers that Fowler has created are new troll-like creatures, “Garbage Pail Kids,” colorful blot patterns, and other new and animal felt stickers.  Many of these images we would like to pick from the pages, and fortunately for us Fowler does allow us to take a few off the pages.

The trouble of being an amateur reviewer doing his second review is trying to decipher a storyline within “Stricker Poems.”  Visual poetry, like paintings or other artwork, is often more of a statement than a storyline to me.  After reading the essays by S.J. Fowler and David Spittle, I find that I have more questions and even less answers.  Besides using mixed media, drawings, and repetition I’m unsure as to the technique used here.  In the end, I rather not to try and evaluate the author’s school of thought.  It is better to sit back and enjoy the ride, and a wild one it is.  

Reviewer Bio

Samuel Strathman is a poet, visual artist, author, and custodian.  His poetry has appeared in Pulp Literature, I-70 Review, and Prole.  His debut poetry collection, “Omnishambles” is forthcoming with Ice Floe Press (2022).

Tanka/Haiku style poetry showcase from Samuel Stathman

brown and black wooden guitar and black leather bag

photo from Unsplash (Europeana)

1.

cartographer’s bone
picked with the equestrian
stampeding ensued
bicoastal defamation
rewrite historical maps

2.

in dull recesses
find the neon imago
mother’s milk to drink
reawaken unified
not god but cultured creature

3.

small wind instruments
tickling the widow’s ear
heady blandishments

4.

sky’s furrowed tendrils
lightening revives the dragon
exhumes vile bones
goliaths of an old tribe
discarded relics

5.

black air raising hairs
prickling the needle neck
red limbless ocean
eels traversing coastlines
Persephone on lookout

6.

rending of the sea
ghosts preying on destruction
aligned with their posts
islanders abandoning ships
swashbuckler’s bad omen

7.

grandiose ghazal
sultry arabian night
fiddler’s heaven
dripping wax overexcites
opium cloud dynasty

8.

meditative snowfall
unconscionable tension
cathartic release
noon hour crowds dissipating
solace behind coloured glass

9.

thrush’s old singsong
head north before nerves kick in
10.

plows in the distance
prizeworthy lineation
stones heaving in the mud

11.

galvanized breezeway
intimate pyrotechnics
bubbles among stars

12.

nightmarish dungeon
somnambulist skeletons
mourn finality
last rites for fallen angels
black flower necropolis

13.

ashram for your thoughts
yellow moths grow from tall grass
mood can be anchor
draw an ocean with a glance
smell the brine off flying fish 

14.

winged ritual
birds scaling belltowers
wind breaking current
gleam of passing vehicles
splitting the time barrier

15.

vermillion sluice
zombie rats lining spillways
deadbolted prey
eyeless momento mori
hail the bony chimera

16.

memorial park
widows placing spring flowers
dewy bloodshot eyes
groundskeeper whistling tunes
keys jangling on their ring


Bio: Samuel Strathman is a poet, author, visual artist, and educator.  He was also the editor-in-chief of Floodlight Editions.  Some of his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cobra Milk, I-70 Review, Prole, and other magazines and journals.  His debut poetry collection, "Omnishambles" is forthcoming with Ice Floe Press (2022).


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Samuel Strathman

Poetry by Samuel Strathman from Fevers of the Mind Anthologies

Poetry by Samuel Strathman from Fevers of the Mind Anthologies

Instability

keep the sound out
keep your hands to yourself
let me think on my own

loneliness does not
faze me at all
companionship is the
root of all my problems

wait for me to come to you
or else I will shatter at your feet

Going Backwards

today
caffeine lacks its usual potency
I am out of my body
a hollow chalky sound
bouncing off a long hallway
stumbling further and further from
where i belong
after you left
I fell into a sinkhole
where i started beating
myself up over losing you

Invisible Violins
for Krystal

 We listen to a song
 from a contemporary composer.

 She closes her eyes
 Fingering every note (in the air)

 I try to imagine
 Krystal's violin
 in her hands,
 but it doesn't come
 into full colour.

 Later, I conjure
 an image of Krystal
 with her fingers
 weaving along my spine -
 across my shoulders,
 forming wings.

 She's following
 a different melody now,
 wings unfurling, statuary.

 We can fly.

Emotional Barriers

Invisible walls got their name
because every time we think
we're breaking ground,
we pratfall
on our flummoxed asses.

Hang out with enough
emotionally unavailable people
and the falls
become abrasive,
impaled by boulders
in a lake
of fatalism.

Blind devotion
means hitting your head
on the way down.

Confessional

I still eat chocolate bars
and cake.

They fill me
to this day.
Faith catches me
with a left hook
on occasion,
and on those occasions
I'm glad I prebooked
a date with a pine box
Available plots
are becoming fewer
and far between,
land splitting six ways
from Sunday.

Bio from 2020
Samuel Strathman is a poet, author, educator, and the founder/editor-in-chief of Floodlight Editions. 
Some of his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in White Wall Review, Blank Spaces, Dreich Mag, and elsewhere.  His debut chapbook, "In Flocks of Three to Five" was published by Anstruther Press (2020) His second chapbook, "The Incubus" was published by Roaring Junior Press

	
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