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John Yohe

Slayer!: An Essay in Thirteen Parts

First Slayer Concert

Harpo's, in Detroit, one big open spaced bar at full capacity, with 3,000 young long-haired young white men in denim and leather. On each side of the stage a stack of big black PA speakers, rising to the ceiling. Huge drum kit sitting on a raised platform. Row of black double-stack amps and speakers line the back of the stage. The lights go down, and the sound of rain and thunder and distant screaming guitars starts blaring out of the PA: The intro to “Raining Blood.” The young men roar.

Dark red light on the drums. Dave Lombardo's silhouette appears. More roar. Still standing, he begins, softly at first, beating out the beginning repeated three notes on the lower toms, sounding like distant explosions and/or war drums: doom-doom-doom....doom-doom-doom....doom-doom-doom.

Three shadows walk out from the wings. Screams. Whistles. All hands raised in the devil's horn salute.

Crash of thunder. DOOM DOOM DOOM. Spotlight on Kerry King, playing the signature opening chromatic riff. DOOM DOOM DOOM. Lights. The whole band comes in, staccato sixteenth notes, fast. Lombardo going full tilt on the double bass, like a jackhammer in the chest. And the pit begins.

The Pit. The mosh pit. To mosh. To slam. To slam dance. To thrash. To thrash your body around, swinging legs and arms. Chaos theory, with enough chaotic thrashing bodies, a pattern occurs, a circle of thrashing bodies banging off and into each other. The whole main floor becomes one, except for a few of us, hanging towards the back to watch, though even we thrash our heads, bang our heads, hair whipping, to the pulse.

Part of moshing, part of the dance, is stage diving: Someone, usually male, climbs up on stage to throw himself back out into the crowd, who lift their hands to catch him, and if it's a good crowd, the guy might get passed around a bit over everyone's heads before being lowered down. But this is after the M.O.D. concert earlier that summer, when the crowd got too rowdy, guys jumping off the stage everywhere, and the owner turned off the sound and put on the house lights and the bouncers beat up M.O.D's bass player backstage. Billy Milano, the “singer” (or, growler) came back out and, strangely, the mic still on, yelled, “Trash this shithole!” And they did, throwing chairs and tables up on the stage and tearing up the rug.

So now the owner of the club has instituted a no-stage-diving rule, and to enforce it has hired two big gorilla-dudes with thick necks, maybe Wayne State linebackers, to crouch on the stage, in front of the band, to prevent anyone from climbing up, meaning that when someone jumps up, or is pushed up, the bouncer gorilla hits, pushes and smacks him down. Needless to say, this does not go over well with the fans, nor even with Slayer. Kerry King just glares at the one in front of him.

As the concert continues, the Slayer fans taunt the bouncer, flipping him off, yelling obscenities, even trying to punch him if they get close enough. He, in turn, gets more and more angry, lashing out with his fists more and more, which is eventually his undoing: Someone grabs his arms and pulls him down into the Pit where he is swallowed up, never seen again.

Which opens up that side of the stage to stage-diving for the rest of the night, though the first guy that gets up on the stage and jumps, instead of throwing his body out parallel to the floor, jumps straight out, torso upright, legs spread, causing the crowd to part under him, so he lands right on his tailbone. And another guy just will not leave the stage after climbing up, raising his arms up and giving the two-fingered Devil sign, until finally King comes up behind him and karate kicks his ass, sending him flailing out into the teeming mass, who roar approval. A third guy somehow climbs all the way up on the PA speakers, two stories, and jumps. Miraculously, he is caught.

Of course there is never any doubt about what Slayer's last encore song will be, but Tom Arraya, the singer/bassist, with the amazing ability to thrash his head in a figure-8 infinity pattern while playing, comes out and yells into the mic, “Alright, which song do you motherfuckers want to hear?”

Everyone, at the same time, yells, “ANGEL OF DEATH!”


In college, to ensure that I didn’t sleep too long during a nap, I started to listen to music, cassette tapes of Mozart or Bach, or jazz fusion like Al DiMeola or Jaco Pastorious. Then more rock, more metal, for the percussion, the drums, and the distorted guitars, more noise in general, which blocked out outside noises like neighbors or cars. I liked just listening to the bass drum. Rhythmic. Hypnotic. Focusing and relaxing. Later, in my 30s, in my little casita in Santa Fe, New Mexico, particularly noisy, shortly after my ‘re-discovery’ of Slayer, I ended up napping to them almost exclusively. I still do this, though I fear the embarrassment that will come when I'm living with a woman:

“Hey baby, let's take a nap together.”

“Sure. Hold on, let me put on Dead Skin Mask.”

“Wait. What?”


Slayer is still the most cutting edge music around: chromatic riffs like Thelonius Monk in Hell, combined with odd time signatures, and the craziest drumming ever. Songs of layered noise. Guitar solos like Milton's fallen angels waking in Hell. Songs as the soundtrack to Dante's Inferno. Contrast them to Metallica, the only other band still around from the ‘90s thrash/speed metal heyday. Metallica had just as much odd-time and chromatic riffs when they started out, and even epic long progressive songs (something Slayer never did) but they made a conscious shift towards more accessible songs, no chromatics, no odd times, no superfast thrash parts anymore, and with the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-guitar solo-chorus song format. And James Hetfield, the singer, actually sings now.

Slayer, on the other hand, made a conscious choice to get less accessible, to play more 'out' (to put it in jazz terms) and to become angrier. They’re like the Ron Paul of heavy metal: unconventional and outside the mainstream, but with a hardcore following that is more like a movement. The result? Metallica sells millions of albums...and kinda sucks now. And Slayer abides.


At Musicians Institute of Technology (the other MIT) in Hollywood, California, there were generally two kinds of students: the metalheads and the jazzheads. All the metalheads liked the jazz stuff, mostly, and could play it, whereas the jazz guys had no interest in Slayer or Metallica (and were maybe not even aware these groups even existed) and couldn't have played metal to save their lives. In general, I found the jazz guys to be snooty know-it-alls, and I enjoyed wearing my Show No Mercy T-shirt to class—black of course, with a goat-headed Devil standing next to an upside-down pentagram—and then being able to play Bach's Cello Suites better than any of them in Sight Reading class.

Rock Performance class happened every Wednesday at lunch time in the main hall, near the cafeteria, so there were always lots of people hanging out watching. My roommate Jeff and I, and some other guys, got together to play Slayer's “Postmortem” and “Raining Blood” as a general fuck you to those jazzheads. Both of Jeff and I were good students, we practiced our asses off every day, but I think both of us were sick of the smirks, of being ignored, even maybe by our instructors, who were mostly all from jazz backgrounds. Maybe too we were sick of those instructors telling us we needed to be well-rounded musicians in order to work in the music studios like them, when all we really wanted to do was rock.

The sound guys knew something heavy was coming, with all the long-haired, denim and black t-shirt-wearing dudes on stage, so they cranked up the fog machine and turned on the red stage lights. “Postmortem” and “Raining Blood” are the last two songs on the album Reign In Blood. They go together well, and even sound like one song because “Postmortem” ends with a big loud sustained low E power chord, like a thunderclap, and almost immediately the faint sound of the intro drums to “Raining Blood” can be heard in the background, getting louder, along with the anguished-sounded feedback screams from the guitars.

People were in shock about the chugging 12/8 triplet onslaught of “Postmortem,” but when our fellow metalheads heard the 'war drum' intro to “Raining Blood,” a cheer went up. In the back I could see the jazz guys staring open-mouthed. Fuck you and your suspended add 9 chords and your melodic minor solos! Here's some metal up your ass! And we ended the song by taking off our guitars, letting them fall to the floor, kicking them and letting them feedback uncontrollably, to a standing ovation.

Pizza Hut Girl

Speaking of that t-shirt, my friend Tory across the hall had finally got a car in the last quarter of the year, so that we were able to explore L.A. a little. I don't know how or why, but he, Jeff, one other guy, maybe Eric, Tory's roommate, and I ended up over in East LA and stopped at a Pizza Hut. The waitress was a hot latina babe our age, with long lovely black hair, and dressed all in black (though that was the Pizza Hut uniform). When she came up to take our drink order, she smiled at me and said, “Cool shirt.”

I was so surprised that a beautiful girl was talking to me that I had to ask her to repeat what she'd said. I could believe neither that a girl would like Slayer, nor that she would choose me, out of all the other guys, to compliment. And? All I could say was, “Thanks.” I’ve always been a ladies man that way.

After she'd taken our order and left, the other guys were all like, “Dude! She's into you! You should get her number!” And, I should have. I know. I knew. But I didn't. I didn't know how. Not at the risk of double public embarrassment, both from her, and from the guys if I sounded like an idiot, which was very possible. I did nothing. I still, twenty years later, wonder what if: What if I'd gotten her number, and we'd had an actual date, and I hadn't be shot by a Crip or Blood, and she'd actually liked me, and became my girlfriend? I would have stayed in LA instead of moving back to Michigan. What if?


In maybe the most disturbing coincidence I’ve ever heard of, on the morning September 11, 2001, Slayer released their album God Hates Us All.


Heavy metal in general, and Slayer in particular, is all about the drums. You can talk about lead guitarists or singers all you want, but no metal band ever made it big without a good drummer, and Slayer’s drummer, Dave Lombardo, is basically acknowledged by most metal fans as The. Best. Ever. And if you don’t think so, then you suck.

There are two types of drummers: loose and solid. Solid drummers play right on the beat, almost machine-like, and most rock and metal drummers are, and the music is, solid and steady. In jazz and blues, loose drummers are those who can 'swing' and play around, and usually behind, the beat, to create that triplet-y danceable groove. Look at rock musicians from the 60s and 70s, when the jazz and blues influence was the strongest, and drum machines didn't exist, and you'll find a lot of loose drummers. Examples of both styles: John Bonham from Led Zeppelin? Solid. Keith Moon from The Who? Loose (Interestingly, Moon's replacement, Kenney Jones? Solid). Ringo Starr from the Beatles, solid. Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, loose.

The loose, jazzy kind of drumming has almost been basically lost, or you won't hear it much in contemporary rock or metal, because of the coming of the drum machine, which is always, and only, solid. In fact, I think part of the appeal of thrash metal is that, at that speed, playing 'solid' on the drums is all but impossible. Listen to Lars Ulrich from Metallica, one of the best, and an amazingly solid drummer—inheritor, in my humble opinion, of John Bonham's legacy (I know people will laugh at that, but listen to the ‘pre-suck’ album Master of Puppets). In the older Metallica oeuvre, during the thrash parts of songs, Ulrich leaves off being solid and shifts into race mode with the guitars in a 'who can get to the end first' riff.

Lombardo is a now rare loose drummer, and in fact, the drummer that he reminds me of the most is Mitch Mitchell, who played for Jimi Hendrix. With Lombardo, as with Mitchell, the 'feel' or 'groove' of a Slayer song is always a wee bit out of control, like that the drums and guitars are at times not quite in sync, especially as the fast moments, which adds a tension to the songs, in the same way a guitarist (or any musician really) can play notes outside of the key of the song to add tension. After an out of control fast section, when the song shifts back down to half-time, there's a feeling a resolution, of everything coming back together. In most speed metal, thrash metal, and hardcore, the songs are a constant back and forth between near chaos speed and solid pounding. Lombardo is the one who takes his drumming the farthest out into near chaos. His most famous drum 'part,' or fill, is from “Angel of Death,” in which, towards the end of the song, there's a break, the rest of the band stops, leaving only Lombardo's double bass drums tearing away in super fast 16th notes for one measure. The bass drums continue in the second measure (keep in mind this is with both legs) but he plays quarter-note triplets down the toms, meaning what he's playing on the toms is slower and at a different tempo than what he's playing on the bass drums. Meaning he's using all four limbs at once, out of sync from each other!

In fact, when Lombardo quit Slayer, supposedly for good, the apocryphal rumors (and there are many of them about Slayer) said that “Angel of Death” was the song potential replacements had to play at the try-outs. I remember thinking at the time that Slayer was finished, no one else could do that, no one could replace Dave Lombardo. He was that good. I was wrong, of course. Paul Bostaph ended up being another phenomenal drummer. Super solid. Super fast. Super all over the place. If Slayer lost the out-of-control feel, a little, they gained a solid tightness, a controlled focused anger that they hadn't had before.

My break

But, my break with Slayer, and my break with metal, and with playing music in general, happened right around this time. I was halfway through college, and though the band I was in, and basically managing, was doing well, playing in clubs all over lower Michigan, from Kalamazoo to Detroit (including Harpo's!), and putting out two tapes on our own, I realized that the other two guys were people I did not want to spend any more time with. At least one was racist (he liked to tell nigger jokes) and the other homophobic (he bragged about chasing two guys holding hands in his Bronco). And, looking around at the older musicians I knew, who were poor and not happy, but didn't know how to do anything else, I decided, enough, it's not worth it, and quit cold turkey.

Once I stopped playing metal, I was less inclined to listen to it, I think because I didn’t want to be reminded of what I’d left behind, because I secretly was kind of sad to leave. I did pick up playing acoustic guitar soon after, and began to learn how to sing, as something I could do on my own, without a band, and so therefore started to explore singer-songerwriters, like Gillian Welch, who still had the dark edge, even with just her and her boyfriend and a couple guitars.

Until seven/eight years later when I ended up talking to a drummer in a bookstore I was working at, and he mentioned Paul Bostaph, Dave Lombardo’s replacement in Slayer, and when I expressed doubt, said, “No dude. You gotta hear this guy.” He was right. And then, in my 30s, I started to listen to Slayer again. And it was good.


Another of the bigger apocryphal rumors about Slayer passed on from metalhead to metalhead was that Kerry King played an “anti-scale” for all his solos: With Slayer, determining a 'key' is at times difficult, since their (power) chord progressions tend to not follow any (western) music theory, and can be quite chromatic, meaning similar more to perhaps Schöenberg more than anybody. Or Bartok. Or, as mentioned before, Thelonius Monk in a weird way. Building yet more tension.

Anyways, the rumor went that for whatever the key, or root note, of the solo section of a song, King played whatever notes were not in that key. And, though that sounds problematic (which scale? Minor? Major?) when you listen to King's solos, it sounds true: They sound very much what jazz musicians call “out”—in any music, playing notes outside of the key of the song creates a certain tension. For example in Bach there's usually a part towards they end of every song where the music starts to sound strained, and therefore more urgent—that's him adding in notes from outside the key, which makes the resolution at the end, the movement back to the main notes of the key, feel powerful. Jazz musicians experimented with this in the 50s, if not sooner, about when jazz became well known and a wild crazy type of music. Jimi Hendrix played 'out' a lot too.

Of the two guitarists, King has always been the most 'out,' though to say Jeff Hanneman plays 'in' is laughable. But it's notable that you can recognize both players' styles, especially in Slayer's more recent work. I would even argue that the difference between Hanneman's and King's styles creates another type of tension. On the last couple albums, King hardly seems to want to play any type of melody at all in his solos, choosing instead to experiment with making his guitar sound like animals, or demons, with lots of moaning and howling. And if you think that sounds weird, Adrian Belew was doing it with King Crimson at least a decade before. Btw, King Crimson is not a metal band, but Slayer shares similarities with them in that both use odd time signatures, both have two guitar players with distinctive styles, and both have amazing drummers. Both also have loyal cult followings, and both are also thought of as over-rated and over-the-top by mainstream critics.


Talking about thrash metal lyrics seems almost besides the point, since we mostly can't understand them, with what is affectionately called the 'cookie monster' singing style, though Tom Arraya was never a growler, though in the early days he was known for his banshee scream. Arraya just has a really powerful set of lungs, making his 'singing' just another layer of percussion. The problem is songs like, for example, “Angel of Death,” which describes the gruesome “medical” experiments on Jews during World War II by Joseph Mengele, the German “doctor.” Here's the happy happy joy joy lyrics (by Hanneman):

Auschwitz, the meaning of pain
The way that I want you to die
Slow death, immense decay
Showers that cleanse you of your life
Forced in, like cattle you run
Stripped of your life's worth
Human mice, for the Angel of Death
Four hundred thousand more to die
Angel of Death
Monarch to the kingdom of the dead
Sadistic, surgeon of demise
Sadist of the noblest blood
Destroying, without mercy
To benefit the Aryan race

Surgery, with no anesthesia
Feel the knife pierce you intensely
Inferior, no use to mankind
Strapped down screaming out to die
Angel of Death
Monarch to the kingdom of the dead
Infamous butcher,
Angel of Death

Pumped with fluid, inside your brain
Pressure in your skull begins pushing through your eyes
Burning flesh, drips away
Test of heat burns your skin, your mind starts to boil
Frigid cold, cracks your limbs
How long can you last in this frozen water burial?
Sewn together, joining heads
Just a matter of time 'til you rip yourselves apart
Millions laid out in their crowded tombs
Sickening ways to achieve The Holocaust
Seas of blood, bury life
Smell your death as it burns deep inside of you
Abacinate, eyes that bleed
Praying for the end of your wide awake nightmare
Wings of pain, reach out for you
His face of death staring down, your blood running cold
Injecting cells, dying eyes
Feeding on the screams of the mutants he's creating
Pathetic harmless victims
Left to die
Rancid Angel of Death
Flying free

For the record, I never knew the entire lyrics until I looked them up for this project, and I remember mis-remembering some of it, and being corrected by my roommate Jeff that “'Martyr' to the Kingdom of the Dead” was actually “Monarch.” Actually I'm not even sure “monarch” is right, since I just pulled the lyrics off an online lyrics site. 'Martyr' sure sounds cooler. For a funnier example of potential misinterpretations, check out the "Hey Johnny Depp" YouTube video.

Still, is “Angel of Death” glorifying Mengele's 'experiments' on Jews? When Rain In Blood came out, more than one metalhead said, “That song is fucking cool!” Hell, I thought it was cool too, though for me it was more about the music, the aforementioned drum part, and just the balls-out superfast pace. Tom Arraya's scream. The fact that I’d never heard anything like it before, and that surely all of our parents would be horrified by it. But it's the description of violence, too somehow, which seems to be implying that describing violence against people, and Jews in particular, is cool. I think/fear that that may be why some guys like it. And yet, nowhere do the lyrics say 'experimenting on and killing people, especially Jews, is cool!' The lyrics are doing something writers have been doing for a long time, since The Iliad and The Mahabarata: telling a story from the viewpoint of evil.

That said, any depiction of something gruesome runs the risk of glorifying what it depicts. I'm thinking specifically of movies, where the big glowing screen makes anything on it bigger, and more interesting, than life, including movies about Nazis and concentration camps. But maybe a better example to compare to “Angel Of Death” might be a novel like American Psycho, which describes many acts of violence, against women and people in general, in great detail, from the point of view of the delusional main character. Brent Easton Ellis takes us into our dark sides. That's disturbing. That's not safe. That's a good thing. I'm not sure I would ever want to hang out with Ellis (though who knows? Do I really know what he's like just from what I've read?) but I like his work because it pushes me outside my safe zone. I feel the same about Slayer.

Lyrics, part II

On the other hand (and I know I'm not going to make any converts at this point) I have always related to Slayer's anti-Christian lyrics, and I can think of no better music, meaning angry, to talk about hypocrisy and lies. This is not new, or unique to Slayer: The Satanic imagery used in a lot of speed metal (and with the one's who started it all, Black Sabbath, whose throne Slayer has inherited) was just a way to reject 'good' Christian life. That is, if our parents, church leaders, and politicians were all 'good' Christians, then fuck them, we wanted to be the opposite, and we would show our disgust, our anger, by wearing the symbols of what they considered evil, and we would listen to the music that would most offend them. Here's “Cult” from Christ Illusion, one of Slayer’s best, and featuring the return of Lombardo on drums. Everyone sing along. Follow the bouncing ball:

Oppression is the holy law
In God I distrust
In time His monuments will fall
Like ashes to dust
Is war and greed the masters plan?
The Bible's where it all began
Its propaganda sells despair
And spreads the virus everywhere
Religion is hate
Religion is fear
Religion is war
Religion is rape
Religion's obscure
Religion's a whore
The pestilence is Jesus Christ
There never was a sacrifice
No man upon the crucifix
Beware the cult of purity
Infectious imbecility
I've made my choice. Six six six
Corruption breeds the pedophile
Don't pray for the priest
Confession finds the lonely child
God preys on the weak
You think your soul can still be saved
I think you're fucking miles away
Scream out loud here's where you begin
Forgive me father for I have sinned
Religion is hate
Religion is fear
Religion is war
Religion is rape
Religion's obscure
Religion's a whore
The target's Fucking Jesus Christ
I would've lead the sacrifice
And nailed him to the crucifix
Beware the cult of purity
Infectious imbecility
I've made my choice. Six six six
Jesus is pain
Jesus is gore
Jesus is the blood
That's spilled in war
He's everything
He's all things dead
He's pulling on the trigger
Pointed at your head
Through fear you're sold into the fraud
Revelation revolution
I see through your Christ Illusion
The war on terror just drags along
My war with God is growing strong
His propaganda sells despair
And spreads the violence everywhere
Religion is hate
Religion is fear
Religion is war
Religion is rape
Religion's obscure
Religion's a whore
There is no fuckin' Jesus Christ
There never was a sacrifice
No man upon the crucifix
Beware the cult of purity
Infectious imbecility
I've made my choice. Six six six! (King)

Ok, Dylan? Lennon? No. But a hell of a lot more politically engaged than Lady Gaga. Because, surprisingly to some (maybe, but not to me)(and I don’t get a sense of a ‘persona’ speaker here), “Cult” is anti-war: a critique of the our government’s “war on terror” disguising both a religious agenda (that is, the US invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan being unofficial Christian holy wars) and war for oil. Yes, the band that started out singing about WWII Nazi atrocities now has songs criticizing US ones. I see this as just a continuation of what Slayer has always been about: anger. Anger at authority. Anger at Christians. Anger at politicians. Anger at power, or the abuse of it. Anger at the people in power sending poor people off to fight a war for oil and Christian ideology. The anger of the powerless.


I was a lonely kid, and angry. My parents divorced with I was eleven, though they had both already 'checked out' in their own ways before then, my father by just watching tv when he was home, and my mom more literally by leaving for whole summers, and one whole year in my teens. She was going to grad school while we were living below the poverty level. My band's first tape, which we put out ourselves, was titled Abandoned, and featured a picture of me standing on some ruins looking away out to the horizon.

Also angry at my grandparents, both sets, who claimed to be good christians but who were just mean-spirited. And, angry at my peers, a cruel bunch, with plenty of verbal abuse and humiliation for nerds like me, and angry at my teachers for letting it happen, and sometimes joining in. It's a wonder I didn't drink and do drugs like most metalheads, as a cry for help or a big middle finger to everyone I was angry at, but somehow I still wanted to be a good boy and please the authorities. If I was good, maybe they would like me. I kept thinking that for decades.

Listening to rock, to metal, to Slayer (a combination of the angriest and most talented musicians) was my outlet, my therapy, my time to allow myself to feel angry. And my way of finding others like me. To wear a Slayer t-shirt (or any of those black metal band t-shirts from that time—recall Johnny Cash, the Man In Black) was to self-identify with other angry children of dysfunctional white America.

Second Slayer Concert

The Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. The closest I have ever come to seeing Dante's Inferno in real life: The main floor and two balconies create three different levels, filled with thrashing bodies. I’m in one of the last rows. The swirl of bodies below. Anthrax is supposed to be in the audience. Smoke and darkness. The red and orange stage lights. The girl next to me. How strange. Her long black hair and tight jeans and a black t-shirt. Like the Pizza Hut girl in LA. She’s with a guy, but their body language says they aren’t a couple and she hardly speaks to him. Banging her head right along with all the guys around her. Again, how strange that a girl would like Slayer. How strange that a girl might be just as angry as metalhead boys. Wanting to talk to her but not knowing what to say. She seems even to be aware of me, maybe even wanting me to talk to her. But what would I say? I don’t even live in Detroit. After the concert, walking behind her. Losing her in the crowd.


I'm forty-two, driving home in my truck, after a day of teaching, and because I’m now middle-aged, I’m listening to NPR, and news about my government almost shutting down because it doesn't have any money, bankrupt with two wars. Talk of gutting Social Security to help pay for this. The economy bad, in part because the government deregulated stock market trading, and lots of people, including some of my students, have lost their homes through predatory housing loan practices. Wall Street gets bailed out, but not regular people. The Catholic church continues to cover up the fact that priests molested young people. Some Protestant churches are telling their followers that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. The unemployment rate is supposedly ten percent, but that’s not including people who have given up looking for work. And while I'm listening to all this I see a long-haired boy, has to be in high school, walking downtown, wearing a Slayer t-shirt.

Hell Awaits.

©2013 by John Yohe

Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, runner/busboy, bike messenger, wilderness ranger, as well as a teacher of writing. He has lived in Mexico, Spain, France, and traveled to six continents. His first full-length collection of poetry, What Nothing Reveals, is out now. A complete list of his publications, and poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing samples, can be found at his website.

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