THE MAD RAMBLINGS OF A JOKER
By Brandon Dillon
Publisher: Paper Airplane Publishing
Pub Date: January 24, 2021
Pages: 156 pages
Categories: Poetry / Psychology / PTSD / Veteran Stories
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Poet Brandon Dillon makes his debut with The Mad Ramblings of a Joker, a brutally honest collection full of metaphor and vibrant imagery. His work covers topics such as PTSD, depression, and heartbreak, and softer moments of hope and reflective peace.
His poetry is deep and unforgettable, a beacon for a dark world that needs a friend to say, “I’ve been there. I understand.”
I had a mission when I picked up The Mad Ramblings of a Joker by Brandon Dillon. I have an online friend who is suffering from PTSD, and I wanted to get more insight on what she is experiencing. I didn’t expect to relate to anything within the slim book of poetry, but so much resonated with me. And I think that anyone, man or woman, ex-military or lifelong civilian, can relate to Dillon’s inner thoughts that he so graciously shares on the page.
You would be hard pressed to find someone who has never said one thing when they meant something completely different. A person who doesn’t deliberately hide their feelings because they know that the other person couldn’t handle them, would maybe sit through them uncomfortably, but then sneak away and never return. I think we have all, at one time or another, wondered about the point of this life and wished for something better, to be a better person.
For someone who rambles, Dillon has a delightful symmetry to his writing. Many of his poems have an opening that is echoed, either exactly or slightly altered, in the last stanza. Or a short line is repeated throughout with a different response – sort of like the congregational response part of a church service (but in reverse). Sometimes the poetry is more free form – whole paragraphs of ideas that are too large to be confined by stanzas. And although he flits between time and place, there is a flow from each poem to the next. It made me wonder if Dillon curated his collection before publishing or if this was the natural order they were written in whatever notebook he might have jotted them down in.
I like how open and honest the poems are. Not a shred of pretentiousness that I often detect in collections of poetry. Like the writer remembered all the rules of poetry from school and deliberately applied them while overusing a thesaurus at the same time. Dillon does none of those things and it is a breath of fresh air.
As someone who grew up Christian but now identifies more as a spiritual person who still has questions, I very much identified with the poem “Pointless.” This line in particular hit me hard, “What if I do not want to live forever; what if I do not want to be reborn?” The other poem that I felt a particularly strong connection with was “New Year, New Me.” The message that we shouldn’t make false promises to ourselves but “Instead, look back honestly on your year and build upon the success you have had, and learn from the mistakes you have made…”
While on the topic of mistakes, there were typos in this book that I feel like could have been avoided with some editing. I acknowledge that rambling might break the conventions of punctuation, but the typos and misspellings that are scattered throughout the pages were distracting. (The publisher has a revised version in the works now.)
I don’t keep much poetry on my bookshelf, but this book will definitely have a place in my collection. I have bookmarked several poems that I plan to share with my friend and other poems that I plan to reread and meditate on later. This is the sort of book that I know I will reference later for different seasons in my life or to share with someone else.
Brandon Dillon is an award-winning poet who writes from the soul about his life as a child born into poverty, his travels around the world as a U.S. Marine, love won and love lost, and the trauma that life brings. If you ask him his biggest accomplishments thus far, he will tell you they are the laughter and tears of the audience as he reads his words on the stage for them. He is amazed when people feel his emotion and in turn show him their emotion.
He has twice performed by invitation, reading his poetry at the FASOLT Fine Arts Expo, and has participated twice in “Color: Story,” a collaboration between poets and visual artists, winning first place in 2019. When he is not working or taking care of his two sons, Brandon frequents open mic readings for poetry and all genres of writing with the group Writespace and performs at open mic and slam poetry events with the group Write About Now, at times reading something he just wrote that day.
He is never far from his notebook, fitting his writing in between shifts at work, kids and homework, and sleeping. Brandon lives in Houston, Texas.
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Autographed copy of The Mad Ramblings of a Joker
+ leather journal (5.7” x 8.5”)
(US only. Ends midnight, CDT, April 26, 2021)
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