The Royal Nonesuch
The Royal Nonesuch (Spark Wheel Press, 2013)
Winner of the 2014 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry from Southern Illinois University!
In The Royal Nonesuch, Steven Schroeder shows the art of the scam—in gambling, cynicism, piracy, into the brink and out of love—but, like Mark Twain, he knows a trickster’s act plumbs the very real loneliness of modern society. Beneath this shield of doublespeak beats a wounded heart. In “Each One Goes Alone,” the speaker reflects “When you pick a new city for foliage and brick / in promotional photos, the baggage follows.” Working in the interstices of titles taken from literature, pop culture, even Nintendo, each poem jousts with our expectations. “I’ve Had a Perfectly Wonderful Evening” breaks down the code to “If by evening you mean overflowing crockpot,” while the poem “No Hope Except in Arms” announces “This fighter jet is part of a complete breakfast” and “This gun wants to tuck your kids into bed.” Don’t try to take on this smart, perverse collection all at once. Sample it like a neat gin; let it burn on the way down.
—Sandra Beasley, author of I Was the Jukebox & Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl
Steven D. Schroeder is a DJ and a pomo Sonneteer. His poems “swim the English/language.” Text lifted from literature and pop culture is sampled, recast. His riffing is catholic and quirky. Nirvana, Harryette Mullen, Laozi, and Patton Oswalt. His thirteen-line sonnets are sonic-rich, but most impressively, elastic. Black humor, tenderness, world-and-word weariness, capitalism, awe, our peculiar American moment are sampled, recast again and again. In these sonnets “cash makes you fun” and “summer fits in an ice chest.” Schroeder’s attentiveness to language is playful and thrilling.
—Eduardo C. Corral, author of Slow Lightning
In Steven D. Schroeder’s remarkable second book, The Royal Nonesuch, “Everything is falling up or sideways.” The miraculous cavorts in the attic while the endlessly possible rolls on and on in the dots of loaded dice. Ever present among the springs of Schroeder’s lyrical language play are the assemblages of his literary legacy. A line from a beloved book triggers a flirtation. A sentence blossoms into a map to stolen gold. And with the striking of a match, the gears of Steven D. Schroeder’s Rube Goldberg machine turn in their glass box. The lights blink and creaking wheels spool into beautiful sounds. The Royal Nonesuch is an exquisite joy.
—Oliver de la Paz, author of Requiem for the Orchard & Furious Lullaby
As fractured as our times, but critical of fracture, not simply agreeing to it, the poems of The Royal Nonesuch press against their own concerns. “You could hear we’re post-apocalyptic” the book begins, and even so, we continue our lives, our various concerns, common as theft (as all the titles of this book are “stolen”), but true as any other life. We need directions, both “how to” and “which way.” It’s an enjoyable read, even through all the disasters, all the chain stores and root canals Steven Schroeder takes us down, because at the center, this is a book that enjoys life. There’s a cleverness that sounds an awful lot like hope weaving though these poems, where just because “you can’t prevent this ragdoll fall,” doesn’t mean anyone here’s giving up. And just because we’re at “another false summit” doesn’t mean all summits are false. Or maybe it does. Maybe they both do. That’s part of the question too, as every assertion twists with its opposing force, and all final thoughts are simply another station along the way. “So we offered our testimonies to the best / of your recollection” Schroeder writes, but your recollection “pled the fifth / that hid behind the Pledge and Drano bottles.”
—John Gallaher, author of Map of the Folded World, editor of The Laurel Review
Torched Verse Ends
Torched Verse Ends (BlazeVox [books], 2009)
Buy the book signed by the author for $10 (includes shipping).
“These are the poems of a hooch-swilling layabout, shifty-eyed sneak thief, disagreeable cuss–in short, good work, but he scares my kids. That shaved head and Satanic goatee? The yelling about the government?”
—Aaron Anstett, author of Each Place the Body’s & No Accident
“The poems in Steven D. Schroeder’s debut collection are not for the faint of heart. I mean this as the most serious of warnings. Upon reading them, you may find yourself locked in a cloakroom with nothing but his pages and a musty parka between you. Even if you resist, you may still dream, nightly, of absconding to Times Square with the author, frolicking in the orange light and snapping pictures. Buy three copies: one for the bookshelf, one to hide under your pillow, and one to keep close to your body at all times.”
—Mary Biddinger, author of Prairie Fever, editor of Barn Owl Review
“The poems in Torched Verse Ends revel in the interconnections between humans and our place–real or imagined–in the world. So it is fitting that the poems shift locations with the personalities of the speaker. Some poems wisecrack their way through Matt Groening’s Springfield. Others speak to us from Robotland, in the ‘error error error’ of metallic vernacular. Still others employ more somber diction: Colorado as seen by forest firelight, the road somewhere in the flat between Colorado and Kansas. Regardless of place, Steve Schroeder’s poems move us forward toward the hills and rivers where the ‘Earth’s curve intensifies downhill.’ The poems keep us safe in their own geography.”
—Adrian Matejka, author of Mixology & The Devil’s Garden
“In Torched Verse Ends, Steven D. Schroeder pulls poetry out of its too-small boxes and scatters it all over the room. One poem imitates form, the next mocks mental health surveys, and the herky-jerky music mixes high diction and slang, pop culture and wordplay, solemn hymns to nature and geeky robotic laws. Why deny lines like ‘Nature is a MILF’ or ‘Artificial plants inhaled oxygen, exhaled chlorofluorocarbons’ or ‘Your lips could suck the gin from juniper’? Schroeder is a serious poet, whether the poem is sad, surreal, or just plain silly.”
—Richard Newman, author of Borrowed Towns, editor of River Styx
“Steven D. Schroeder is the best thing for poetry since tuberculosis. I urge you to purchase Torched Verse Ends.”
—Steven D. Schroeder, author of Torched Verse Ends
“Steven’s vocabulary is so extensive that I have to look up several words per sentence when reading his current poems.”