A Review of Giving Godhead by Dylan Krieger

Dylan Krieger breaks through the opening gate with “in media rape,” saying “the wonder is I choke up—an avalanche of first-world excess—first thing every morning,” and it’s an immediate reminder of how sick we all say we've become of this modern excess, digital excess, political excess, sexual excess, everything excess, and yet every morning we reach for more. We’re all guilty of it in some way, and Krieger doesn’t hold back exploring her own world of cauterized sins, and in the process showing us our own too.

And “excess” certainly describes Krieger’s poetry. It floods the page with kaleidoscope verbiage and raw splendor, saturated with digital-age codifiers of sexual exploration and exhaustion, showing how we want and want a break from the want at the same time. It’s awful. We take more. It’s forced on us. It’s fire. We burn. We all burn.   

The poems are prayers for the strung-out, who whisper for some god somewhere anywhere to please fucking slow things down so we can catch our breath, but then the next poem is there racing full speed down the page, screaming side-eye at the excuses for “forced consent” that give some people a free pass through life; howling religious hymnals sanctified by its own deviant wanderings; Christ-filled rape dreams and sanctified amputations of limb and soul, tongue-in-cheek but viciously serious all the same.

In some poems I’m tempted to say there’s excess and edge for the sake of shock, and there are certainly lines written with the intention of unsettling and upsetting any reader, but the more I read the more I got the feeling that through the spinning Catherine wheels of stagecraft there are deadly invocations of all our sins brought to light, a seriousness many might overlook, an anger simmering behind the word-craft wrestling with the kind of lust, lies, and alarm that we don’t talk about openly. It’s not proper. It’s not right. It’s exactly what Krieger displays with sweeping Jackson Pollock splatterings of everything we should/shouldn't discuss—sex, and all the heavens and hells that come along with it, all the putrid guilt, shame, hate, and gutting desire.

As she says in “animal crown,” “such thorny stories tend to shift like organs. but the most important portion is the cruci-coma squirming out my wormhole. what happens after is a rarefied disaster-gasm.” In her own words, a perfect summation of the collection and style—a disaster-gasm of the kind of poetry you don’t take home to mother, unless you’re done fucking around and keeping your sexual wounds behind closed doors. Krieger is clearly knocking on that door, ready to walk inside in full regalia.


Giving Godhead is available from Delete Press.

- James H Duncan


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