Review of in which I take myself hostage (Erik John Fuhrer)

In the introduction to this collection, Erik John Fuhrer writes, “I wrote this book in the aftermath of a hospital visit.” This haunting collection followed. Bolstered by his partner’s (Kimberly Androlowicz) art, in which I take myself hostage explores a darker shade of existence and mental struggle in what proves to be an infectious book.

Bookended by poems titled “marshwound” and “my mind/ squids”, the project oozes a slipperiness that proves in character with its existential distress. On multiple occasions I found myself thinking the narrative-backing-voice could easily have leaped from the distressed pages of a Lovecraft story.

Following from his previous book not human enough for the census, Fuhrer again engages creative license in the distribution and conjunction of words. He often splits words, leaving spaces between syllables or conjoins them as in ‘marshwound’ or ‘willowmouth’. The technique lends a dark fantasy heft to the work and, while it could easily wear thin, he utilizes these unique enjambments at an appropriate clip such that they do not overstay their welcome.

And again similar to his first collection, the interplay between Androlowicz’s art and Fuhrer’s poetry make for an inseparable package. Certainly, pairing art with poetry is not new. But they are incorporated here with such care that their connective tissues mean neither the poetry nor the art could stand on its own and retain the same chilling impact.

The introduction proves instructive for how this synergy was accomplished in Androlowicz’s section: “The paintings are expressions of the poems, but it was important that the paintings were not visual explanations or figurative representations of the poems.” This decision to not merely reflect the poems back at the reader results in a kinetic energy between the creative modes that belies Newton’s laws. 

Conclusion

You may notice I have yet to quote any of the poetry. I refrain deliberately as any slice taken out of context would instantly cheapen the experience I hope many will imbibe by finding themselves a copy. From start to finish, in which I take myself hostage demands the reader cling on with both hands, read with a careful eye, and not be afraid to stare down a few ghosts. But if you engage this haunting, prescient work, you won’t have to look far to find the stars in its darkness. 


in which i take myself hostage is published by Spuyten Devil Press.

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