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‘An Abridged History of American Violence’ captures the meta-violence of America

To write a poem that packs power is to distill a book of ideas into a thought conjured into being through few words. Those words just have to stir the primal within and provide vision.

Gary Reddin’s new chapbook of poetry, “An Abridged History of American Violence” captures that promise skillfully. Also a reporter, non-fiction and fiction writer, he takes storytelling skills from those different toolboxes and distills them to connect the collection’s theme.

Inspired following the suicide of his high-school friend “James,” the essence of the lost “brother” comes to life in many of the small stories contained. More through essence than ideal, the American violence invoked is layered. Be it in the physical world or within the mental plane, violence is one hand in hand with American life since its inception.

A millennial’s perspective shrouds “The Church of September” much like that of Shurin. You see your truth in its lines but the revelation reveals itself explicitly. Post 9/11, we are all transformed, for better or worse, from its violence.

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