this inkwell contains blood

a quarter life by tyler pufpaff



when i was 23 i tried to kill myself. then again at 24 and twice when i was 26. at 27 i discovered poetry and never looked back. but for many there is no barrier between the desperation that comes with a life in need of restoration and the catharsis of writing. for some the two bleed together.


tyler pufpaffs new chapbook a quarter life does just this. its desperate, at times almost hopelessly so, but throughout comes the restorative power of words. you can feel the poet being healed as they write the words down. that catharsis is present in every poem. whenever i read confessional poetry, the pieces that shine through are the ones that make me believe the writer had to get it on the page, or else have it fester and rot like a sour cherry in the pit of their stomachs. sometimes we have to write. i understand tyler. i think a lot of us do.


so. the poetry itself. its well written, honest and emotive. pufpaff uses white space really well, especially in poems such as moribund where lines are forced to exist alone, piercing questions that would get muddied if they were surrounded by other words. by asking us to face these questions on there own, we have nowhere to hide.

poor breeds poor

my latest reality.             what will i give up next?


banal platitude is searing in its honesty. insta poetry is a short bite of relief and ode to a ceiling fan is mesmerizing, the best piece on offer here. a split poem that runs with pitch black humor, a highlight of the year for me so far.


the dark humor on offer works well in diffusing the almost unbearable tension and despair that runs through some of these works.


the book starts with a line from bukowski, a divisive figure in the poetry world. his ragged specter is brought forward in the excellent poem when you look into the dark what do you see, the squalor described by pufpaff echoing the seedy demise of bukowski as his most black.

flickering lights from movement flashing between cracks and holes


malice filled cats pacing back and forth between entryways


and here is the rub with confessional poetry. it depends, nay demands that you are emotionally invested in the character, the writer, the words. you need to have lived in the mind of these people, to have experienced the numbing grayness that a life spent struggling can bring. if you can, then this is as well written as confessional poetry gets. if you want your poems to take you places other than the dark side of the tracks, it might not be for you.


i’d recommend this to people who read poets like bukowski and plath. its a hard read but there is enough light that you can appreciate the craft.

a quarter life is by tyler pufpaff/@tylerpufpaff and can be bought here