This book contains poetry for the people, a return to the days when poetry truly mattered, when bards spoke to the masses in rhythm and rhyme to share important life lessons. Poetry was profoundly important and entertaining then, and it is in this book as well.
These poems are tightly structured. They display a patterned symmetry and flow leading logically and inexorably to teachable moments, usually captured by powerful poetic punchlines. Meter, rhythm, and pace render them eminently readable, lyrical, even musical. All poems have tight and creative rhyming patterns. Diction and syntax reflect meticulous wordsmithing with word choices, phrasing, and figurative language thoughtfully employed throughout.
The book also offers rare and private insights into the mind of the poet, and into the creative process itself. General writing approach, style, and techniques, as well as the story and circumstances behind each individual poem, are shared in intimate detail. Understanding what the poet was thinking, why he approached each poem as he did, and what poetic techniques he employed, all enable the reader to better understand, appreciate, and enjoy the poetry.
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Overall Opinion: 5 (Out of Maximum 5)
Life happens for everyone, and everyone evolves at some stage in their lives. Bard Bart: Poetic Rhymes and Punchlines (Poems with Notes) by Barton Johnson is a collection of insightful writings that take readers into the poet’s mind and thinking process. The poems are based on life, its realities, and human emotions and perspectives. While some poems are positive and hopeful, others are dark and disturbing, making the poet’s words tangible. The poems capture the poet's approach to life and the structured style, meter, pace, and rhythm. The introduction to each poem gives an idea of what is in the poet’s mind and his writing style, diction, word choices, and creativity make this collection engaging and appealing.
This is a collection for all poetry lovers who enjoy reading about life and emotion in a cryptic yet aesthetic manner, and it also gives them the freedom to interpret a writer’s inner thoughts in a way they think is apt. By giving notes for each poem, the poet develops a sort of intimacy with readers that enables them to understand and appreciate the poet and his feelings. ‘Lucky’ is a poem that will make readers grateful and appreciate what they have in their lives, and it is a poem that will give a reality check. I also like ‘Labels’ a lot as it tells everyone how unimportant labels are in one’s life. All the poems are personal, intelligent, and artistic, yet have their own charm and message for readers that will inspire and motivate them to look at life with a diﬀerent perspective.
Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Overall Opinion: 5 (Out of Maximum 5)
Bard Bart: Poetic Rhymes and Punchlines is an inspirational book of prose and poetry written by Barton Johnson. Each of the structured verses carries with it its own instruction and explanation in background, allowing the reader to see inside the mind of the poet as it is read. Diﬀerent aspects of Barton’s life are put on display through rhyme in heartfelt words, enabling each portrayal of wisdom and life experience to immerse the reader in a myriad of emotions, as it thrusts them back into memories of their own which have been forgotten for a very long time. I am absolutely soaked through mentally at the moment, with a tidal wave of memories ﬂooding my mind as I ponder each verse before me. The imagery created was like an incredibly visual rollercoaster of life, with each turn bringing a signiﬁcant piece of my own history to mind. One particular poem, titled Trophies, puts on display some of the many accomplishments that Barton Johnson has achieved during his lifetime which brings with it pride and happiness, as well as ruefulness and regret, from the past into the present. My Epitaph also gripped my attention, causing me to carefully think about how I would like to be presented on my tombstone after I have crossed over - it is something that I think of often. Each of the poems is beautifully structured, well-written, and shows how incredibly gifted Barton Johnson is in the art of poetry. I wholeheartedly recommend Bard Bart: Poetic Rhymes and Punchlines to all lovers of clever linguistics, causing them to smile as they take a walk down Memory Lane.
Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite
Overall Opinion: 5 (Out of Maximum 5)
Bard Bart: Poetic Rhymes and Punchlines by Barton Johnson is a collection of poems on life in general and musings by Barton. Bard Bart is one of those rare poetry collections these days that actually pays attention to things like rhythm, meter, etc. and the technical craft of poetry itself. The poems are based on life, love, death, suicide, sex and romance, and even some philosophical musings—in short, they are a collection of the thoughts and reﬂections of Barton on life itself. Each poem is preceded by a short note that gives some background information about the poem, where it came from and how it came to be written—in short, its inspiration. I thought Bard Bart: Poetic Rhymes and Punchlines by Barton Johnson was a refreshing poetry collection that is not only well crafted but also enjoyable. I feel there are too many poems and poets these days that have no idea what a poem is or how it is meant to be composed. Hence, it is a pleasure to read “real” poems that follow the rules of poetry. Barton is a good poet and I liked some poems more than others—the one called “Recluse” is probably my favorite. A lot of thought and care has gone into this book as is obvious from the contents. I also appreciated reading a little bit about where each poem was coming from and the inﬂuences on Barton’s personal life that inspired it. This is a great book for all genuine poetry lovers.
Believing that those who appreciate an artist’s work invariably question the motivations behind it, Barton Johnson offers a collection of poems, each accompanied by a brief explanation of its origin.
The collection has a distinct progression. Johnson begins with the braggadocio of youthful impulse, progresses to a self-appraisal of the emotional dynamics behind the action, then fades to lamenting loss of vigor and contemplating death.
So, for example, initially Johnson joyfully celebrates “Trophies”:
Fish caught, toys bought,
Rivers rafted, never drafted,
Slopes schussed, buttons pushed
Wilderness treks, car wrecks,
mountains climbed, poems rhymed.
But later, the more mature, philosophical wordsmith begs, “Take Me God” and postulates his “Legacy”:
If I leave my words behind,
Will I have my name enshrined?
In his lengthy introduction, Johnson explains that all his poems are structured with metered stanzas and rhyme, and often start with a punch line, building on “twin lenses of humor and irony.” Rhyming can give poetry a childlike cadence, and that is the case at times here as well, as the poems have an accessibility not always found in modern poetry, yet the wordplay is by no means rudimentary. The background material provided for each poem is elucidating, but some readers might rather guess at the meaning, or simply enjoy the poet’s words for their own sake. As art is up for interpretation, these explanations are not always necessary.
On their own, these are well-constructed and subtly humorous poems that read almost like a memoir, with relatable and recognizable imagery."
Reviewed by Michael Radonfor - The US Review of Books
Part of the allure of poetry is that it allows authors to present the unseen and create an emotional bond between artist and audience. The author of this collection of structured poems takes things a step further, providing notes for the reader explaining inspiration, outlining the rhyming schemes used and describing the creative process as to how some of these works came to be. Sometimes funny, sometimes gloomy, but always clever, the author approaches topics of the heart, dealing with aging and death, interpreting dreams, and even some modern social and political issues. Having the author's own analysis paired with every single poem provides deeper insight and understanding, while still leaving room for interpretation. With around seventy poems to choose from, readers can admire these selections for their message, their careful construction, or both.
In his introduction, the author states his preference for tightly structured poetry, and it shows in his work. The kind of structure he employs changes from poem to poem, keeping things lively and interesting for the reader. The inclusion of notes before every poem is a great touch that helps to explain some of the ambiguities of poetry and paint a clearer picture of what he intended to get across. Though the book is loosely organized by different subjects and emotions, there is also two indices at the end: one in alphabetical, titular order, and an interesting one that organizes the poems by their opening line, making it easy to quickly share with others something that struck a chord. Written in order to speak to people commonly but present the artistry and emotion of poetry, the language is deliberate but not indecipherable. This book is a charming, witty ride through the author's point of view, entertaining and inspiring along every stop!
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NABE Fall 2017
Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner
Best Book in the Category of POETRY
Bard Bart: Poetic Rhymes and Punchlines