Greetings from the Ether,
As part of our interview special with the renowned K. A. Opperman, we’re opening up with a review of the poet’s 2016 collection The Crimson Tome, published by Hippocampus Press. Opperman was the first poet we ever published, and is single-handedly responsible for Hinnom Magazine opening up for poetry. The next issue, which releases on November 1st, will feature, not one, not two, but three poems from the macabre maestro.
Without further ado, let’s delve into this wonderful collection!
I won’t pretend to be an expert on poetry, and the interesting thing is, regardless of my personal knowledge of the craft, I still enjoyed this collection more than many short fiction collections I’ve read in the past. There’s just something about Opperman’s control of the English language, his vision of the macabre and grotesque, that brings forth emotions that I didn’t think works of fiction could. K. A.’s method of melding erotica and horrific imagery within the same verse is breathtaking, and his ability to craft these scenes of depravity and lust, while maintaining a scope of horror, is one of the most magnificent things I’ve seen in quite some time.
The Crimson Tome is structured in sections, each part equally as satisfying as the next. The collection transforms from morbidly beautiful horror poems, to sensual, dark love songs, and eventually finds itself delving into the nature of Halloween, the seasons of change, and a bittersweet soliloquy from K. A. Opperman that seems to speak of rebirth. The range and beauty of this collection are as stunning as the mechanics of its language.
In the Land of Darkest Dreams, the horror is unleashed. As we move to pieces like “The Nocturnal Poet,” and “Halloween,” we find the deep-rooted passion in the poet, and his innermost love for the craft. Then we delve into the Nocturnal Lovers duet, where we see the most intimate aspects of Opperman’s fantasies and personality. Here, the deep set emotions truly come forth, in a mesmerizing plethora of poems that all build upon each other. This section of the collection feels as though we are dissecting the poet and peering inside of his brain and heart. The Palace of Phantasies follows next, where we are entrenched in further morose prose, each piece presenting new horrors and novel events. The collection then proceeds with Twilight Sorrow, a section where we see the changing and shifting of the seasons, the transformation of the earth and what wilts only to be born anew. There is a genuine sorrow in the language Opperman evokes, a longing for the festive season he loves so dearly. The collection then closes with tributes to various people that Opperman respects and even loves, including fellow poet Ashley Dioses, of whom many of these poems could be seen as love letters to.
It was fascinating to see a collection of poems organized in such a way, and just like with a novel, there is a rise, a climax, and closure. Each piece is expertly placed, and not a single word or stanza feels unnecessary. This is an opus of the poet’s work, a collection that likely was built upon hours and hours of hard work. With poetry, there isn’t as much wiggle room as with longer works of prose. Each sentence, and every phrase, needs to fit perfectly. Opperman does more than succeed in this notion, he perseveres against all odds and presents a tome (no pun intended) with enough force to knock any reader from their feet. There is a chilling quality, maybe even haunting, to Opperman’s collection, and it’s definitely not going to leave my thoughts for a long time.
K. A. Opperman has long been the Pumpkin King for many, and reading this collection, there’s no doubt why. Opperman is a masterclass artist, one who dares to take risks and comes out swinging with each stanza he births. I may not be the most adept reader of poetry (at least, not yet!), but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that everything I’ve heard of K. A. Opperman is true. There are few as talented as he, and as the Pumpkin King, he reigns supreme.
Thank you so much for stopping by! Make sure to snag a copy of Opperman’s collection, The Crimson Tome! And check out our Patreon, lots of cool rewards including subscriptions!