Perfectbound paperback, ISBN: 978-0-9800081-5-9, 86 pages, $13.95
At the Threshold of Alchemy is a brutally realistic book of poetry. By immersing himself in the particular details of his most meaningful moments, John Amen transforms hurt into poems that are both imagistic & lyrically expressive. With metaphoric daring and offbeat grace, he guides us through haunting and sometimes violent memories of roving through America’s southland. Includes the major 260 line poem-sequence “Portraits of Mary,” hailed by poet Jared Smith as “perhaps the most complex, intricate, and thoroughly honest love poem in all of contemporary poetry.” Holding a compass below the stars, his surreal imagery unfolds like origami. A thoroughly human book of memorable poems of great intensity by one of our best younger poets.
“John Amen flexes verbal muscles in lively poems filled with metaphoric daring and offbeat grace. He guides us through a haunting and sometimes violent world as he draws mythological and Biblical references, entwined with wild memories of roving through America’s southland. There is a memorable and intense beauty in these poems, and their excitement deserves an attentive audience.” –Colette Inez
“At the Threshold of Alchemy is a brutally realistic book of poetry, hauled up from the despair of life’s pivotal moments. There are no wasted words or images, with each line cracking like a whip as John Amen distills the impacts of family left behind, lovers lost, open highways, and the sudden death of friends. Yet, unexpectedly, and as miraculously as life, these tragedies open as seeds into flowering and fruit-bearing vegetation, nourishment, and compassion. Immersed within the shadows of these plants and filled with their fragrance and promise is “Portraits of Mary,” perhaps the most complex, intricate, and thoroughly honest love poem in all of contemporary poetry.” —Jared Smith
“John Amen pursues a relentless path through memory and dreamscape, between mother and lover, holding a compass below the stars, his surreal imagery unfolding like origami into the complex narrative of a man’s life. A thoroughly human book.” —Dorianne Laux