In Spokes of an Uneven Wheel, Colin Dodds takes his reader through a journey of incoherence and monotony into a realm controlled by human desire and impulse. Dodds takes measured stabs at everything from corporate hierarchy to Abrahamic religion.

Dodds depicts scene after scene of routine monotony, illustrating that true terror can lie within the abstract systemic confines many of these poems attempt to escape. Dodds crafts narratives that breathe life into the overlooked, such as the subjects in “Hard Surfaces” or the inanimate like in “Landscape Mid-Consequence”: “An asymmetrical face/appears in the exhaust drift/between the taillight and license plate”.

At times, Dodds rises to satirical heresy when he contemplates religion with language that would not feel out of place in the lyrics to a Father John Misty song. At other points he breaks the fourth wall to try to trick his reader into some forced introspection under the influence of his own verses; most brazen is Dodds’ multi-poem study of a character he refers to as “Spill-O”. Spill-O is the martyr of the authentic conscious mind, journeying and suffering at the hands of the corruption and sickness that plagues the linguistic and sentimental plains of Spokes. An understated prophet, the message he brings to us is lost in the long series of hit-or-miss aphorisms that often lose impact and coherence after 15 poems’ worth of the character.

While the perspective that Dodds offers in Spokes of an Uneven Wheel is honest and unflinching, neither it nor the language and imagery used to iterate it feel especially unique or enthralling. As a result, Dodds often comes off as unrelatable—to his credit there is evidence scattered throughout his poetry which suggests he may be conscious of this and the efforts I perceived as underwhelming may be brief offerings of appreciation to the reader for bearing with him. Regardless, there are some undeniably engaging moments of grotesque verse and abstract psychological horror throughout the collection that could certainly justify a thorough perusal by dedicated fans of the genre.  


Review by Colin Boyd, book review intern

The Furious Gazelle received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review