ACADEMIC ANALYSES OF ALEXEJ'S WORK 

Contemporary Cultural Analysis of Alexej Savreux's Oeuvre

 

by Dr. Mark Alexander, American and European Historian, Smithsonian Enclave 

 

Although Alexej Savreux’s diverse body of work defies simple categorizations, a distinct aesthetic vividly emerges from this maelstrom of poetry, satire, and visual art. Common themes run through the different elements of his portfolio as surely as the nervous system connects the different parts of the body. In Savreux’s work, the lines distinguishing the written word from graphic art become blurred until they melt away entirely.

A satirist who wears his heart on his sleeve, Savreux employs a broad palette of influences in order to reflect the chaotic beauty of our modern, mad world. In Savreux’s work, incisive mockery is often tempered by an emotional sincerity that borders on childlike wonder. Inspired by everything from classical mythology and Zen Buddhism to modern linguistic theory and quantum physics, Savreux’s work fuses these seemingly disparate elements together to offer unvarnished glimpses into the artist’s busy mind.

While Savreux’s poetry and visual satire are complex and densely layered, they often exert an arresting influence as immediate and visceral as a punch to the stomach. Forcefully expressive, his work provokes primal, emotional responses even as it encourages thoughtful engagement. Savreux’s aesthetic often seems to be engaged in epic battles with the subtleties of societal constructs and the complex calculations of the human brain even as it playfully explores the absurdity and futility of such quixotic artistic endeavors. Savreux seems to possess an uncanny knack for tugging on these threads until they reveal how immaculate beauty still remains an intrinsic part of our overwhelming and sometimes ugly world.

Unapologetically authentic, Savreux’s work is a direct reflection of the artist and his unique perspective. At once bitterly sardonic and optimistically joyful, Savreux’s poems, plays, paintings, and graffiti defy definition and categorization. Is it art, satire, or poetry? Savreux’s work is all of these things, but it is also more. Through his writing and art, Savreux takes us with him on a cathartic journey through a fractured world. This is medicine.

Mark Alexander, Ph.D.

Washington D.C., 2020

Eat Me: What Does it Mean to Be Consumed?

 

|Lindsey Weishar, MFA, Verily Magazine (2019) 

 

Alexej Savreux’s Eat Me & Other Short Poems offers readers a glimpse into the somewhat disorienting world of the psyche, where multiple voices across various time periods crash over each other in a stunning wave of tremulous emotion, and everything from a broken relationship to the existence of God is examined. Readers are invited to enter into what Savreux calls these individual “poem portraits,” which resemble portraits in an art gallery. In some poem collections that utilize the painterly mode, each poem occupies its own distinct frame, but together the pieces help convey a larger story. In the case of Eat Me, readers encounter a fragmented multiplicity of stories. The reader’s task is to assemble the fragments, to accept both dislocation and disjunction of experience as part of the interior landscape that Savreux sets out to map.

 

The collection opens in media res with a poem entitled “Objet d’art 2.” Whatever the first objet d’art was does not matter. The object in question here is the human mind, no less. In lines reminiscent of Ginsburg in both length and expression, and abstract expressionism in its exploration of the unconscious mind, the poem opens with the rather grand: “A grotesque star has bitten the light my idle muse. Blanketed teeth nailed to the red amputation of / painted, contrasted artifacts!” The poems that follow are indeed “contrasted artifacts,” each unfolding a state of mind, and the voices of an array of speakers.

 

One voice weaving itself through many of the poems takes on the language of medieval courtly love flavored with a post-modern brand of Romanticism. In poems which utilize this voice, the speaker makes free of “thee” and “thou,” but his subject matter is also punctuated by the modern realities of city life. In “Hymning Harp,” for example, the speaker opens with an ecstatic examination of the beauty of music heard in the heart of the city: “A breathless gust, a breath from me as it beautiful, hymn sang, a hymning harp / a thing of Heaven serenading a church of thousands…” In the next stanza the speaker’s location is revealed: “I shall lay on a fire escape and listen to a melody; bright and near.” The music transfigures into human form as the speaker’s attention rests briefly on a beloved: “and this harp hymns til every melody is fixed with a rhapsodic kit / and a treat, like you, splays in a tobacco mosaic kind of flower / a shred’d heap of cigarette smoke soaked clothes, working stains.” Here, traditionally “high” and “low” language blend to reveal a world as seen through the eyes of a 21st century urban Romantic. Though the reader of today may be tempted to see the high language of courtly love as antiquated, Savreux transforms the tone by adding to it the instruments of a grittier reality, where city life embeds itself in pastoral.

 

Another voice running through this collection is that of a speaker who has been jilted in love. This speaker is cruder in his expression and troubles his poems with fantasies of violence toward women who have hurt him. In “Luxuria (Gabriella’s Body in Numbered Parts),” the speaker presents a memory of a woman who still haunts him. In breaking Gabriella into her parts, the speaker not only reveals the dangers of dehumanizing a once-beloved, but traces the way in which a person who has broken our heart can become monstrous to us: “Her flowering mascara tipped eyes / Murmur another absurd lipstick nightmare.” It may be that in the separating of Gabriella, the speaker is trying to organize his understanding of this woman after heartbreak. Though the language tends toward the reductive in this poem (Gabriella is referred to as a “bitch”), Gabriella clearly still has the upper hand with the speaker. She is still his “awakener of festivities.” She continues to haunt him.

 

In a similar vein, some of the poems in this collection reveal yet another voice: the speaker who grapples with a God or gods that seem to be both a fantasy the speaker has shed and a reality that still haunts the speaker. In “In Shadow’s Presence,” the speaker relays a story about a child who is afraid to fall asleep and the older sister who stays by him to comfort him. The speaker draws a connection between himself and “the crucified Christ way up above his bed / Longing for company besides the unruly dead” by the use of the word “linens” and the connotation of wrapping the dead: “These are the rituals of the buried, canonized blessed / The crucified Christ…” In contrast, the title poem of the collection “Eat Me” reveals an older speaker, clearly angry with the gods: “Eat me, I say to the Gods, a-hungry.” The speaker dislikes the silence of these gods, the “unanswered questions and unquestioned answers.” To them, the speaker directs a challenge: “Eat me, Bitch. And then I shall scarf on you, too.” These lines suggest a desire for mutual consumption that seems to draw on multiple connotations of what it means to eat. Is to eat to violently end another’s life or to grow closer to that life? As we eat, are we being eaten? What are we consuming and what is consuming us? 

 

Indeed, many of the poems in Eat Me enter into this duality of examining both the eater and the eaten. The speaker seems to welcome being consumed, and, at times, speaks from the midst of consumption. In “Beneath a Dripping Hourglass, Slow” the speaker seems to be falling with the grains of sand that mark the passing of minutes: “I am in the hammock of these items. About to fall into the lakes, pleasantly erratic, a cataract and I pray / on the knees. Such salivation, consumeth ye.” Instead of pressing against the passage of time, the speaker falls with it, is ensconced by this moment of falling. In “Sails,” the speaker is similarly consumed by the scent of “aphrodisiac lilacs malleable to the / rocking boats” and his own reflections, even as he takes in the beauty of the day. This desire to eat and be eaten is perhaps most disturbing in a poem like “God! She is like a milk” where a woman’s body is both rejoiced in—“O to be obscured by sky / A necklace fixed round a bosom of milk on plush cot”—and hollowed out until there’s nothing left of her but her very skin: “God! She is like a milk-white skin…” The act of eating, then, can be a violence toward or an appreciation for the eaten /eater. But the line between appreciation and violence is sometimes obscured in Savreux’s poems, and readers are left to decide for themselves just how the speaker is engaged in consuming or being consumed.    

 

Throughout these poems, one cannot help but notice what might be considered inconsistencies in grammar, spelling, and form in Savreux’s work. On further inspection, however, such seeming errors are actually an important part of the world Savreux is building within his poems. Language, like life, must be allowed to be messy, to move beyond the bounds of what might be considered “proper” or in vogue. The fact that Savreux sometimes adopts an older formal style of capitalizing every first letter in his lines signals both a nod and a thumb biting toward poetic form. Indeed, Savreux’s voice is most resonant in the mingling of forms—ode, free verse, pastoral, and prose poem all make an appearance in this collection. Nouns are transformed into adjectives (“quirked majesty”) and Savreux is not afraid to create his own words (“physicless”). The eccentricities that appear in these poems distinguish them. Though the poem portraits Savreux paints in Eat Me & Other Short Poems may at times be indistinct, there is much to be discovered upon multiple readings. These poems teach readers how to read them, to navigate their peculiar landscapes. 

Poetry Reviews 

"Asoak in the Knight's Moat" (2016) 

Red City Review Literary Journal 

"Asoak in the Knights Moat by Alexej Savreux is a book of experimental poetry and prose that will titillate the reader’s senses. A great deal of the pieces in this collection are rather short in length, most coming in at only a handful of lines, although there are longer pieces near the end of the book. The poet plays with form, capitalization, punctuation, format, and subject matter to present poems that are ever-evolving. The poems included here cover everything from identity to death to health to slicing meat in a deli. The passion that is included in each piece is apparent as the poet has clearly poured much of their energy into every word that is written on the page. While the prose included here is often raw, gritty, and realistic, there are still more somber moments hidden underneath the many overwhelming layers.

 

While this collection is certainly original and all-encompassing in its nature, there is so much going on that it makes it hard to digest. The formatting which is very dramatic due to the uncommon way poems are capitalized, organized, and spaced out leads to distraction more than anything else. The messages the poet has are profound and important, so the formatting does not really feel necessary. In a way, the poet needs to let the words speak more for themselves. It is important to switch up form and try new means of expressing oneself, which the poet has done successfully, but at the same time one must have some restraint and self-control in order to keep their message focused, no matter how many things they have to say. With a bit more editing and streamlining, Asoak in the Knights Moat can be a more accessible collection for all."

 

"Eat Me & Other Short Poems" (2015)

 

Red City Review Literary Journal  

 

 

"Eat Me and Other Short Poems is a collection of approximately one hundred poetic verses and prose. Poet Alexej Savreux introduces his second collection of poems by explaining that this book is more open to subtle suggestion, including less intense visual cues, and offering pieces that are much shorter across the board. His individual works are meant to be sort of ‘poetic portraits’ that draw upon multiple layers, painting something that is both pleasing to read and stylistically accessible while bringing about emotions within the reader that they might not necessarily feel comfortable with. These are the kind of poems that are meant to challenge the reader, not just in the terms of how they appear on the page, but by the feelings they instill within anyone whose eyes wander across the written words. Savreux has tried his best to make this collection accessible to all, and for the most part, has succeeded.

 

The poet plays with form and changes the style of his writing, even though they all tend to be just about a half page long. Some poems tell short stories, other speculate about unobtainable things, while others are ponderings about the world and religion. Various meanings and deliberations litter the pages as the collection moves forward. It’s somewhat difficult to classify the kind of poems that are featured here, since the content is rather diverse and unlike anything we’ve really read before. The best way to recommend this collection is to say that it is something that stands out for it’s uniqueness, and the only way to truly grasp its content is to dig into the poems yourself."

"Graffiti on the Window" (2014-2015) 

Red City Review Literary Journal 

"A spellbinding collection of approximately one hundred poems, Alexej Savreux’s Graffiti on the Window searches for answers through well constructed prose. Split into two parts ‘Spray Gold Upon the City aka Spraypaint’ and ‘Artistique aka Oils’ the poems included here are reminiscent of more formal ones created hundreds of years ago. Savreux has a very strong poetic voice that carries on throughout the book, as his words alternate and then sway, contemplating gods above, the chaotic world that surrounds us, and the people we find ourselves commiserating with. The poems often discuss God and the afterlife, while trying to discover the true meaning of art and the human existence. The poems vary in length, with many falling under a half page, while others are only a few single lines. Certain poems like ‘She is a 21 Year Old Mother’ tell stories, following specific characters in their stanzas, while others like ‘Sun, Only Star, Our Cave of Men’ don’t so as much tell a specific story, instead recounting a kind of atmosphere in order to elicit the reader to feel something.

 

One of the most impressive things about this collection is the way Savreux has constructed his pieces, his tone and thematic elements continuing throughout the book, his language maintaining its strong voice. There are not many people who could write in this elegant, yet haunting manner. That being said, this is certainly a very particular kind of poetry book, and it might not appeal to everyone, at least not at first. We encourage you to dive into what the poet has put together, as you move forward, piece by piece, his words will start to make more sense, as his painted multi-colored graffiti comes to you in the form of finely original poems."

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