Here are some comments about Barrett Warner’s books. Some were taken from reviews or emails, but one was just a text. Buy one of these books, and please comment (punching up or down) so he can fold it to the next book.
Why Is It So Hard to Kill You?
“Barrett Warner’s poems are characteristically a mixture of the Marx Brothers, Russell Edson and James Tate, with touches of Dorothy Parker and H.P. Lovecraft–which is to say they really aren’t like anyone else’s. I think they’re terrific fun to read and, for such entertainments, wise about both heart and head.” –Ed Ochester (Editor, Pitt Poetry Series)
“Those are wonderful poems. They are all next-level stuff and upstairs stuff and what we got down here we were happy with until he showed us that escalator and UP we all went.” –James Robison (The Illustrator)
“Barrett Warner’s ‘Dimension’ is a coming-of-age tale turned inside out, the hit-and-run love story of an unlikely couple on the skids. Their ill-fated affair is sketched with marvelous economy, style, and verve. Wise, playful, startling in its insight, this is a story made of remarkable sentences laid end to end.”–Jennifer Haigh (Heat and Light, News from Heaven, Faith, and more).
“Desire runs under Warner’s work–keeps buoying up the speaker right as he threatens to sink and drown: that longing to live in spite of forces inimical, that’s what makes his work sing, that dark humor of trying to stay alive inside a life that threatens every minute to slip away.”–Nicola Waldron (Bridport Prize).
“‘I Thought Pigeons Were Vegetarians’ floated to the top of my list, and my favorite moment was ‘Monogamy isn’t merciful.’ Poems that wander far from where the title leads me to believe I’ll end up are what I look for when reading, and that statement couldn’t have been further from what I expected to live in this poem. The line stands at the center as an odd declaration to imagine as the nucleus of the scene, and it’s the kind of statement that has the gravity to hold the rest of the poem in place. ”–Emily O’Neill (A Falling Knife Has No Handle)
“This book made me smash my head repeatedly into the sharp edge of my desk.” –Russel Swensen (The Magic Kingdom)
“My Friend Ken Harvey is hilarious, touching, lyric, simple, and stunning. Warner writes from an honest place between existentialism and a search for meaning. These poems are ekphrastic, biographical, minute in their reports of human interactions. Yet in another way they are staring up at the night sky and trying to truly grasp what we are seeing.” –Sivan Butler-Rotholz
“Barrett, did you even read the syllabus?” —Major Jackson (Roll Deep)
“What I liked most was the contortions Warner puts himself through in order to avoid himself when in fact, he is the contortion.” —Henri lePont (Death and Stuff)
“The way he connects one idea to another—almost always in surprising, wonderful ways.” —Denton Loving (Crimes Against Birds)
“Life may be labor, but Warner’s poems do not lose their openness to experiencing every moment. Why be merciful when time isn’t? He drinks the kerosene haunting a sleep that can’t always tell the difference between dreams and nightmares. These poems woke me up.” –Tracy Dimond (I Want Your Tan)
“Nostalgia and sentiment were dirty words in poetry until Barrett Warner’s My Friend Ken Harvey came on the scene. Warner shows us the many forms of love, how relationships can be measured as ‘not enough war, or too much war, in someone’s life,’ and how the simplest moments can be transcendent.” –Dakota Garilli (IDK Magazine)
“Neurotic striding toward an impossible ideal; these are poems for everyone.” —David Fenza.
“Warner’s poems in Why Is It So Hard to Kill You? describe moments in which the world breaks. Some of these moments are beautiful, some are tragic, and most are a combination of the two. But underneath the darkness of Warner’s world, there’s a joie de vivre. He embraces this darkness for what it is: reality. And to explore that, honestly, means he’s going to bump up against some joy, too. And in this collection, Warner has shared his true talent for cataloging the wonders of the world as he sees them; dead horses, disappointed lovers, missed opportunities, his dead or dying hand, but also the wonder of crows grieving their own dead, a grandmother’s wisdom, the way a heart can still catch fire.” —C. L. Bledsoe (Last Stand in Zombietown, Riceland)
“Barrett Warner edges toward the Tom Waits end of the spectrum. The poetry is wonderfully dark, almost in William Burroughs territory.”–Kevin Higgins (Song of Songs)
“In these earthy poems, there is nothing that is either obscure or pretentious, but there is what poetry wants–beauty and humanity. It’s a refreshing read, and afterwards, one wishes for a life even half as large as the one revealed here.” —Gary Blankenburg (Mr. Electric)
“These poems are memorable, funny, smart, and emotionally absorbing, and satisfying in their combination of honesty and restraint.” —April Ossmann (Anxious Music)