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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Recent Release: Scott Wozniak BUMRUSH THE FANTASY. Flying Wrench Press, 2015 (32 pages)

This poetry collection was self-published by the Southern Oregon resident Scott Wozniak and consists of 28 short free verse poems, which Wozniak terms in his index as ‘explosions’. The poetry is very raw and fledgling and is primarily confessional in style. Some of the poems previously appeared in the small press publications Flash Fiction Magazine, Midnight Lone Boutique and The Five-Two Poems on Crime. Common themes in the collection include, the search for identity, the empowering effect of writing poetry and the need to question and confront established ways of thinking.

(a broadsheet taken from the book- click on to enlarge. Reprinted with the poet's permission)

The word ‘bumrush’ has many connotations and I consulted the Urban Dictionary for the most accurate definition for the collection. I came up with: “To run full speed into something with reckless abandon & fervour, of someone who has nothing to lose.”

The title poem ‘Bumrush the Fantasy,’ the speaker, presumably Wozniak, appeals to readers to rush “mysterious corridors” to find the unexpected, where “eternal buried treasures/ impatiently await” to free their minds. The poem concludes:

recoil from drudgery,
discover the fantasies
that eternities clock
takes quickly away.

Before it’s too late.

In a recent interview, Wozniak says of the poem:

“It was a poem I’d written while I was exorcising some internal demons and battling monkeys that had been hitching a ride on my back for a while and preventing me from actually pursuing poetic endeavours.

It was a poem I wrote, threw in the stack and never looked at again until my wife found it and brought it to my attention.

Then as I reread it, it made total sense to use it for the book’s title since it speaks to the act of doing before it’s too late and how we can all become complacent in our lives and not pursue our dreams because of that loss of drive, hope, desire, unfettered possibility- whatever you want to call it. And in putting the book together, I was reclaiming all of those things after being in a bad place for a long time.”

(a broadsheet taken from the chap- reprinted with the poet's permission)

A strong motif in the collection is, on the surface, one of anarchy: to riot, to smash plate-glass windows, to piss in mail boxes. The cover illustration by Caroline Roose depicts a pack of monkey like humans tossing bricks against an unseen foe. The page numbers are encased in an old-fashioned petrol bomb. Asked recently if he was a revolutionary poet, Wozniak replied his stance was more metaphorical than political:

“Honesty, I don’t see myself as a revolutionary poet at all. I specifically don’t write about politics very often. The reason being is that there are plenty of writers out there more qualified than I. Plus I have a jaded view on the whole political system. I think it’s a complete sham that is so embedded in our way of life that it’s always going to be there and it’s always going to be a dirty, rotten system that needs to be burnt to the ground but never will be. I agree with the concept of Anarchy but think the human race is too messed up to pull it off successfully.

I tend to speak more about personal upheaval and burning the preconceived notions of ourselves and the lives we’ve been programmed to think we need to be living to the ground, so we are free to start fresh and attempt to live more fulfilling lives.”

In the poem ‘Single (sleeper) Cell Organism’ he explicitly suggests that his call to arms is purely literary:

I am a one man
sleeper cell
on a mission
with exploding

 It can be perhaps argued that Wozniak has bumrushed the publication of this book as it is poorly edited and features a couple of dozen glaring errors. Wozniak craftily says of this:

“Originally, I had every intention of getting it edited and polished up, but the more I looked at it, I felt like, you know what, this needs to be a tad raw if I’m truly going to convey the feelings I felt while working on it. I had this restless urgency pushing me to get it out there and I personally felt that would come across better if it weren’t flawless. 

Plus I’ve always liked things a tad rough around the edges- the people I surround myself with, the music I listen to, the bars I frequented, everything…I find beauty in imperfection. And if this was going to be an exposure of who I am, it had to be messy. If people don’t get that and they see it as a hack job, so be it.”

This is a raw, brave effort by Wozniak to get poetry out on the streets, especially as he writes about his seven year-old son in the poem ‘Don’t You Know I’m A Fucking Star’:

does he know
the majority
of the world
could give
a fuck less
about poetry,
and even less