“Dancing in the boneyard / He is the man in the bunny / suit waving from the side / of the road.” These lines from a poem in Mark Berriman’s new collection, That Turned Ugly Fast, might well describe the poet himself. He twirls his subjects out and around in jitterbug language, taking on everything from corn syrup to the zipper merge. Sometimes he makes you laugh; sometimes he makes you cry. You won’t be bored, and don’t worry: it will be over too soon—almost before you know it.
–Joyce Sutphen, Poet Laureate, State of Minnesota
“Berriman writes without pretension or artifice. He calls ’em as he sees ’em, and his poetry, like a cleaver, doesn’t just cut to the bone, it cuts right through it. This book traverses an array of subjects from trickle-down economics to sock folding, from Christ jamming Black Sabbath to Marcie going down on Peppermint Pattie. Berriman can be touching or raunchy, contemplative or pissed off, tender or violent. Read these poems and “taste his brain.”
— Matt Rasmussen, author of Black Aperture winner of the 2012 Walt Whitman Award, 2013 National Book Award Finalist
“Berriman is a poet with an attitude or, more accurately, a poet with several attitudes. When it comes to the misuse of power, he may rage on like an early Ginsberg tinged with a hint of Dylan Thomas, but other poems yield to fantasy, and a strong attachment to family frequently dominates his thinking. This is a collection that will keep its readers on edge, although not always comfortably so. There is much to think about here, and many readers will go away puzzling over things that might be done to make our world a better place.
— Bill McDonald, author of Dakota Incarnate
“KINK IN THE CHAIN is a poetry collection so powerful and vivid — yet subtle in all the right places — that I read it straight through in one sitting. Berriman’s sharp eye, sense of humor, and emotional honesty
make this one of the best poetry collections I’ve read since Nickole Brown’s SISTER.”
— Laurie Lindeen, author of the memoir PETAL PUSHER
“While too much life passes without any acknowledgement of the exaltation that makes it worth slogging through, Kink in the Chain is a feast of blood, sex, and work — and imprisonment of all sorts — that makes mini-miracles out of minutia. Poetry this frank and funny “cuts you up,” as Berriman puts it, and his in particular leaves lasting scars on the hung-over stubble of our souls.”
— Jim Walsh, columnist, songwriter, and author of The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting: An Oral History
“Every scar hides a story,” Mark Berriman tells us, and Kink in the Chain reveals his scars in their various beauties: of loves hard fought and won, of regret for battles not met, of the damage done by and to an unforgiving natural and political landscape. A poet both humble and bold, Berriman appeals to the reader by swagger and supplication. “Are you a handful?” a lover asks in one poem; in this engaging collection, Berriman captures the complex brew of pride and penitence in answering, always, yes.” — Kate Lynn Hibbard, author of Sweet Weight and Sleeping Upside Down.
There are times, when reading these poems, where one will slip through some sudden, invisible opening, and for a brief and blissful moment free fall inside the human soul. –TD Mischke, Minnesota writer, musician, and radio talk show host.
Berriman’s poems are straight-talking us right from the title: Brutally Frank . . . Damn right they are, and stylistically they fall somewhere between Bukowski and Ginsberg and, in the short ones maybe myself. I read the whole damn book in a sitting, and I like that he writes fearlessly, unflinchingly, pulling no punches, and eliminating any purely connective punctuation or parts of speech: the last two lines of “Sam Shepard” are pure perfection. “Cinematographers” and “Where Will I Wear It?” are classics. The book could as easily have been titled simply Here’s What I Have To Say, and what he has to say is well said and well worth your time and money. –Gerald Locklin, author of Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet and The Vampires Saved America
These extraordinary poems give us a good look at every aspect of life as we know it, with all of its beauty and human frailty exposed. Hilarious heartwarming poems, and some that may break your heart, each with a wonderful power all its own. –Carol Connolly, Saint Paul Poet Laureate