Skip to product information
1 of 2

My Store

Dark Souvenirs

Dark Souvenirs

Regular price $16.95 USD
Regular price Sale price $16.95 USD
Sale Sold out

John Amen’s Dark Souvenirs (2024) was prompted by the suicide of his uncle, Richard Sassoon. Amen seeks clarity around Sassoon’s death while expressing grief over the sudden and violent loss. The poems, however, quickly expand to include imaginative leaps, Amen diving into broader familial and cultural dynamics. In various poems, Amen recasts Sassoon as his brother, his son, a stranger he meets in random places, and a teacher who graced him and the world with a unique brand of wisdom, madness, and humor. Throughout his sixth collection, Amen navigates stunning imagery, memorable declarations, and language that shimmers with signature musicality.

This is a book that will remind you why you love poetry, a book that will make you start writing poetry. In the midst of a brother’s suicide, the brutality of heroin addiction, and friends lost to drugs, Amen writes tight, beautiful lines of regret: There are rooms I never leave/no matter how far I wander. These poems go deep, and then deeper, with an authentic voice that has seen so much, yet rises with hard-fought compassion: Who’s/beyond reloading, firing a prayer into the long night? When you read Dark Souvenirs, you’re reading the red fields, the red skies, the red heart of an inspiring poet.
—Jan Beatty, author of The Body Wars (University of Pittsburgh Press)

The “heart’s a lagging metronome.” Life is “tunnels in the skin.” When the poet’s brother shoots himself, the loss is heartbreaking. Despair seems to win, but hope emerges and Amen has come to terms with the past. Dark Souvenirs contains the most powerful imagery I’ve read in a long time. Amen has pulled himself out of hell into recovery and has taken us on the journey with him.
—Gloria Mindock, editor of Červená Barva Press, author of award-winning Ash

There are poets who have sleep-walked through their sugar years, or searched in vain for a devil only they could see, but do not quite have the words to explain it. And then there is John Amen. A poet attentive to the lessons that linger in the pulse and who turns the soil of experience, growing out of it the most lustrous poems. In this collection, a poet of intense and luminous purpose again invites us to “stumble through the mumblepatch, where the old house used to stand,” to gaze into the “white petals shimmering in the dark.” That’s an offer we can’t refuse.
—George Wallace, Writer in Residence, Walt Whitman Birthplace

View full details