Etched Press

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how we liberated what secrets we modified by john compton

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how we liberated what secrets we modified by john compton is a chapbook-length collection of poems.

ISBN: 978-1-93584-717-5

how we liberated what secrets we modified is a book of the body and of the mind. john compton writes in a loose but raw style with poems that show “lust drips tenderly like a sadistic flower.” Across 17 poems, readers witness the force of an insatiable imagination meeting an immovable resolve. These poems make the page tremble like aftershocks of an earthquake. how we liberated what secrets we modified is erotic, filled with the remnants of desire and betrayal. This is poetry where even “the birds, keep plague / pollinate the air. / each toxic breath / determines / a second-guessed inhale.” Be prepared for a journey through a beautiful world where "birds, devastated refugees, / scratch across the sky / longing to find a home."

“how we liberated what secrets we modified is full of frank, aching particulars, the terror “nonconsensual,” even the birds “devastated refugees.” john compton’s cutting lines disclose as much as they contradict: “i don’t want to die / yet living isn’t enough.” This is a sensual, brash book of the mathematics of oblivion—and compton reminds us that our number is up.”

Randall Mann, author of A Better Life (2021).

“how we liberated what secrets we modified is a book of solar flares that perturb + disturb the standard signals of love, death, sickness, lust, & trauma. In these poems, john compton explores the many ways "distance becomes an orbit / while air fluctuates." This is the miasmatic air of Baudelaire's city as much as it is Stefan George's air of another planet, or the wind we can almost hear rattling in the background while John Wieners writes in his "A Poem for Trapped Things": "Gasping for breath. / Living for the instant." The poet's breath is held in & let go, "a singular / bubble within a spectrum / of time continuously writing" new queer histories that disseminate by word of mouth, on bathroom walls, or "scratch[ed] across the sky". Every corner of the universe where desire may hope to go, john compton has already been. We're just lucky he left us a trail.”

Tom Snarsky, author of Light-Up Swan

“In john compton’s dark and insatiable imagination, our bodies turn to bones and dirt, the mind becomes a one-eyed lighthouse, an IV figured as a marionette’s strings. Like the visual art of their patron saint Salvador Dali, these poems distort experience into something mesmerizing and grotesque. Elegiac, aching, innocent, unforgettable, compton’s poems are fearless, even as “the air beats down. // the air beats us down.”

Richie Hofmann, A Hundred Lovers: Poems

john compton (b. 1987) is a gay poet who lives in kentucky with his husband josh and their dogs and cats. He is the author of two full-length collections trainride elsewhere (Pressed Wafer, 2016) and the castration of a minor god (Ghost City Press, 2022) as well as ten chapbooks, including a child growing wild inside the mothering womb (Ghost City Press, 2020), i saw god cooking children / paint their bones (Blood Pudding Press 2020), and the forthcoming melancholy arcadia (Small Harbor Press, May 2024) and blacked out borderland from an exponential crisis (Ethel Zine and Micro Press, Sep 2023). His pdf chapbook the skies fell revelations is free when you purchase his full length poetry book from Ghost City Press. He has been nominated for three pushcart prizes and published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

john compton author photo

john compton


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