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Full-length Collection: The Gardens of Our Childhoods, Autumn House Press, forthcoming 2022.

In this stunning debut, John Belk uses the spectacle of wrestling to stare deeply into American culture and masculinity, parsing the intersecting threads of patriarchy and gender, and unpacking identity formation and performance. As Belk pries into toxic masculinities, he leaves space also for tenderness, queerness, and resistance to normative structures, opening the potential for love and admiration. Populated by classic and contemporary wrestlers like André the Giant, Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ricky Steamboat, Bruno Sammartino, Marcus “Buff” Bagwell, and more, this book is ultimately about the constant deconstruction and reconstruction of our identities that smudge fiction and reality. Like wrestlers in their operatic and winding storylines, we learn how to project and inhabit identities while growing into and fighting against the scripts we write for ourselves and those that are imposed on us. In The Gardens of Our Childhoods, the distance between spectacle and reality blurs.


Chapbook: The Weathering of Igneous Rockforms in High-Altitude Riparian Environments, Cathexis Northwest, 2020.

"Igneous rock-fire and stone. The juxtaposition of movement and stasis shape this lovely collection by John Belk. The fact that we are 'hurtling through vastness in inconceivable rush' is countered by 'found' rituals that slow down an unwieldy sense of mortality. These poems ask 'How fragile are our carefully/curated selves?' This chapbook deftly creates a strata of 'selves' formed by grief, hope, death, love, and tenuous survival instincts. Individually, each poem uncovers layers such that reveal the 'memory' a rock carries of 

its origins from within the earth, the stories behind scars on a woman's arm, or a holiness in 'colonies of lichen.' As a collection, Belk's poetry offers a quiet yet stunning affirmation of how language 'made of the oldest words' will outlast our own 'weathering.'"


-Danielle Dubrasky, author of Ghost Flower (Ashland UP, 2022)


the young immortal plane & definition of the continental shelf in Jet Fuel Review.

The Dead Cat on the Side of the Road (an Ode) in The Maine Review.

Perry Saturn makes ends meet after a failed tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling & At the top of this space elevator in

The Fourth River.

Seven Types of Caring in The Madison Review.

A Wish Geometry (Reprint) in Poems2go.


bar trivia: no wrestler has ever used an Annie Lennox song as entry music in Sport Literate.

Peace in Salt Hill Journal.

Mise en place in Crab Orchard Review.


Fairlane in Cheat River Review.

Floodplain, Baptism, & Fishing in Arkansas Review.

Figgery in Wraparound South.

Selected Poems
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