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James. H. Duncan, Mat Gould, & John Dorsey

James H. Duncan is a New York native, a former editor with Writer's Digest, and the founding editor of Hobo Camp Review, a literary magazine that celebrates the traveling word.


Volume 1 of the Dog On A Chain Press Lantern Lit series, including prominent voices of modern day contemporary poets emerging and existing amongst the extensive underground, poetry for the small wars of the subtle apocalypse. James H. Duncan, Mat Gould, and John Dorsey are included in this book with works of poem novella, a consistent grip of language and image, place and occurrence, along with resolve, restitution and even a stark slap of revolution...the hammering down of our own massacre, hand over hand, heart against heart, spirits erupted from the volcano itself.

– Beasley Barrenton

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Lantern Lit series Vol. 1

"real life shit"


Lantern Lit. Volume 1 is a cool little book. Here’s the format: poets James H. Duncan, Mat Gould, and John Dorsey each contribute chapbooks comprising the three sections of Lantern Lit.’s first outing. The result is remarkably consistent in terms of theme, style, and even form, though each poet offers a unique voice and perspective.

Duncan’s “The Darkest Bomb” serves as the first section of this anthology, and immediately sets a tone that will carry through the remainder of Lantern’s pages. Stylistic choice made in Duncan’s first poem carry through the other poets’ sections to some extent: a preference for the lower-case, sparse punctuation, breathless line-craft, and serve as hallmarks of the moment and the mode in which these poems are delivered.

“Seasick on 46th / …and then crossing Fifth Avenue as / big dollop raindrops hit the pavement like / face slaps falling from a seasick green / sky…”

These are urgent poems, which live resolutely in the modern landscape. There’s a quality of resilience about them, of vivacity in spite of urban decay— “those great whales full of bones / decaying with the sunlight in their guts”.

Mat Gould’s contributions to this volume inhabit the same epoch as Duncan’s and employ similar formal conventions. They sing a world in disrepair, but they sing in nonetheless. Gould’s are grateful poems, full of creation out of rubble: “and to think, all of this from wet dust”.

In “The Universe Itself Laments,” the introductory poem to Gould’s section, “the sky is full / full of whatever else there is / a gallery of pastel prints-”. Elsewhere, the poet reconnoiters the edges of his frame of reference, writing towards “lanterns / above / the sea / out / of reach”.

If Duncan and Gould’s sections survey a contemporary landscape through the lens of each poet’s essentia, Dorsey’s “Happy Hour Madrigals” “sing the gospel of real life shit” (to quote the publisher) through recollections of characters living real life shit. In poems named “Drunk John,” “Sarah,” and “Creepy Steve,” the poet reaches perhaps toward Gould’s lanterns above the sea. In a bout of booze-fueled poignancy, though, “…he just kept drinking / waiting for a happy hour / that never came.”

If you’re into sunsets, couplets, and grand allusions to heroes of Greek mythology, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you’re looking for “real life shit,” you’ll find all you need in Lantern Lit. volume 1. Reach out above the sea, sip warm beer, and read good poems. “Hang the hide,” indeed.

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