If you’re like me, you have a soft spot for poets who also love fiction and Bob Dylan. Enter, Justin Hamm. Justin recently published his first book of poems, Lessons in Ruin (Aldrich Press), which was preceded by two chapbooks, Illinois, My Apologies and The Everyday Parade/Alone with Turntable, Old Records.
Justin’s work reminds me of poet/novelist/farmer Wendell Berry, in that it has a distinctly Midwestern flavor, a wit born of pastures and plow-blades, not to mention a sense of wisdom and introspection bolstered by (but not constricted to) small town life. Put another way, the rural Iowan in me gets where he’s coming from.
But even if I didn’t have the background I did, Justin’s submission still would have hooked my attention because here’s someone whose knack with language transcends the geographical lottery of birth. There’s a stark quality to his poems that decries the shifting snobbery of poetic fashion and speaks instead to something deep, universal, and honest.
The man in line at the grocery store in Centralia, Missouri
I Take Forty-Five Minutes to Shoot a Portrait of My Father