Exercises in High Treason by John. J. Trause
Since time immemorial, sacred texts have been approached with reverence. Whether it be the Dead Sea Scrolls, Shakespeare's sonnets or the Gettysburg Address, all have been analyzed with high-mindedness and a tight ass. John J. Trause's Exercises in High Treason has arrived to blow the hot air away with a fresh blast of inventiveness. Playfully reinterpreting and subverting the words of the mighty or even the most banal advertising copy, he has created poetry that is a brain teaser. A rib tickler. Like Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Guillaume Apollinaire, Trause adores rewiring the absurd and the lyrical. Are you ready to receive the translation?
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PRAISE FOR EXERCISES IN HIGH TREASON
Simultaneously funny and smart. —The Pedestal full review
Mordantly funny...The venerable William Carlos Williams takes some ribbing in this highly enjoyable book, with his famous red wheelbarrow morphing into a digital rectal thermometer. The good doctor surely knew rectal thermometers, but also surely didn’t live in the digital world. Poe gets a ribbing as well, with his raven rapping turning into a cockroach crapping. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous “How do I love thee” is lovingly reproduced here, but with the words removed, leaving only the punctuation...Exercises in High Treason is a whole book full of connections made to bring the world to bear. — At The Inkwell full review
Trause is the funniest poet since Kenneth Koch...this is a collection worth a reader's money. —Rain Taxi (Winter 2016, print edition)
Run for the Emergency Exits! John J. Trause writes poems of sanity in an insane world. —Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, ethnological poet, and star of the documentary film Language Matters
John J. Trause turns the very notion of translation on its head in a way that is anarchic, freeing, and resonant of a whole new kind of poetry. —Jennifer Blowdryer, author and frontwoman of the performance group Blowdryer Punk Soul
John J. Trause is one of the smartest writers I know; and one of the funniest, too. This should give you some idea of the emotional and intellectual spectrum his texts in Exercises in High Treason embrace. There's even a Shakespearean sonnet in Morse code, for god's sake! But like all humorists, there's an underlying seriousness afoot; Trause is "Making It New"—bringing these tropes into the present where they can work their magic again. This is a necessary book.—Ron Kolm, author of Divine Comedy and editor of the Evergreen Review
In Exercises in High Treason, John J. Trause is a poet stunt pilot—fearless as he explores a wide range of subjects and forms that demand courage and skill. He proves he has both. Trause is by turns outrageous, candid, academic, and irreverent—but always original. Exercises in High Treason is both challenging and dazzling. —Laura Boss, Editor of Lips and author of Arms: New and Selected Poems
How to redefine "Exercise"? You have to overstand that this dadaistic put-on commedia di poesia is indeed an "Ex" for us to err-and-cise in order to absorb the alphabetic physicalities offered as a playing field of translations and Translashtions. From the Italian he offers us "The Translator is a Traitor", and then proceeds to translate Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" as "I Get Up Yet", reminding me that when she was young she was over six feet tall. This Trause also comes off as a serious dude, with a multitude of acknowledgments as proof to his pudd-in.—Gerd Stern, author, artist, and co-founder of the international media arts collective USCO
JOHN J. TRAUSE, the Director of Oradell Public Library, is the author of Eye Candy for Andy (Finishing Line Press, 2013); Inside Out, Upside Down, and Round and Round (Nirala Publications, 2012); Seriously Serial (Poets Wear Prada, 2007; rev. ed. 2014); and Latter-Day Litany (Éditions élastiques, 1996), the latter staged Off-Off Broadway. His translations, poetry, and visual work appear internationally in numerous journals and anthologies, including the artists' periodical Crossings, the Dada journal Maintenant, the journal Offerta Speciale, the great weather for MEDIA anthologies It’s Animal but Merciful and I Let Go of the Stars in My Hand, and in Rabbit Ears (NYQ Books, 2015), the anthology of television poems. Marymark Press has published his visual poetry and art as broadsides and sheets. He has shared the stage with Steven Van Zandt, Anne Waldman, Karen Finley, and Jerome Rothenberg; the page with Lita Hornick, William Carlos Williams, Woody Allen, Ted Kooser, Victor Buono, and Pope John Paul II; and the cage with the Cumaean Sibyl, Ezra Pound, Hannibal Lector, Andrei Chikatilo, and George "The Animal" Steele. He is a founder of the William Carlos Williams Poetry Cooperative in Rutherford, N. J., and the former host and curator of its monthly reading series. For the sake of art, Mr. Trause hung naked for one whole month in the summer of 2007 on the Art Wall of the Bowery Poetry Club. He is fond of cunning acrostics and color-coded chiasmus.
John J. Trause, Exercises in High Treason
Publication date: April 11 2016
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Author photograph by Jill Greenberg