John Repp | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

John Repp 

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In John Repp's second full-length collection, The Fertile Crescent, the past rear-ends the present, leaving the poet to sift the wreckage for whatever meaning he can find. It's work he doesn't relish. "I'm sick / of points," he says in one place, and in another, "I don't want to be in this poem. I want I killed, / but I can never die." But the man knows the duty consciousness thrusts upon him, and so he shoulders it from the time when his grandmother was a girlish immigrant through his own youth of dismal day jobs and dope to these bleak days listening to war news as he puts his son to bed. His language, as musical as it can be at times, often seems an inadequate tool for the job he's set himself, and the Zen Buddhist terms he drops throughout come across as easy shortcuts. But Repp never takes his eyes off the small pleasures and hard blows of the everyday world, and when writing about his dying mother in "My Father Did Not Help Liberate the Camps," he shows us real courage and a sort of victory as his father "saw the hundred-stitch arc on his true-love's skull..../ He held her and knew her beauty." Thu 1/6, 5:30 PM, Columbia College, Ferguson Theater, 600 S. Michigan, 312-344-8138.

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