The Obvious Poems and The Worthless Poems

James Berger
Spuyten Duyvil Publishing
November 2022

The Obvious Poems and The Worthless Poems is a title that smacks you upside the head. So it’s worthwhile to state the obvious: James Berger may have divided his latest book into two sections—the first of politically and socially aware poems, intensely alive to the accelerating disintegration of social, ecological, and ethical order in the world around us, often descending into incandescent (and wholly understandable) rage, the second of wordplay, formal experimentation, and wonderfully acute, often tender quotidien observation; but his obviousnesses are far too profound to be merely obvious, and what he calls “worthless” is worthless only by the standards of hedge fund managers and petrochemical investors. Once upon a time, Horace said something about poetry being for “instruction and delight”: Berger’s still working that vein, loading every rift with ore.