2011 Indie Lit Awards Short-Listed Poetry Review: Sonics in Warholia by Megan Volpert

Indie Lit Awards 2011 short-listed poetry title, Sonics in Warholia by Megan Volpert is highly experimental with poetic form meshing together pop culture and prose with lines from songs and other elements many will recognize in a homage to the conundrum that was Andy Warhol (most famous for the Campbell’s Soup Can).  An interesting thing to note is the red “SIN” in the title, as well as the use of “Sonics,” which could be a reference to the garage band, The Sonics, from the 1960s.  The images of Volpert in the background remind readers of Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe paintings and the rows of knives.

The collection consists of eight long poems that play on musicality and surrealism, engaging readers in a back-and-forth, push-and-pull of ideas, much like Warhol himself, who remained cryptic about his process and his influences.  In many ways, Volpert’s work resembles that cryptic nature.

From “Portrait of a Mix Tape” (pages 7-12), “. . . Thus, Andy, please/enjoy your 58 years boiled down to fifty-seven minutes and fifty-/one seconds.//” the poem is homage to Andy through lyrics in popular music appearing from the time of his birth to beyond the time of his death to illustrate the influence he had on the narrator and the world, especially the world of pop culture.  In many of the poems, the narrator speaks directly to the ghost of Andy Warhol, but on some occasions readers will be left adrift if they are not as familiar with Warhol or the other images and pop culture events discussed.

“For the Love of Good Machines” (pages 13-19) begins with reference to Warhol’s relationship with Lou Reed as lead lyricist of The Velvet Underground, and again Volpert is combining music with her poetry as she speaks about the internal rhythms of songs vs. their external lack of speed and vice versa in the image of the stationary motorcycle, which she equates to the creativity of the mind — whether among poets, musicians, or artists.  Even though little may be produced outwardly, these creative spirits are always creating inwardly.  An ambitious collection of just eight poems oscillates between sublime and ridiculous, deftly providing a portrait of Warhol and all he gave to the world.  However, the style in which it is written could cause readers to take each poem in small chunks rather than as a whole and require some “googling.”

Sonics in Warholia by Megan Volpert has moments of sheer insanity and surrealism that many readers will either detest or love, and while the form is experimental, it does have poetic qualities of allusion, narration, and imagery that draw out themes and comparisons between all art forms and the often “hidden” quality that they all share — that which makes the affectations of that talent either succeed or fail in the eyes of the public.

Please check out other reviews from the Indie Lit Awards Panelists:

Necromancy Never Pays and her interview with Megan Volpert.

Poet Megan Volpert

About the Poet:

Megan Volpert is a poet and critic from Chicago who has settled in Atlanta with her wife, Mindy. Volpert holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University and is a high school English teacher.

Sonics in Warholia is her fourth collection of poems (Little Rock: Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011). The other three are The Desense of Nonfense and Face Blindness (Buffalo: BlazeVOX Books, 2009 & 2007), and Domestic Transmission (San Antonio: MetroMania Press, 2007). She is currently editing This assignment is so gay: LGBTIQ Poets on the Art of Teaching (Little Rock: Singling Rivalry Press, 2013).

***Today’s National Poetry Month Blog Tour stop is at The Indextrious Reader.***


This is the 7th book for my 2012 Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.




This is my 25th book for the 2012 New Authors Challenge.


  1. Great lines, especially from “Portrait of a Mix Tape.” I’ll have to check that out! I’ve written about that, too. Ah, mix tapes… such a dying art!

  2. Well you know how I felt about this book, sorry to say. I think I just didn’t “get” it but I also think I’m not really into poetic experimentation, at least not right now. I was able to appreciate her unique style, though.

  3. James Eisenstein says

    This sounds like a very interesting and unusual collection. I imagine that with all the pop culture references it would be accessible to comtemp poetry readers. Especially with the punk rock references. I’m going to guess that this was the indie lit book with 70 votes. Fascinating. Perhaps more poets should reference contemp rock in their work.

  4. My oldest son would probably appreciate this collection!

  5. Your review is fantastic, but I have a feeling I wouldn’t understand the poems.

  6. I really like the way you teased out some of the meaning and background, but as with any poem, you don’t have to get all the allusions to enjoy it.

    • It is true with some poems you don’t need to understand all of the allusions, but I think some of these references in this work make it harder for readers to follow and enjoy.

  7. Love the idea behind this, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be sophisticated enough to appreciate it.

    • I really have a love-hate relationship with the collection. I can appreciate the experimentation and the tributes to Warhol and the goal of the collection, but the poetry to me is less poetry and more prose…