A Necessary Explosion

Collected Poems

Poetry - General
152 Pages
Reviewed on 07/13/2021
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Author Biography

Dan Burns is the author of seven books, including the novels A Fine Line and Recalled to Life, and the short story collections Grace: Stories and a Novella and No Turning Back: Stories. He is also an award-winning writer of stories for the screen and stage. A Necessary Explosion: Collected Poems is his first poetry collection, fifteen years in the making.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite

No literary genre can reach the heart of a reader with the same intensity as poetry, and if the poet is as inspired as Dan Burns, the result is outstanding. Already an established writer, Burns presents A Necessary Explosion, his first poetic collection, which originated from his need to write down the thoughts that crowd his mind. Gathering poems written over a span of 15 years, A Necessary Explosion is a must-read for anyone who looks for long and short poems that deal with a variety of themes such as love, music, and life. The result is one of the finest collections that lovers of poetry can find.

A Necessary Explosion is one of those poetic collections that speaks directly to the reader's heart. I felt as if the poet was talking to me as I read many of the poems. At times, I even thought that I, too, had thoughts similar to those expressed by Burns through his words. I liked how he managed to create impressive poems from common episodes of everyday life, thus transfiguring the reality we all know. I also enjoyed the longer poems, especially for their stories and the themes they develop. As a first poem collection, A Necessary Explosion made a more than positive impression on me, and I admit I had a very good time reading it. I hope I will read more of Burns' poems in the future, and in the meanwhile, I recommend this collection to every lover of poetry.

Asher Syed

A Necessary Explosion by Dan Burns is a collection of original poetry in which the title of the book honors a quote by famed author Ray Bradbury. It explains the daily destruction and rebuilding in pursuit of creativity amidst the chaos. Burns achieves this through the use of multiple themes: from parallels between the skip of a rock across the water and the ripples that replicate life in the poem Concentric Circles, to the journey a person built on hope and vague familiarity as he searches for the history that shaped him in A Call from Home. Several pieces have illustrations by Daniele Serra whose sketches in black and white are sprinkled sporadically throughout the book.

Dan Burns has the gift and puts it to good use in A Necessary Explosion. Primarily free verse, the poetry has intentional, articulate verses with a lyrical quality to them. A lot of the poetry that crosses my path loses touch with the classic compositions that tell a story. In contrast, Burns chooses to secure his writing on this bedrock, and the results are excellent. My favorite is the piece called Madness, wherein a man who is descending into delirium desperately tries to grab onto the last straws of sanity before being swallowed up whole. What I found particularly clever about this poem is that Burns writes, "Images not what they appear to be." In a twist of intelligent irony, it is one of the pieces with Daniele Serra's illustrations, adding depth to a body of work that is already soaking in it. Overall, this book is outstanding, with a lot to offer readers who appreciate exceptional poetry.

Jacob R LaMar

A Necessary Explosion is a 178-page collection of poetry by Dan Burns. The term stated in the title refers to a daily act Burns performs to oust the stories that fill his mind. The concept infers that by doing this, he is making room for other ideas and inspirations to enter. This concept is particularly strong in my opinion as it reinforces the habits I believe in and execute personally. If readers get nothing else from this collection, I hope they can take away a habit held by many great writers worldwide; to capture their inspiration before it fizzles into nothingness.

From the very first piece and beyond, the author makes it clear that there will be an abundant amount of metaphorical language in use, and throughout the collection, those were the strongest points. I delighted in the way Burns transitions from one metaphor to another so subtly in the midst of his writing, and I found each one to be well fitted to the message. This made the writing complex and accessible at the same time which is a tough thing to achieve. Of course, each piece is different, with some of the work being written with a rhythmic feel to it, and the others being composed in prose. I personally lean more toward more traditional poetry, but I could see A Necessary Explosion becoming a favorite of many different types of readers due to its skill level and broad scope. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to poetry lovers in the adult age range. I thank the author for the opportunity to read and review this project and wish him the best with all his future writing.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

“I believe/ it is possible to/ say something meaningful/ when words are not actually/ coming out of your mouth.” (Silent Words) Messages are shared, transmitted, in many different ways: through facial expressions, nonverbal sounds and sighs, the written word, dance, music, even a painting, a photograph, or a silent movie from the past: “gaze into the realm of/ oil paint on canvas, where/ words and the meaning of life are/ conveyed through the megaphone that is/ the artist’s paintbrush.” (Silent Words) I love this reference to the artist’s paintbrush as a megaphone, for isn’t all that is creatively produced not a means of expression?

Dan Burns book, A Necessary Explosion: Collected Poems, is a poignant look at life, past, present and future. His words speak volumes in expressive metaphors, similes, and comparative nuances on what it means to be alive. The collection includes free verse, narrative verse, and multiple modes of word manipulation, expounding on the many meanings of a single word in the English language. He delves into his life as memories float like shattered glass, only remnants flitter about in isolated fragments, reflecting on times past: “Memory is at best a shattered glass,/ the shards strewn across the floor.” (Afterimage) Each poem stands uniquely on its own, the poem itself a piece of this mirage of shattered glass. The poet covers everything that defines life, his life: love, family, writing, music, travel, history and, yes, the future of humanity (if it’s possible to believe there is a potential future).

Each poem is a metaphor in itself, portraying the importance of each individual human to be able to express themselves in some form. And, in the end, there is only one way to perceive the cumulative effect of a single life: “His final statement, the end of the story,/ is a dispatch without meaning/ for anyone but himself/ to a distracted and oblivious world/ that needs nothing from its elders.” (On the Ledge) This is a powerful collection of insightful poems, meant to be read multiple times to explore the wide range of interpretations and, yes, to just enjoy the poet’s subtle nuances on life.

Lesley Jones

Inspired by the thoughts circling his mind, A Necessary Explosion by Dan Burns uncovers the innermost thoughts and feelings that most people will be touched by at some point in their lives. In society, we can all become the victim of negative thought processes brought about by listening to our ego. These emotions can result in fearing change, being afraid to step out of our normal existence and experience new situations, and holding onto toxic people or relationships. Throughout this collection, we uncover the very best in humanity, the joy of love, humor, compassion, and kindness that we all have the ability to express. The poetry will also uncover the negative side of man’s personality such as feelings of hopelessness, regret, grief, heartbreak, and guilt. Hopefully, the collection will also shine a light on the most important questions such as what is my life purpose and why am I here? The collection reminds us we all have the right to be heard and seen and will hopefully motivate us to let go of fear, embrace the world and all it has to offer, and become our own leader.

This is one of the most thought-provoking collections of poetry I have ever read. The themes throughout will really make you aware of your inner thoughts and beliefs that you may have tried to mask. I loved the poem around creativity, and I feel any artist will resonate with the feelings that were expressed so eloquently. The poems will make you laugh out loud, cry, and gasp with a deep sense of personal realization. There are many excerpts of the poems that you could use as daily mantras to inspire achievement such as "The One" which says, "You are the only person you need to know, a pupil dilated to enlightenment, the prime reason for living, and inspiration for every person." "No Turning Back" was one of my favorite poems from the collection. The message was so powerful and encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and follow your dreams: "Your path, your journey, and your adventure are yours to make and take. Go ahead and jump from the highest peak."

Dan Burns has the incredible ability to pierce your heart with his use of the English language. He exposes the weaknesses and strengths of society and the footprints left on our hearts by the cruel words of others. A perfect example of this was in "A Necessary Explosion": "Each day concludes with impressions left by the world — love, hate, commendation, criticism, humility, ego, and opinions of people who have imprinted themselves upon us — and we’re left to decide if the words and their meanings come from friend or foe, are meant for support or destruction." Finally, the poem "Liar, Liar" poignantly exposes the high level of complacency and the lack of humility in society: "I can live my life as though it weren’t mine, forget about passion and leave conviction behind." A highly recommended collection even if you have never desired to read poetry before.