Death Tells Me JokesAbout the Book:

John Mitchel’s Death Tells Me Jokes heralds not just the arrival of another great book of verse but a completely new voice in American poetry. Once you begin reading, you will be so enthralled and astonished by its outlook and its lyricism that you will not be able to stop. This is fatalism with a sense of humor, sarcasm with a soft heart, self-reproach leavened by the memory of beauty. To open Death Tells Me Jokes is to enter a terrain of mournful lilies and bad bouncers, of flashing beta fish and burnt out Hiroshima, of graceful tombstones and graffiti written on asylum walls. Between the spaces of these poems death lingers in stiletto heels, and it’s always 5 am, but it is exactly then that Mitchel can muse most gorgeously not just about a cockroach in his sink or the virtue of a cheap cigar but about loss and grace and even faith, where he can think to say, “If God exists hate / is nothing but the reflection / love sees in the rain / water.” —John Vanderslice, University of Central Arkansas, Author of Island Fog

John Mitchel and his poetry have arisen from the depths of hell to slap us in our communal face and say, “Hey, do you really wanna read that same old crap?” His poems remind us that verse can still be colorful, alive, in your grille, and burning with what’s really real. Both humorous and bilious at the same time, Mitchel’s action-packed spelunkings into our psychic clashings are a welcome burst of what’s been lacking in his generation’s lame and lazy literary spleen—so keep this and burn the rest! —Mark Spitzer, author of Crypto-Arkansas

What strikes me most about John Mitchel’s debut collection Death Tells Me Jokes is its precise attention to seemingly paradoxical or ironic statements, statements that both invite and exclude readers from an emotional connection, that wonder about the author and speaker and subject matter, that observe, exactly, the dismissable and everday, the go-between, the “crushed/ soda cans thrown from a window,“ or “the lily in your clenched fist.” There’s a vulnerable, gutteral, and ugly nature to Death Tells Me Jokes, evident even in the front matter’s dedication to “enemies, friends, and family.”—Stacy Kidd, author of Red House Over Yonder