Jay Besemer reviews Ampersand Revisted by Simeon Berry

ARCoverFinalaNational Poetry Series 2013 selection
FENCE Books, 2015

Many recently-published books of poetry (and poem-like texts) seem to explore the location and formation of the self within some larger context. Simeon Berry’s debut collection Ampersand Revisited is one of these, and self-consciously so; David Wojahn’s back-cover endorsement pops the B-word (bildungsroman) to place this 2013 National Poetry Series winner firmly within the literary heritage of other (male) coming-of-age pieces. And Ampersand certainly is a poetic rendering of one young heterosexual male’s process of coming to terms with himself and his childhood as the product of two psychologically non-normative parents. Yet the real interest of the book lies in the choices Berry makes with the text, as opposed to within it. The book itself constantly asks the question of its own creation, somewhat like the narrator himself. This formal resonance is what gives Ampersand the power to inspire multiple reads. Continue reading