Blitzkrieg, Poems by John Gosslee


The website dedicated to the extensive project is and contains video, review, interview and article links. John Gosslee’s second book, Blitzkrieg, covers a lot of territory, literally, from the Atlantic Ocean across the United States to the Pacific Ocean in prose and just as much ground figuratively in the thirteen poem sequence that begins the book. Blitzkrieg begins as a 13-poem sequence that progresses through a number of cities, symbolic locales and hauntingly provocative metaphors. The non-narrative style of the sequence was inspired by the life-changing poem “Portrait of an Inner Life.”

Dedicated to the growth of “Portrait of an Inner Life,” the second chapter of Blitzkrieg chronicles the poem’s painstaking creation, initial rejection, national publication and international acceptance. “Portrait of an Inner Life” eventually spawned a cross-country book tour and led to numerous other projects through which a community of artists and writers grew.

Because of the poem’s wide acceptance, the author felt it was important to re-envision how the poem could reach an even wider audience in other provocative ways. To exercise the art form of persona, a false identity was created to support the poem’s new mission; “Portrait of an Inner Life” was printed on 2000 stickers and posted in major cities throughout the United States by street teams managed by the persona. The poem was also placed in 100 bottles, set adrift in the ocean, and pitched into waterways until the bottles were almost confiscated by police in Texas. The conclusion of the second chapter features critical analyses of the poem written by NEA Award Winner Morri Creech, Rattle editor Timothy Green, and translator Steve Komarnyckyj.

Introduced by a four panel illustration of “Portrait of an Inner Life” by cartoonist Yumi Sakugawa, the third chapter features 25 pictures of the poem posted by street teams in Chicago, Los Angeles, Pheonix, Charlotte, New York and other cities. Photographs of the poem in a bottle taken by Brandon McCrea and three full size paintings of the poem by artist Scott Kirschner demonstrate how fine artists visualize the poem.

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