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.
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).