Psychedelic Norway

Poems by John Colburn

“Reading John Colburn’s poems is like getting on an airplane that turns out to be a kaleidoscope, then taking off and landing everywhere at once. Of epic disproportion, obsession, and hallucinatory good humor, Psychedelic Norway doesn’t merely go the distance, it creates the distance and then makes it weirdly, wildly, and beautifully inhabitable.”—Matt Hart

October 2013
6 x 9 | 182 pages
Paperback Original

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at

ISBN: 978-1-56689-335-0.



Poems by John Colburn
Psychedelic Norway takes form as site of play and a place for the rupture of expectations. Sentence, folktale, confession, pop quiz—all allow for the chaotic impulse behind the imagination, defying the tyranny of orthodoxies with a visionary midwestern populism that argues for enchantment as the moral imperative of our time.


“John Colburn’s Psychedelic Norway shows off the style of anarchic poetry at its best. [A]n admirable collection and one that deserves a great amount of praise for its poise and creativity.”Sacramento Book Review

“[S]uch a joy to read . . Psychedelic Norway is a feast for the eyes, ears and intellect—specifically, it is an abundant feast. Galatea Resurrects

“The poems in [this] collection are surreal as the title suggests, dipping in and out of the present, reading thoughts of inanimate objects and waxing philosophical between grotesque visions. Chaotic and vibrant, it’s playful on the surface and illuminating to those who spend more time with it.” Secrets of the City

“John Colburn’s Psychedelic Norway is a little like hearing John Coltrane’s ‘sheets of sound’ for the first time. It’s all in there, the past, the present, the hoped for future and the sense of loss. . . . The experience of reading these poems is something like weightlessness . . . Worth full price of admission and then some.” —Michael Dennis

“John Colburn does here for poetry what George Saunders has done for the short story: liberate it to pursue darkly funny social commentary through wildly inventive combinations of form and tone. Part folktale; part Fluxus happening: is this book mocking us? Celebrating us? The answer is yes. The answer to nearly any question you can ask this book, in fact, is yes. Colburn writes, “Are you Dobby Gibson, so am I.” It’s unlikely you’ll see yourself in these pages in quite the same way I do, but it’s even more unlikely you’ll see yourself—or the world around you—the same way again. Our Golden Age begins.” —Dobby Gibson

“Plain, simple: open this book to page 149. When I heard John Colburn recite the poem on that page, he made me believe in poetry again, all over. It is a list, it is creation, it is the apocalypse, it has jokes, it talks about people someone loves or doesn’t love, or know. The plurality—the every all of it—forgets itself breathless for a moment—“and they built a word for us / they called us the future”—John Colburn has brought us there, and you can have it. Thank god for this book.” —Amanda Nadelberg

“Read John Colburn’s poetry and feel him lay bandages upon the earth. . . . Colburn builds a kaleidoscopic palace for the reader to navigate: fractured, crystalline, and trembling with light. . . . Psychedelic Norway holds countless questions and limitless magic.”The L Magazine


“prayer for dropouts” listed in “Moi favorite 2013 poem (to date)” by THE BLIND CHATELAINE’S KEYS


From prayer for dropouts

. . . you realize you are treading light, you,
wherever you are, alone at the booth in an
empty river town,
buying a ticket for a movie which is also your
life, a movie waiting for you
to become its field of light