Book review – Gatekeeper (Spoiler Free)

“People act as if they no longer know me / I feel as if I’m speaking from inside an error”

  • Title: Gatekeepeer
  • Author: Patrick Johnson
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Pages: 96 pages
  • Publication date: December 10, 2019
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions

At AWP this year, I stopped by the Milkweeds booth at the book fair, and Gatekeeper caught my eye. Some pages inside looked more like a website than an actual poetry book. By the time I arrived, there was only one copy left too, so it had to be popular. I was heading off to another panel, so I had to decide fast.

I ended up buying the book.

Most poetry books I read talk about love or some powerful relationship that turned sour. It’s a lot of the same soup just reheated but talked about in its own unique way. However, coming across a poetry book that rarely mentioned love at all was new and exciting. It felt like a rare find.

Gatekeeper follows a person who learns about the dark web for the first time. But his interest turns more into an obsession that takes over his life. It reads like a novel in the way that each poem builds off the last, creating characters and a story.

As I mentioned before, the book wasn’t a usual poetry book. Instead of italics, the “curser” highlighted the text like his curser was over it. Some had a multiple choice answer where the reader could see where he un-clicked and what he changed his mind too. The capital I shaped curser could be found throughout; it set the mood for this poetry story.

While I liked the web experimentation throughout, some poems didn’t connect with me. Every once in a while, a poem would pop out and be that wow while the rest were more mediocre but still good.

I also liked building with the characters, but now I have so many questions about Steve and Anon. I felt like we — as the reader — could’ve learned more about them to develop the story further. The story was through the main character’s eyes, so I couldn’t tell what the others felt or thought about it much. Some of their actions seemed off to me because of it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this interesting poetry collection. It’s something that I had never seen before. Also, it is a quick and easy read. I’d recommend it if you’re interested in experimental, dark web poetry.

Score: 8.3/10
Average rating on Goodreads: 4.88/5

3 thoughts on “Book review – Gatekeeper (Spoiler Free)

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