Review of "the castration of a minor god" by john compton (Ghost City Press, 2022)
by Samuel Strathman
john compton intersects religion, sexuality, and tenderness in his new poetry collection, "the castration of a minor god" (Ghost City Press, 2022). And for many, they will find this new book to be the author’s most prolific and intimate work to date.
Religious references can be found throughout the pages of the book, but they are of a personal nature. Fire and brimstone came to mind most because many of the poems involve the symbolisms of fire. Poems like “the root of fire” and “how to build a bonfire” refer to do with the mistreatment and wrongful killings of LGBTQ+ community. There are also references to Jesus and Judas in one poem that insinuates they had a relationship since they were both unmarried. The poem “mary” comes off like the Mother Mary at first but we see that “mary” is a real person in compton’s like who acts like an ill-equipped advisor to the author. compton’s response to “mary” is that he’ll “turn you away with heat” which are fighting words that will send a shiver up any reader’s spine. Another memorable warning from the author is “my anger should not be planted – it would kill your garden.”
Some of the more tender poems include “john” which is about his mother’s three-day struggle in hospital to birth him. The complications are delivered in stanzas that are the epitome of sensitive, and shed light on what has been a lifelong connection between mother and child, and how their bond is unbreaking. “josh” is a poem about compton’s husband, and how he lets the fire out of him like “a dragon, an animal.” These writings are a testament to the connections that anyone strives to have no matter how they identify.
To close this review, I will leave you with this quote of compton’s:
“the glimmer is another beginning, another struggle, some other lion.”
Samuel Strathman is a poet, visual artist, and author. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Stone Pacific, The Sprawl Mag, and Prole. His debut poetry collection, “Omnishambles” is forthcoming with Ice Floe Press.